NZ Builders won an innovation award from a Colorado Tilt-Up awards presentation for their project involving the panel design that combines the Canadian and New Zealand building styles. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

Damon Gray, founder of NZ Builders, is bringing a commercial concept into the residential realm by improving the energy efficiency and finessing architectural design.

Gray started his building career constructing homes in New Zealand using the concrete tilt-up method, which involves pouring concrete panels and then lifting them into place like building blocks to create the house. After coming to North America in his early 20s and seeing how wood-frame houses were built up here, he began his innovative journey of combining the two styles to get the best possible building method.

During Gray’s years of building in North America, there were things in the residential building sector that concerned him. After many, many renovations and seeing devastating scenarios of families living in mouldy houses that were only 20 years old, he knew he wanted to create a better system.

He started NZ Builders in 2004 and was an early pioneer in BC of using Concrete Insulated Panels (CIP).

“It’s not as though it is out of the norm. It’s done in commercial building a lot,” said Gray. “We have just brought it into the residential sector and made it architecturally pleasing and energy-efficient.”

The energy-efficiency of a home is important but if it is not done properly, it can lead to an unhealthy home.

In a traditional wood frame home, there are typically 14 layers to the home construction. You need quality craftsmanship on all of those layers in order to have a healthy, long-lasting system.

With concrete the system is simplified down to three layers: concrete, insulation, and another layer of concrete. CIP eliminates a lot of problems due to its simplicity.

NZ Builders won an innovation award from a Colorado Tilt-Up awards presentation for their project involving the panel design that combines the Canadian and New Zealand building styles.

“In New Zealand, they don’t think about heating or anything. Electricity is so expensive they just don’t have heating,” said Gray. He took on the challenge of working with the tilt-up design from New Zealand and adapting the building method to one that would be effective in Canada.

Concrete becomes air tight and with the insulation layer it is highly energy-efficient.

“Most people don’t care about energy efficiency, but if you want a healthy home that’s going to last a long long time, I would suggest that’s the path you take,” said Gray.

This current project on Beach Drive started the design process in November 2016. Digging started in August and the expected completion date is in 2019.

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Florence, a common fixture on the building site is a favourite with clients and locals. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

NZ Builders won an innovation award from a Colorado Tilt-Up awards presentation for their project involving the panel design that combines the Canadian and New Zealand building styles. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

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