Australia gets Baufritz Homes

A friend of mine, and a great contributor to Australian public policy, Mike Waller, a man who sketched out Australian competition policy on a single page and fed it up the line as an FAS in PM&C in the late 80s (or perhaps it was 1990), has wrenched himself from the policy scene (though not entirely, as he keeps his hand in with consulting and other occasional gigs) and joined a few others in setting up a company which will initially import Baufritz homes and which will ultimately build quite a lot of them here.

Baufritz homes are about the most ecologically fine habitation one can buy. Extremely energy efficient, made without nasty emissions, emulsions and things like that, they are exceptionally comfy. They are also quite pricey, but what do you expect for comfort?

One of the things that excites Mike is the fact that Australian homes are still built according to the craft model, with people turning up on site and building the house. There’s more prefabrication in units (with the efficiency gains having been captured and then some by the unions), but in houses there should be a lot more factory pre-fabrication with the ultimate building resembling a barn raising. This can reduce cost, and improve the quality and efficiency of houses.

Houses will initially be largely imported from Germany but will be progressively displaced by Australian production as scale rises. So drop into the new site of MGW Homes and let MGW know if you’re interested in buying one.

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kymbos
kymbos
9 years ago

I don’t think your weblink to MGW Homes is working…

wilful
wilful
9 years ago

These have been featured on Grand Designs (UK) quite a few times. The factory (fully unionised I bet, Nicholas!) is quite a work of teutonic efficiency.

Mel
Mel
9 years ago

Wilful:

“These have been featured on Grand Designs (UK) quite a few times. ”

I immediately thought about Grand Designs (UK) as well. I wonder why we are still stuck in the craft system? The quality of house construction and design in this country is currently very poor, I reckon.

john
john
9 years ago

Mel
Very few houses in Australia are ‘craft’ built.
Most ‘builders’ simply assemble pre-made kits .
People with the skills needed to make bespoke things( of any kind) are very rare in modern australia.

Steve at the pub
9 years ago

I love the look of ’em….

…but all that plate glass, oh dearie me, what a nightmare for cyclone preparations!
Wonder what’s the cyclone rating on those houses? Plenty of overhanging roof there for a cyclonic wind to get under!

john
john
9 years ago

“There’s a lot of bespoke work goes on at most housing sites”

There is a new ‘development’ on the edge of our town, that has put up a few spec houses in the hope of creating some buyer interest. A crew turned up and laid out the pipes and then pored the slabs , another team then turned up a few days later and banged the prefab frames together in a few hours, and then another team turned up and put the largely pre-cut roof cladding on in a day and so on.

Cutting the odd bit of excess pvc pipe is hardly bespoke craft.

aidan
aidan
9 years ago

One of the things that excites Mike is the fact that Australian homes are still built according to the craft model, with people turning up on site and building the house. There’s more prefabrication in units (with the efficiency gains having been captured and then some by the unions), but in houses there should be a lot more factory pre-fabrication with the ultimate building resembling a barn raising. This can reduce cost, and improve the quality and efficiency of houses.

Can reduce, but doesn’t actually seem to! Those houses are breath-takingly expensive — the Huf Haus featured on Grand Designs seem very pricey for the size.

If cost is the problem you can whack up an enormous barn from a “pre-fab DESIGN” company. That seems to be where the costs are saved. Integrated supply chain?

john
john
9 years ago

I can’t log into the the site selling these posh kit homes but if the kit includes stuff like inert gas filled double glazing the it will be very exy. ( and not all that effective long term)

billie
billie
9 years ago

Consolidated Home Industries in the 1950s built houses. The external walls, floor and roof were assembled on site and the internal walls and cupboards were made in their factory.

These houses have been transported across Victoria when they became too small and too modest for the land value of their original sites. Interestingly the best designs were mercilessly ripped off in the 1970s building boom.

I grew up in one of these houses and would like to see more prefabricated and less labor intensive building practices used in domestic construction in Australia, especially at the modest/affordable end of the market

hc
hc
9 years ago

An advertipost? An additorial? An op ad?

chrisl
chrisl
9 years ago

Soooo…. How do you pre-fabricate brickwork?
(and the answer is not allowed to have the word assume in it)

chrisl
chrisl
9 years ago

Well it’s better than theoretically!

rog
rog
9 years ago

Highly efficient, great design but very expensive, a niche market. Baufritz made less than 200 homes in the EU in 2010.

john
john
9 years ago

bille

Most of the ‘mechanics institute ‘ halls that were/are common in country towns one hundred years ago were prefab structures, it was (in 1900) a well established industry.

The house in the picture has large areas of glass– to be energy efficient it would almost certainly need double glazing and it would provably use the same sort of thin/elegant double glazing that is used on things like trains … expensive.

wilful
wilful
9 years ago

john, speaking from very recent experience, with the energy rating software, not even double glazing cuts it if you want 6 stars or more. Triple glazing starts to get there, but really, less windows is the way to achieve the rating. Otherwise, computer says no. Of course, the website says these homes are triple glazed. That would be a huge part of the cost of the building right there…

of course, this means that lights get left on all day, and is counter-productive, but that’s the way it works.

Mr Waller’s site appears to have a bit of greenwashing going on. He makes a lot of claims about emissions, seems to have done life cycle evaluations, but there’s no indication as to whether they were done according to a Standard, or by an independent person. these sorts of accreditation details are needed for credibility. Otherwise, I smell a bit of bullshit.

I’m sure the Germans have all of this paperwork, and the poms have probably had it translated into English. He just needs to get it on his website if he wants to be credible.

And I’ll restate – I would bet dollars to doughnuts that these houses are built by unionised labour. Not that I have a problem with that.

Persse
Persse
9 years ago

On behalf of the termite community of Australia I would like to extend a warm welcome to Baufritz Homes and look forward to a close and enduring relationship.

Haus
Haus
9 years ago

“john, speaking from very recent experience, with the energy rating software, not even double glazing cuts it if you want 6 stars or more. Triple glazing starts to get there, but really, less windows is the way to achieve the rating. Otherwise, computer says no. Of course, the website says these homes are triple glazed. That would be a huge part of the cost of the building right there…”

The RMIT report they commissioned ran NATHERS – and even with the Baufritz house not getting full credit for some aspects (like U values in the walls) it still came in at 8 – 9 stars. And that’s with double-glazing, because if you read the fine print they don’t appear to be speccing triple glazing in Australia.

Double Glazing Manchester

These houses are amazing, a few people have started looking at them in the UK. There was a tv program about them and one featured on Grand Designs UK.

Haus
Haus
9 years ago

“Mr Waller’s site appears to have a bit of greenwashing going on. He makes a lot of claims about emissions, seems to have done life cycle evaluations, but there’s no indication as to whether they were done according to a Standard, or by an independent person. these sorts of accreditation details are needed for credibility. Otherwise, I smell a bit of bullshit.”

I’d refer you to the RMIT study on his website using NATHERS.

“of course, this means that lights get left on all day, and is counter-productive, but that’s the way it works.”

I think you’ll find that they try to minimise south-facing windows, rather than removing windows altogether. I have a solar passive house with double-glazed north-facing windows: we do not ever need to have the lights on during the day – even during the winter it’s bright enough to read, and you can easily read by moonlight too should you want to.

aidan
aidan
7 years ago

Thread revival, but they seem to have gone out of business? Their website has disappeared and no activity on their Facebook or Twitter accounts for over a year.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
7 years ago
Reply to  aidan

According to this report in the age the company was deregistered at Christmas last year .

aidan
aidan
7 years ago
Reply to  john Walker

Thanks.

Thought it worth following up. Guess they were just too pricey.