Our Clay Block Home

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

This year we decided to take on the quite big task of building our very own home.

We had the amazing Chris MacPherson (also my lovely father in-law) of MacPherson Architecture design what I would call a mid-century modern design style home: balanced, contemporary and functional - we totally fell in love with it and couldn't wait to get started and plans lodged for consent!

Further still - the building material we will be using for our build is a masonry style kiln-fired clay block called Porotherm - hence 'Our Clay Block Home'. This product is imported through Stellaria NZ and used widely throughout Europe because of its insulating, fireproof and seismic properties - it will act as one of the main components to our high performing, sustainable build.

Just in case you couldn't tell from the photos, it gets pretty cold here in Taupo, New Zealand over the winter. Whilst it doesn't usually snow - the wind chill coming off the mountains can be pretty nippy; and as such we don't feel we need to go to the extreme of building to a European passive house standard. We are however, endeavoring to create a highly efficient home that will be warm, dry and cheaper to run with virtually zero maintenance and a 150-year design life on the clay block.

Call us crazy, ambitious and/or suckers for a challenge - we have opted to take on the majority share of project managing our own build, literally: from site cut to lock up, relying on my husband’s experience in his role as operations manager and my own experience working alongside clients on their new build projects. While we have undoubtedly been lucky enough to have access to all of the above, do not doubt for a second that we aren’t building to a firm budget. This is not an overly large home at 218m2, (including garage and loggia) but we want to put the best that we can afford into it and create a building that will work for us for years to come.

So this blog will be about our journey - navigating the ins and outs of our own building project. The ups, the downs and everything in between, the reality of it all and having faith that it will be worth it when we sit down with fish and 'chups', and hopefully a nice bottle of champers, (who am I kidding; it will probably have to be a cheap bottle of bubbles) when we move in on moving day.

If you are planning to build in the future, want to know more about efficient, high-performing and sustainable building materials or want to see how this all comes together with the look and feel of the interiors…then follow along with us to watch it all unfold!

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