Insulated panels ‘offer real benefits’

Insulated panels ‘offer real benefits’
Thermawise Homes uses Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s) as the building blocks for its homes.

In a transition that took two decades Grant Senior, principle of Wellington-based construction company Thermawise Homes moved from supplying insulated panels to the food processing industry to harnassing that same technology to build quality affordable homes.
Thermawise Homes uses Structural Insulated Panels (SIP’s) as the building blocks for its homes. The company has been concentrating on building for the residential market for 14 years.
For the past three or so years business has blossomed partly through word of mouth and also a growing interest in the market of building in alternative ways.
“Around the world it is becoming much more common.“These panels have been used in construction in the commercial sector for many years and they offer real benefits to the residential area as well,” says Grant.
Using the prefabricated panels brings efficiencies in terms of build time to close-in.
In the majority of cases the standard panel thickness of 100mm is used for wall construction and 150mm for the roof.
Grant has seen a real shift in focus for homeowners on to the quality of insulation as issues of sustainability/environmental impact and healthy homes has evolved within the building sector.
The innate strength of the panelling system means homes built this way carry above code seismic capabilitye Each panel consists of two sheets of .6mm Colorsteel with a bonded core of insulating foam. The most common foam used in New Zealand is expanded polystyrene.
Grant’s role in the company as Construction Manager is to oversee the design process while two teams with three builders in each team are on site building the houses.
One stand-out project at 30 Pacific View in Whitby, Porirua involved navigating a reasonably challenging site on the side of a cliff.
The home, features very high studs over two floors, with the ground floor stud set at 4 metres and the second floor at 4.5 metres.
“This house, despite the high ceilings and difficult site has a really solid feel and is very easy to heat.”
When asked what’s ahead, Grant says the company is starting to focus on the more economic to build social housing sector.
“We think there is plenty of scope for the SIP system to be a real winner in terms of delivering cost-efficient, healthy, warm homes to meet the current social housing shortage. “We’re starting to look seriously at setting up an off-shoot of the business concentrating on this sector.”
At the moment the bulk of the company’s builds are concentrated in the greater Wellington region and when Business Central spoke to Grant three homes were being built in Wellington, three in Levin with a new build about to start in Nelson.
For those interested in reading the technical specifications of the Structural Insulated Panel technology a useful brochure can be accessed from the company’s website at www.thermawise.co.nz The website also shows a time-lapse video of a house being built.
It provides the viewer with a sense of just how quickly a home, built using SIP’s can be closed in.
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