Sustainability, using the Cornerstone Building system and the Te WERA boiler for hot water and the minimal space heating…..our home was definitely that.
We fully intended building a straw bale home and Chris had been on the straw bale building course all ready to go, until Chris met Daniel who introduced us to the Cornerstone building system. We studied the design information, liked what we read and decided to give it a go. It was a big jump from the straw bale concept to polystyrene, but it stacked up and the facts were all there on the benefits of using polystyrene as a building material.
Cornerstone Building System is a solid polystyrene panel system incorporating a reinforced concrete post and beam frame. It offered the versatility required by today’s designs with strength unequaled by conventional framing. The design was a very standard 3 bedroom with the loft style and vaulted area over the lounge area which meant the heat freely circulated the whole house. The 76m2 footprint had minimal impact on the section.
Polystyrene and concrete are not susceptible to rot, decomposition or infestation. Any timber is used was H3 treated. That meant we have a solid dependable building that will not rot before you’ve even had your house-warming party.
Cornerstone Building System, had been tested by BRANZ (Building Research Association New Zealand), and is exceptionally well braced against earthquake, wind and fire, which made it an extremely safe structure for our family as well. The R value calculated by BRANZ is 4.3 m2 deg C/W for the 200mm thick wall then jumped up to 5.75 m2 deg C/W for the 250mm thick wall.
Construction of our home in Cornerstone was quick and simple making it a dream for our builder. A lock-up shell was completed very quickly and the solid panels provide a contained unit as soon as windows and roof are added.
Of course the big question was,” What will all these advantages cost?” It must be expensive, right? Quality always costs more, doesn’t it? Well in this case the answer is a resounding” NO”! Cornerstone Building System costs were about the same as conventional walls. All these features provided us with 2-3 times added value in insulation and bracing strength.
We added another significant feature to our home, the “Gentle Ben” water heating boiler system.
I believe this has been renamed the “Te Wera” meaning “the heat” in Maori language.
With this appliance installed the cost was much the same as installing a standard hot water cylinder and a log fire for space heating. It came with backup to electricity, which we never needed to use.
The system was amazing in that we always had plenty of hot water and with a towel rail in the bathroom, along with just one radiator this was super efficient. As a family of four, we did not spare the water we used the spa bath. The boiler was designed so that it heats the water very quickly so that it comes up to a usable heat in about 15 minutes, using a “clean” fast burning system which is only required for an average family every 2 days. It has a gauge to show what the cylinder temperature is.
Having lived in our Cornerstone home for several years, I can honestly say that the constant warmth and lower power bills are what we all need for health and happiness. With space and water heating being 65-75% of the total energy use it makes sense to address this area above all else. As far as I am concerned there is no other way to build. I mean, why would you?”
After living in our home for three years we were convinced we wanted to be part of the equation with Cornerstone making a difference to all peoples quality of life.
For this reason we have purchased a Cornerstone Licence areas and doing just that.
Editor Adrieene Farr- Cornerstone Canterbury Rural Ltd and Cornerstone homeowner