New prefab homes may be NZ’s largest

Big River Homes co-directors Mark van Asperen (left) and Adam Turnbull stand outside a 228sqm...
Big River Homes co-directors Mark van Asperen (left) and Adam Turnbull stand outside a 228sqm transportable home which wil soon be en-route to a farm in Momona. PHOTO: NICK BROOK
Despite the challenges of delivering a home about as long as an Airbus A320 aircraft by truck, a Balclutha-based transportable home company is not afraid to build big.

Big River Homes, established in 2000, is a housing company that specialises in producing single-shift pre-fabricated homes — homes built to completion in a factory that can then be delivered to the owners in one piece by truck.

Co-director Mark van Asperen said the typical home they constructed ranged between 130 and 160sqm, excluding a garage.

"But this one is 228 [square metres]," he said.

"It is definitely the largest we have ever built . . . I certainly believe it’s the largest in New Zealand.

"I don’t know for a fact, but I feel it’s the largest in the world."

The company planned to show off the home at an open day tomorrow, after which it would be transported to a farm near Momona, Mr van Asperen said.

Measuring 25.5m by 8.8m wide, he said the home was not far off the length of an A320 aircraft, or about a quarter of the length of a football field.

It featured four bedrooms, two bathrooms with separate lounge and laundry areas and a 3.5m-high ceiling.

The home was the largest the company had ever tested for transport, and Mr van Asperen said he had even contacted the Guinness Book of World Records about the home but was turned off by their admission fees.

When it came down to economy of scale, Mr van Asperen said houses measuring 130sqm and above were some of the best value for money.

"If you're going to build, sometimes the larger area you build the cheaper the square metre."

Pre-fabricated homes were a cheaper option for housing that more people were beginning to explore, he said.

The material they used was "exactly the same" as that used in million-dollar architectural homes.

"Prefabrication is becoming more and more popular.

"The systems we’ve got in place, it’s magnified the fact that the more we can do in the yard, the cheaper it is for the client — especially if they’re living out in satellite areas."

In order to transport it, contractors would use state-of-the-art trailers and machinery, and travelled at night to prevent traffic congestions.

Their homes usually weighed about a tonne per metre, and he estimated them at about 30 tonnes, which was "actually not that heavy".

The awkwardness of the size is what made transporting the homes difficult, he said.

"It’s really quite extraordinary to watch.

"I still get a buzz now with every house that goes out the door, just as much as I did for the first one — it’s really cool."

The home will be able to be viewed at 172 Barnego Road, Balclutha, from 10am to 4pm tomorrow.