In the Pacific Northwest, the wet climate poses a constant challenge to traditional wooden methods of construction. NZ Builders — and their sister company, Monolith Systems — offer an alternative building technology that uses insulated concrete wall panels to create passive solar homes impervious to fire, wind, floods and the never-ending damp.
The owner of this Sunshine Coast home chose NZ Builders to construct the wall and foundation system in order to achieve a low-maintenance, energy-efficient home resistant to the harsh environmental elements, but that holds architectural interest. The concrete panels, which were poured and lifted on site, consist of a thick layer of thermal barrier insulation sandwiched between a “veneer” layer, which forms the home’s exterior siding, and a structural layer of concrete and steel.
David Phillips, who handles business operations for NZ Builders, says concrete offers endless design scope when it comes to the textural and colour finishes of both the exterior and interior walls. In this house, the owner chose to leave the inside concrete walls exposed, while NZ used wood inlays to give the exterior walls a wood grain texture. Combined with yellow cedar soffits in the deep overhangs, the home’s architecture is at harmony with its natural surroundings.
In the winter, the concrete’s thermal mass absorbs and stores heat from the sun, providing a consistent and comfortable temperature indoors. In the summer, deep overhangs shade the walls from direct sunlight to keep things cool. A heat recovery ventilation system flushes the airtight home with a continuous supply of filtered fresh air.
Phillips says the insulated concrete panels eliminate the building layers that make traditionally built homes more prone to mould and decay in our West Coast climate. NZ Builders’ construction technology results in a comfortable, healthy, low- maintenance home with longevity that far outlasts wooden structures.