Where are you at?
We are just starting to produce the first prototype building on the ground. There are several different aspects: 1) To make it much easier for people to build their own homes. 2) To build facilities in the community whereby people can be involved in fabricating their own house. 3) Development of software which allows people to be much more involved in the design. The building system is the one furthest ahead.
Has the process been harder and more complicated than you expected?
Definitely. There’s been a lot of testing and experimentation, and we took a lot of time raising funds to do that. We are now emerging from that, and hope to have a product available in the next half year or so.
When will the WikiHouse be available in New Zealand?
We are currently in the final development phase for the WikiHouse BackYarder. This will be a fully compliant 'Starter Home' of approximately 40 square metres, and will become the demonstration model showcased on a high profile central city site in 2018.
The next phase, for 2-3 early adopters wanting to purchase one of the first habitable WikiHouses to be produced in New Zealand, is beginning now. This testing programme will be full supported by Space Craft Systems to identify and correct any teething problems.
If you have a serious interest in being considered as part of this next exciting phase, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
How much does one cost?
We will have a more accurate idea of costs once we have completed design and construction of the first WikiHouse BackYarder demonstration model . What we can say is that it will prove very affordable, relative to the present offerings in the housing marketplace, due to the quality of build, the overall running costs, and the modular construction concept.
Does it have building consent?
As we develop the WikiHouse BackYarder we will be assessing the designs against the Building Code of New Zealand. We will work with early adopters to ensure the house meets council approval processes for building consent where applicable.
Consents for any connections to the house, and siteworks, foundations, etc, will be subject to the specific site conditions the house is placed on, so will need to be sought once site and foundation decisions have been made.
We realised early on that co-ordination with local councils was going to be a critical aspect of delivering the system, and some local council consenting departments are starting to take an active interest. Our medium term aim is to act as an overseeing body that guarantees parameters within critical parts of the production system, so the basic designs can be pre-consented, with additional consenting only needed on variations.
What makes this house more affordable than others?
The WikiHouse is a modular construction concept, which means you can simply purchase as much of a house as you need to get started and then add to it as you require.
Conversely, at the other end of the scale, when you no longer need the larger house you can sell off the additions or gift them (for example) to offspring, which then makes the WikiHouse even more affordable for the next generation.
What would be an estimate to build a WikiHouses?
As there is not yet a developed product available on the market it is very difficult to give exact costs – our aim is to develop a system that is affordable for the total lifecycle cost whilst providing far superior value in terms of performance, versatility and strength. The ability to then scale production would lead to a lowering of costs, whereas conventional costs continue to increase.
Why is this house so superior to others in terms of liveability and wellbeing?
Whilst aiming for an affordable house, our design is also focused around a house that is healthy and sustainable in all respects. We have sought out products which minimise exposure to carcinogens and poisons which may be harmful to humans, and opted for eco-friendly sources at all points. The house design itself will be as close to passive house performance standard as practically possible given the affordability equation.
Where are the plans to download?
To date, we have completed a prototype 10 square metre frame. The 3d model for this is loaded at the WikiHouse Creative Commons website. You can access this basic model here. The model is in folder 0020NZ SCS_005-13-008_Makertorium. We are most happy for you to use this model and develop it under the Creative Commons licence BY-SA, but please note that given we are now developing the next iteration of house, we have little ability to give you any assistance beyond providing the model.
You may, however, find help through www.wikihouse.cc if you join the community there. Note - the global Foundation website is currently undergoing a revamp although you can access the community by joining the Slack Channel link in the lower right hand corner.
Why does the prototype design have an unusual shape? Could this method be used for a more traditional form?
The proof-of-concept design has been developed with schedule 1 of the Building Act in mind (since amended to tighten some rules), which allows single-storey buildings under 10 square metres to be constructed without requiring a building consent in limited cases. It does, however, have to comply with all the provisions of the Building Regulations and relevant codes. The angled walls maximise the internal space and the structural integrity of the portal frames while maintaining the small footprint. However the overall shape of this design is adjustable and can be set to any desired angles that meet structural requirements (including the traditional vertical).
The other reason is the shape is designed to respond to the local environmental. For this prototype we’ve adapted the shape with high north-facing windows to let in sunlight, and passive solar heating, a 45 degree front roof optimised for a PV solar array in Canterbury; a long back roof for rain-water collection; and a small south wall to minimise the impact of the cold weather on the building.
Could this method be used to build a large home with two stories?
We believe it can. We hope to take the design of the system to two and three storeys in time. This allows medium-density urban villages to be created by the communities who will live in them.
To get to this point will require a continuation of our extensive engineering and building performance testing. We are aiming to achieve this in partnership with engineering practices and research institutions, as well as local government.
What kind of cladding, inside and outside, is being proposed, that would stay simple to use and friendly to people and planet?
We have created the basis of a strong, versatile structural system that includes panel-based cladding and fitted insulation pillows. It is important that every component remains simple for anyone to assemble and maintain.
We have strict environmental and social criteria for the building materials we use. Space Craft evaluates all products we use in our WikiHouses for their effects on people and the planet. We have developed a breathable envelope using magnesium oxide board sheathing and woollen insulation, and we are exploring options for internal lining such as plywood, bamboo, or straw board. Between the magnesium oxide and the external cladding there is a ventilated cavity, and clients will be able to select an external face finish (rainscreen) of their own choice.
What kind of foundation system is being proposed? How feasible would it be to shift my house to another location?
The first principle of foundation design is to reduce the mass of your building. With a lightweight engineered timber structure, WikiHouse designs are ideally suited for concrete-free, retrievable foundation systems such as the SureFoot. We’re exploring options in micro-pile foundations . The ambitious goal is to make it as easy to move your house as your contents.
How can I help?
We’re looking for funding and supporters both, large and small, professional advice (especially legal, engineering and financial), office space, workshop access, materials, and strategic partners in relevant areas. We have set up a WikiBoost funding account for anyone who would like to support our efforts. Even a few dollars a month can help move the project forward.
We’re also looking for volunteers who want to pitch in and help move the project forward (you don’t have to be a building, architectural, design or CAD guru -- there’s something for everyone to do).
At the simplest level we’re looking for those who will endorse our initiative or connect to other individuals or agencies who may wish to support the initiative. You can also help to spread the word about what we’re doing - see http://spacecraft.co.nz and http://wikihouse.cc for more information.
Our vision for WikiHouseNZ is nationwide – to activate people, groups and communities to collaborate on a global platform that is shared freely among its contributors and that empowers people to take charge of developing their own solutions to their needs.