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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

How do Concrete Homes perform in an earthquake?

Has the Building Code changed because of earthquakes or weathertightness?

What are these Technical Categories of land? (ie TC1, TC2 etc) referred to in ChCh?

What does Homestead do when building a new home to comply with the rules?

Does Homestead offer a Guarantee?

What is the timeline for building?

If I have my own plans can I still build in Concrete?

What is the next step once I am happy with the plan?

Do I have to deal with Council?

How does Concrete compare cost-wise with conventional methods?

What are the acoustic or energy advantages?

Are there maintenance benefits


 

How do Concrete Homes perform in an earthquake?

Good question, we only have to look at Canterbury and see the impact on homes where concrete was used.
There was damage to some residential concrete slabs, but these were mainly unreinforced. These damaged concrete slabs were in locations previously identified at risk from liquefaction.

A case study of a Cashmere property which was unscathed from the earthquakes can be viewed here.
This demonstrates that properly reinforced and constructed concrete slab-on-ground systems do perform well and meet all seismicity requirements of the Building Code.

A quote from the Tonkin & Taylor Geological Interpretative Report for ChCh City Council in Dec 2011 is also relevant: “Christchurch is not unique in being located on soils susceptible to liquefaction within a seismically active region. There are a number of cities and large urban centres around the world (including Wellington on the North Island), where the level of seismic hazard is similar to or greater than that at Christchurch.” Homestead Concrete Homes have designed and built in residential and commercial areas within the Wellington region for three decades. You can have complete confidence that our engineering and design specifications are already in place to cope with potential seismic issues.
 

Has the Building Code changed because of earthquakes or weathertightness?

The Department of Building & Housing (DBH) has made changes to the Building Code to address the risk of earthquake. It mainly affects timber/masonry homes and the method of construction and reinforcing for concrete floor slabs. Please view Christchurch Concrete and the DBH information sheet.
Also, from August 2011 Clause E2 (External Moisture) of the NZ Building Code has an Acceptable Solution (E2/AS3) that references CCANZ’s Code of Practice for Weathertight Concrete and Concrete Masonry Construction.
 

What are these Technical Categories of land? (ie TC1, TC2 etc) referred to in ChCh?

The classifications are made by the Department of Building & Housing (DBH) for the Christchurch Region and are based on studies made since the earthquakes.

TC1 means: future land damage from liquefaction is unlikely, and ground settlements are expected to be within normally accepted tolerances.

TC2 means: minor to moderate land damage from liquefaction is possible in future large earthquakes.

TC3 means: moderate to significant land damage from liquefaction is possible in future large earthquakes.
 
All new subdivision developments are assessed by independent geotechnical experts such as Tonkin & Taylor and Aurecon NZ Ltd. They classify areas within these subdivisions into TC1 or TC2 etc. This gives guidance as to foundation type and groundwork preparation.
 

What does Homestead do when building a new home to comply with the rules?

When building with Homestead you can have total peace of mind that your home has been specifically designed for that site by a registered professional Engineer. If your project is in Canterbury region, very specific rules apply for the TC1, TC2 and TC3 land types which the Engineer takes into full consideration. Homestead can include the ‘Ribraft’ ™ system or equivalent to suit that site.  In the event of the ground shaking, this gravel ‘raft’ system essentially ‘floats’ on top of the ground and can largely mitigate the effects of what is called lateral strain across the house footprint.
(Refer to Tonkin & Taylor Geotech Report for Wigram Skies page 4, para 5.)
(Refer to DBH Technical Guidance   version 3 December 2012 – New Foundations)
 

Does Homestead offer a Guarantee?

Absolutely. We have complete confidence in our product and a comprehensive  15 Year Guarantee is applicable to every Homestead Concrete Home. This  exceeds  industry standards. There are no fees or premiums and you can be reassured you are dealing with a family-owned business – not a franchisee or middle-man. Please be free to ask for a copy of this Guarantee.
 

What is the timeline for building?

Generally we can start within two weeks of building consent being granted. Homestead will offer  a guaranteed build time for your project which could be as quick as 14 weeks from arrival on-site to completion.
 

If I have my own plans can I still build in Concrete?

Yes, we can readily adapt any architectural Plans and submit them to our in-house design and drawing team. They will provide concept, engineering and precast Concrete panel drawings to suit your desired layout and style. There may well be improvements or cost savings that become apparent at this stage which we can discuss with you. Our drawing fees are minimal and in some cases are waived entirely.
 

What is the next step once I am happy with the plan?

We then provide a Price Brief which lists our standard specified fitout details covering Roof type, bathroomware etc with options for you to amend to meet your personal preferences. This enables us to accurately price your new home and ensure nothing is overlooked.
 

Do I have to deal with Council?

No, leave this to us! We submit complete working drawings to Council as part of our overall design and build package. Any engineering or design questions can be handled by our team.
 

How does Concrete compare cost-wise with conventional methods?

For a dwelling of around 200m2 it is cost-comparitive. After 250m2 it will actually become more cost effective, plus attracting the numerous benefits which are inherent in Concrete construction.
 
Overall, are there actual safety and protective benefits with the Homestead precast Concrete Walls?
A big YES! Precast concrete technology protects against fire, mould, weather and seismic forces.
 Homestead wall panels extend down below floor level which helps protect the structure from accidental impact, interior fire and water damage.
Fire typically destroys a building’s roof which, when collapsing often pulls the walls down into the building. Homestead concrete panels – unlike masonry or concrete blocks – are firmly anchored into the ground. They won’t break apart. Nor can they ignite.

Our Concrete panel designs allow movement in wall systems during seismic activity. The panels are tied with reinforced steel rods to the concrete slab and extend further down onto the thick perimeter concrete foundation.

Compare this with steel-based walls which are not as strong as concrete because each screw used in the extensive studwork is potentially a miniature point of failure.

The precast Homestead concrete panel system treats joints not as weaknesses that must be covered up, but as advantages that isolate stress and counter it.
 
Concrete has exceptional resistance to mould. This brings huge benefits to occupants of a building who will experience less health issues such as asthma, allergy reactions, headaches or skin irritation which can be aggravated by dampness and mould formation.
 
Exterior walls must be absolutely airtight to retard moisture, as vapour will move through even the smallest opening in a panel. Due to its low permeability, concrete resists vapour and moisture transmission which in turn maintains strict humidity control.

Flexing and bowing of timber walls always causes higher air infiltration rates leading to ingress of moisture and possible mould growth. This simply does not happen with Homestead’s concrete panels which present a vertical unbroken barrier from beneath ground level upwards.
 
NEW Another fact to consider…. There is exceptional strength in concrete construction. It gains most of its strength in the first 28 days, and continues to ‘cure’ over a four year period. This is in contrast to other building materials. Chemically, the process of ‘hydration’ causes the compounds in cement to elongate. As the compounds lengthen, they intertwine and create an impermeable surface.
 

What are the acoustic or energy advantages?

We have many satisfied home-owners who are convinced that any future dwelling they will live in must be Concrete material.  Their Testimonials (samples of which appear on our website) give compelling accounts of total comfort.

FACT - The high density of concrete greatly reduces airborne noise transmission.

FACT - Concrete absorbs heat from the day and slowly releases it over several hours – the result being an energy-efficient and comfortable home.

FACT - Concrete’s insulation properties ensure warmth in winter AND a cooler home in summer.
 

 Are there maintenance benefits?

Certainly. Concrete is durable, reduces maintenance costs whilst giving hundreds of texture and finish options plus other aesthetic features. Homestead concrete walls need only minimal maintenance. An occasional high-pressure wash-down is all that is required to keep the finish looking good. This compares well to other material such as masonry /brick which is porous, requires sealing and needs re-applying of mortar over cracked or failed areas. Only one or two percent of Homestead’s precast concrete panel surface area have these joints compared with 20-30 percent of brick/masonry surface area.
 
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