Our German efficiency

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A German carpenter living in Arrowtown believes New Zealand’s building industry needs a shake-up. 

Ingo True has erected a prefabricated home in Arrowtown to illustrate what he’s talking about. 

True claims the Bracken Street house, in terms of energy efficiency and thermal bridging, is far ahead of most NZ homes. 

“This would get along with the German building code which is way stricter than NZ’s. 

“Even though you have fantastic buildings in NZ, the building physics is still 20 years behind. 

“I live in a place in Arrowtown which is probably 75 years old and the structure is the same as a new-build one. 

“We do build these traditional old homes in Germany but the building technique is up-to-date, which means they’re energy-efficient. 

“I’m not a tree-hugger, but I think we can do better in terms of efficiency. 

“Not only in energy efficiency but in the way we do things time-wise.” 

True stresses he doesn’t lay blame with NZ builders or architects. 

“The problem is that the building industry is running the show and making the regulations, which is ridiculous.” 

True says the Arrowtown house he built has features like 180 millimetres of insulation, air-tightness, wind-tightness and triple-glazing. 

“We’re using an air-tight check from Germany that can balance the moisture content of the house.”
True insists the end result ensures “internal comfortability”. 

“You have warm surfaces and no draughts. 

“It makes it way more comfortable to sit near or in a corner, for example, which you would never do in a Kiwi house, because it’s draughty, or even next to a window. 

“When you close the door, you close the door.” 

True says he prefabricated the house in a workshop in Cromwell. 

“I have a basic set-up which allows me to build probably 10 to 15 houses a year.” 

After trucking over the external and internal walls, trusses and rafters, the Arrowtown house-build’s taken only about six weeks. 

Money saved in labour instead goes on better materials, True says. 

True, 42, qualified as a master carpenter in Germany and his studies included architectural and structural design.
 
Five years ago he shifted to NZ and in 2009 he set up True Carpentry Ltd.