Hold the phone. We have a house. Okay, not quite a completed home but we have the finished shell of our entire bedroom pod. It has a floor, walls and ceiling. It's been an incredible week, thanks to the prefabricated building method we're using and our brilliant builders who went above and beyond to get the job done.
I have to thank my business partner and sister Libby for letting me spend so much time on site this week, plus our awesome staff who picked up the slack as I got as hands-on as I could during such an exciting phase of the build. I couldn't help myself.
The week started with the huge steel beams for our sub-floor arriving on site, one of them weighing more than 1000kg. With the pod tucked back into the bush and on the other side of the stream, it's not the most accessible building platform. It's even too tricky for a crane. So it came down to good old-fashioned manpower as we lugged hunks of metal up on to the pod and into position.
With the remaining joists attached the following day and the final pieces of strandboard laid, our sub floor was completed, meaning we were finally ready for the day Kylie and I had been looking forward to for so long: Watching our house appear in a matter of hours.
I arrived on site first thing the next morning, greeted by six giant pallet loads of Formance SIP panels lining up along the section, eagerly waiting to find their home in our home. Garrick had already been at the section for an hour in anticipation of a massive day, marking on the floor where each panel would go.
And then it began. Piece by piece the house appeared around us. Builders Garrick, Ray, Dan and apprentice Rawiri were running the show but I was keen to get my hands dirty, too, helping out as much as I could while not getting in the way. Gluing and foaming here, lifting panels into place there.
From left: Builders Ray and Garrick reviewing the plans before a massive day erecting our bedroom pod from our prefabricated Formance SIP panels. Ben moving one of the panels into place, and giving the builders a hand to put the walls together. Photo / Ben Crawford
A rhythm developed and the progress started to hum along at an impressive pace. Grab the next piece. Glue along its edges and either side of the bottom plate. Create an air seal by putting foam around the contact areas. Slide panel into place, and fix it down. By the time Kylie dropped by in her lunch hour, we had the front half of the pod built and I took great delight in being able to welcome her into our home for the first time.
Full of enthusiasm, I took the next day off as well and lent a hand to fit the giant ceiling panels. With each of them clocking in at 150kg, it proved to be an exercise of brute strength and creative thinking to lift them into place.
I loved getting a good sweat on while doing my small part to help build our future home.
By the end of the week we all but had a completed shell, including some internal walls. After dropping off some liquid refreshments for the guys on Friday afternoon and partaking in a couple myself, Kylie and I went on a grand tour of the building, marvelling at the speed, strength, accuracy and efficiency of the construction system we'd taken a punt on. A gamble that has paid off so far.
I guess in the back of our minds we've always been a little worried that the vision we've had for the house won't materialise exactly as expected, but we couldn't be happier. The SIPs are so solid we can already appreciate its thermal benefits and see the building's finished form. The pod nestles perfectly below the bush canopy and the views from each room are filled with vegetation as hoped, belying the fact you're in the middle of Auckland. We absolutely love it.
From left: Builders Dan and Garrick manoevering a ceiling panel ready to be lifted into place. Within a matter of hours our bedroom pod appeared before our eyes, nestling perfectly in place below the bush canopy. The Formance SIPs panels lined up along the section waiting to find their home in our home. Photos / Ben Crawford
Hopefully our families do, too, because we're hosting a barbecue on Boxing Day and quite possibly by then, the pod will be dressed for the occasion, clad from head-to-toe in cedar.
That wraps things up for this year. Thanks for joining us on our wee adventure so far. We hope you and your family have a safe and happy festive season. See you next year.
• 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".