Passion for sustainable house building pays off

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A passion for the environment and sustainable building practices were the driving forces behind Lain Hellmrich’s remote Oamaru build, which won the Sustainable Home Award at the Registered Master Builders 2016 House of the Year.

Mr Hellmrich, from High Country Carpentry, says winning the award was a great recognition of the hard work his company had invested in building sustainable homes.

“We were absolutely ecstatic. It was great to be recognised for our unconventional building practices. It was also rewarding to be able to increase people’s understanding of the log building industry and the sustainable approach it provides,” he says.

Mr Hellmrich says the fact that the house was completely off-grid and sustainably designed made the house stand out from its competitors, but also created a unique challenge for the team.

“Because of its remote location, the house is completely self-sustaining, from the power, water and heating to the energy efficiency of the log work. The design is so unique from conventional building practices,” he says.

“Builds like this require a high level of craftmanship and meticulous pre-planning because of the remote location. You need to really understand the ins and outs of the house — there is no room for error.”

Mr Hellmrich says the home owner shared his drive in creating a sustainable build.

“I am very passionate about looking after the world we live in. It was important to me that we used sustainable products throughout. The logs all came from a sustainable forest and there were no chemicals used in the construction process. It is as natural as it gets.”

Judges were impressed with the builder’s future-proofing and exacting construction throughout the build.

“With a remote location and challenging weather, self-sufficiency was a key driver of this build. Water is sourced from an irrigation system. A bank of PV cells delivers power to a storage system, which is capable of delivering power for five days without solar gain, after which back-up generators cut in,” they said.

“The Rayburn cooker with wetback heats water for underfloor heating. Upstairs, radiators and the use of stacked-log construction provided a major gain in the insulation factor, which far exceeded that of conventional construction.”

While High Country Carpentry has not entered any houses in the Registered Master Builders 2017 House of the Year awards, the company is already looking forward to a potential entry in the 2018 competition.

Mr Hellmrich praises the Registered Master Builders Association for the valuable support they offer members, the Master Build Guarantee and the ability to enter events such as the House of the Year awards.

The Awards are made possible through the support of PlaceMakers, Master Build Services, GIB, Nulook, CARTERS, Plumbing World, Resene and Bunnings Trade.