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Home > Example Homes > The Solabode Affordable Eco Home

The Solabode Affordable Eco Home

Home Details

Building area
133 m2 m2
Year built
3 bedroom(s), 2 bathroom(s)
Clients are still very happy with the performance of this home now in its third winter.

Last year I set about designing the Solabode MKII which as well as responding to lessons learnt on the MKI version, now incorporates PREFAB technology and MODULAR design in that the whole building is made from local LVL and ply panel structure and cladding/linings in floor, wall and roof panels completely finished in a factory then assembled on site. A concrete slab for thermal mass is poured or laid as precast panels over the LVL structural floor. Thus this solution can be shipped anywhere in the world and built on any site with available sunshine. Plans available to view by prospective investors in this company. Lets add value to NZ's raw materials and export our expertise to the world!

UPDATE Feb 2010: This experimental concept home was designed to stay comfortable without a heater for 3 to 4 days of cloudy weather in winter after a sunny day or two, the large areas of thermal mass balanced by large areas of north glazing certainly achieved this although at additional cost that would best be avoided. As a simple 'Direct Gain' passive design, it was understood that on sunny winter days the internal air would overheat which is why the high fanlight windows were included to provide controlled ventilation to maintain comfort. The use of the patio doors for ventilation introduces a cooling loop of air which depletes the thermal mass of too much heat rendering a potential negative effect, so careful control of the house' ventilation was essential for optimum performance. However the reality is we like our patio doors open on sunny days in winter and so a design adjustment was needed to accommodate normal human behavior and provide a 'no brainer' solution. The result was a redesign to reduce performance to just one night and cloudy day of comfort without a heater after a sunny day. This adjustment included reducing areas of Adobe to just 2 veneer feature walls in the main Living area, while maintaining exposed concrete slab floors, and reducing areas of north glazing to compensate. Both measures immediatley reduced costs. If occupants did allow too much ventilation during a sunny day then at least there would not be too much mass to top up with heat before comfort was regained. Another measure to redistribute warm air from a backup heater was to install louvres above internal doors at the higher ceiling areas. Yet another measure was a redesign of the floor plan to move some bedrooms and bathrooms to the rear of the solar heated spaces so that excess hot air could be transfered to those rooms without wasting free energy. This resulted in more conventional designed homes that also fit a wider range of section shapes.
My clients report total costs less than $200,000 provided input from owners is contributed like painting and some labouring for the builder. The revised design should reduce that cost further due to the lesser amount of thermal mass and glazing or maintain a similar cost with a full contract build.
All the following information is still relevant but the design is now more appropriate to a wider range of typical influences. Achieving comfort upon rising on a frosty morning without use of a heater is a success in my view and better than most houses in NZ, old or new!

The Solabode is a low cost family housing solution built with natural and recycled materials and heated with free energy from the sun. It provides safe and comfortable shelter while addressing current economic and environmental concerns.

View a 3 minute YouTube movie and other info at: www.solabode.co.nz

The Solabode is an affordable Eco Home designed from the ground up for modern living without compromise to comfort or the environment.
It includes solar water heating, double-glazing and super insulation levels as standard.

Solabode homes are built with Natural Douglas Fir timber and several products made from recycled raw materials, such as Wool insulation and Onduline cladding.

The solid walls inside the Solabode are built with natural sun dried adobe blocks made from local clay soils. This heavy thermal mass stores radiant heat from the sun to keep the home warm at night and on cloudy days.

The Solabode is almost totally heated by incorporating careful Passive Solar design, harnessing free energy from sun without the need of mechanical assistance.


Fully insulated 150 thick, Douglas fir timber frame to all exterior walls.
Insulation: construction R values: Roof: R 4.4 Walls: R 3.2 Floor: R 2.6
Nelson’s Latitude Woolbloc Insulation made from recycled sheeps wool.
Locally made ‘Solid Earth’ cement-free Adobe walls for very low carbon footprint, humidity regulating thermal mass. Plastered option available.
Locally grown natural Douglas Fir framing (treated with naturally occurring boron salts where required by the NZ Building Code).
Main cladding: Onduline corrugated sheet made from waterproofed recycled wood fibre. A French company with excellent environmental company policies.
Fascia and other exterior timber trim and weatherboards may use non toxic H3.1 (Boron) Pine or naturally durable Macrocarpa or Lawsons Cypress.
Exposed smooth concrete floor slab finished with natural tung oil sealer.
Optional: ‘Eco Plus’, NZ made recycled grey water system for toilet flushing.
Fully insulated concrete floor slab and perimeter foundations.
Locally made or recycled fittings and furnishings.
Local cabinetry and kitchen made from untreated low formaldehyde plywood.
NZ made solar hot water system as standard.
Optional Marley Rainwater harvesting with compact urban water tank solutions by Rain Saver Systems NZ, Nelson.
Winner ‘Special Projects’ ADNZ/Resene National Design Awards 2009.

Standard and Custom Designs available for a competitive fee.

Eco Features

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