The Block NZ 2012 winner Ben Crawford and his girlfriend Kylie are building their dream home. Share their proud moments and pitfalls here every week.

I promise that these weekly updates won't always begin with a blow-by-blow account of how the past seven days have treated us weather-wise. That would get pretty dreary, right? A bit like spring has been. But while we're still battling to get half of our house out of the ground, it's the major factor in determining how fast our dream home advances towards completion.

Now, shock horror, Mother Nature finally started playing the game this week as she eased off on the rain and sent glorious rays of sunshine down on to our little slice of Castor Bay paradise.

This allowed our builders to get stuck into the area under our living pod so construction can begin in earnest on that side of the house.

Early in the week I excused myself from the office and visited the section. It's the first time I've felt useless since we began building. Our builder Garrick was knee-deep in mud, shovelling the sticky goop by hand as he prepared the area for our concrete footings. On the other side of the hole, Dan, a recent addition to our building team, was similarly up to his proverbial in muck.

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I would have loved to be in there, giving the guys a hand, up to my armpits in mud, doing the hard slog and feeling suitably manly.

Instead, here I was fresh from behind my computer desk, decked out in my pointy suede boots, skinny jeans and Liberty print shirt, looking quite the fish out of water.

I quickly ran back to the car, pulled out my gumboots encrusted in mud and traded a few war stories in an attempt to gain back some man points.

Man pride aside, it was a relief to finally see progress on this side of the house. All of the foundations that will sit below the surface of our driveway and retaining walls had been cut to height, meaning our building platform no longer looked like giant chopsticks poking out of the ground.

The excess mud and goo had been removed and the area levelled out. Then, as the week continued, the boys boxed out the footings for our retaining walls, gridded the area with reinforcing steel then filled it with concrete, ready to begin laying the first blocks.


Photos / Ben Crawford

Retaining wall footings ready for concrete to be poured while builders Ray and Garrick review plans. Photo / Ben Crawford

Then Kylie and I got to see our house last weekend. In a warehouse. Yep, that's right, our house is sitting in a storage facility in East Tamaki.

For those of you new to our building adventures, let me recap. We are constructing our home with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) which, to cut a long story short, are prefabricated panels.


Ben stoked after checking out prefabricated Formance SIPs panels that will make their house. Photo / Ben Crawford

We discovered Christchurch Method Building Systems and their innovative Formance SIPs in our quest to build more efficiently and to build a more efficient home, and have been working with them to pre-make our home's skeleton.

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The panels make up the walls and ceiling of our entire house and the manufacture of them began in parallel to our building consent being processed. They have since been finished, shipped to Auckland and are now waiting to be delivered to the site.

It was both an exciting and odd sensation as we walked into the warehouse knowing we were about to view our future home. Then bang, there it was, right in front of us as we pulled aside the entry door, set among the "normal" storage and freight items.


Our prefabricated SIPs house panels. Photo / Ben Crawford

Kylie very happy to see our prefabricated SIPs panels made by Method Build. Photo / Ben Crawford

Giant panels made from strandboard and polystyrene were stacked to the rafters, each stamped with a unique code corresponding to its eventual place within our home.

As we walked around the huge pile, we began to fully comprehend just how energy efficient the house will be.

The panels were so thick, especially the ceiling ones which are 315mm and substantially thicker than traditional timber-framed solutions.

We left champing at the bit to see the panels be erected like a giant set of Lego within a day.

That will be momentous, all right, definitely worth the popping of a few corks to mark a significant milestone as our dream home becomes ever more home like.

• Find out more about Ben and Kylie's dream home at ourdreamhome.co.nz

For more information on the Kiwibank First Home Buyer's Guide visit: kiwibank.co.nz and search for "first home".