Nowadays, sustainable and regenerative buildings are two of the most predominant buzzwords in the building industry. New ways to use natural, sustainable and regenerative materials continue to be explored in order to make new buildings more eco-friendly, easier and quicker to construct and maintain.
Technologically aided advances in pre-fabrication techniques and choices of materials have changed the ways in which it’s possible to design and develop new buildings. It is almost certain that demand for such modular, pod and pre-fabricated buildings will continue to grow in the coming years.
Some well-known advantages of such types of building include: easy assembly and faster construction times, sustainable and good quality construction, cost-effective, reduced waste, streamlined organised building approach and better safety for on-site workers.
The Greene House in Traverse City, Michigan is a great example of such a building and can be used as a case study about trends and advancements in the industry.
The Greene Home
Inspired by Danish designers, the Greene House is a minimalist home built from a kit of building products and various sustainable components.
The buyer of the homes has the choice of connecting units, modules or pods, in different configurations in order to suit their requirements.
It is very much part of a new trend in home design and delivery which gives end-users both flexibility and choice in design. A major part of the construction and delivery of these types of homes is the cold-formed steel (“CFS”) building framing and roofing systems which is both strong and has longevity.
The Hygge company is one of the pioneers of kit form or modular construction and now offers home kits offer a variety of designs. Hygge in Danish means clean, warm, cosy and minimal.
Most Hygge homes are built over a slab laid on the site floor, or on grade. However, some sit on foundations of piles or piers which are ideal for wet, marshy areas.
All kit houses have structural columns and I-beams, as well as CFS framed wall, roof and flooring systems, the CFS being integrated with other building material in these designs. CFS provides both design flexibility but also stability and sustainability benefits, as it is 100% recyclable at the end of its useful life.
Hygge Supply arranges for the transfer of kits and materials to the job site, where they are erected by a contractor with commercial construction experience.
As an example, the basic pod is a 30 m2 studio—which doubles as a mechanical hub for Hygge’s pre-fabricated homes. This unit includes a high-efficiency boiler for hot water and radiant floor heating and customers can add other modules such as bedrooms, bathrooms, covered porches and enclosed glass breezeways to it.
Recent prices for Hygge home kits start at $30,300 for a cottage unit, whereas a two-bedroomed, two-bathroom houses begins at $240,000.
The Greene Home combines a modified Hygge studio (one bedroom, one bathroom) with a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit, giving a total of 130 m2 of living space.
The steel columns and beams and the CFS sheer walls first on site in October 2019 with the installer using special equipment to erect this structural framing.
All 50 CFS-framed panels and the structural steel components were clearly labelled and stacked onto a single semi-truck trailer. The shipment of panelised walls and roof panels, including a set of instructional plans, was delivered in November and erected by hand in one week. The CFA framed panels were 3.5 metres by approximately 9 metres and have polystyrene cores and powder coated finishes. The panels have the highest rated R-value rating on the market.
The installer was able to fully enclose the Greene Home in a month using exterior wall systems which included both 150 mm and 200 mm CFS track. A series of heavy gauge, 68 mmm sheer walls and structural I-beams support the roof, with the interior walls mainly being 30 mm CFS.
As it fabricated the CFS panels, Wall-panel Prefab added roughed-in electrical boxes meaning the panels were ready to connect to the electrical and plumbing, bracing and bracketing to minimise the rough in work on site. All in all it takes only 3-10 working days to produce an entire home frame.
As the galvanised CFS is pre-cut to length there is no rust, twisting or warping and, importantly, 0% waste. After a slowdown in construction over the harsh Michigan winter, the Greene Home was move-in ready in July 2020.
Overall design and key specifications brief
- 130 m2 private residence;
- slab-on-grade foundation;
- hot-rolled column and I-beam structural system;
- 68 mm load-bearing cold-formed steel framed panels;
- 30 mm non-load-bearing cold-formed steel framed interior panels with polystyrene cores and powder coated finishes;
- pod construction joined with special connectors
- load-bearing and non-load-bearing CFS framed panels shipped within 3-10 days;
- 50 CFS-framed wall panels