When someone builds a house in New Zealand, it usually starts with wooden internal framing. Once that’s up the roof and walls are added, windows and doors are put in, and the gradually everything else is added until the house is finished.
When we had our small beach house built it went a bit differently, because it used an interesting product called Metrapanel.
The concept of Metrapanel is brilliantly simple; solid walls, floors and ceiling panels pre-cut to simplify and speed up construction.
First the site was prepared and foundations went in. In our case we had to have 6–metre long piles driven in as we’re on a small sand hill.
Then the sub-floor was laid. On to the sub-floor go huge and heavy sheets of Metrapanel, in various thicknesses, depending on their use: floor, external or internal walls, ceiling.
Unfortunately I didn’t see this stage in progress. At some points holes are cut in the panels for windows and doors.
The panels are fixed in place. Outside, the roof structure is added and battens go on the walls outside to support insulation and cladding.
Rough cuts are made in internal walls for cupboards and doors. These are tidied up when that part of the build is reached.
Windows and doors have to be framed up and installed. Our mono pitch roof was done with long run ColorSteel. We take rainwater from the roof for all our household use. There’s no Town Water supply where we are. For that matter, bathroom and kitchen waste go to a septic tank, as there’s no Town wastewater either.
Insulation is added between the battens. There’s insulation under the floor and in the ceiling too.
I don’t know what happens elsewhere in the world, but in New Zealand every stage of a build must be inspected. Our house was wrapped in a white building paper made of Tyvek, I believe. The Building Inspector wasn’t happy with that. Apparently the rules had changed and the black paper shown in the photo was required. The builders simply added that building paper on top, so we have two layers of paper.
We chose a kind of plastic weatherboard cladding, and naturally that went on last. It’s called Palliside, and unfortunately comes only in a limited range of colours. I would have loved for our house to blend with the landscape with a green or brown colour. Ultimately, the colour we chose was the ‘darkest’ of the range at the time. It’s very pale.
Inside, the painters just paint straight onto the panel.
The Metrapanel material and process means several things:
- it can be very quick to build a house, because all the fiddly external and internal framing is replaced by a ready-made panel.
- the house is very solid.
- the panels offer a degree of additional insulation.
- if you want to hang up a picture you can just hammer a nail in anywhere.