Make big savings on building and energy costs while doing your bit for the environment with this remarkable building system
This large, three-storey, 105 square home was built by Trevor and Megan Ryan on Phillip Island. It features many curved walls and is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the Thermacell building system.
Commercial builders are learning what many owner-builders have known for years — that Thermacell, the fire-retardant polystyrene formwork used for casting concrete structures, is the smartest, safest, easiest and most cost-effective way to build. After completing the home on Phillip Island, Trevor says he would recommend Thermacell. “I have no hesitation in recommending Thermacell and I’ve done so to friends and other owner-builders. As owner-builders ourselves, we found Thermacell to be a fantastic building product. Its noise and insulation factors have proven to be better than expected.”
Thermacell blocks have keyways top and bottom and push together like Lego blocks. The flame-retardant and vermin-resistant blocks are hollow and filled with concrete, meaning the strength of a Thermacell building far exceeds that of any other type of building system.
Thermacell homes are virtually maintenance-free and the cost is comparable with brick veneer, but that’s where the comparison ends. Brick veneer and double brick cannot match the quality, strength, acoustics and insulation obtained by building with Thermacell. The reinforced concrete walls don’t expand or contract, meaning no expansion joints are necessary. The walls never move and no cracks ever appear in the plaster sheet on the inside of the walls.
Superior insulation and easy construction
Thermacell provides your home with sound insulation between rooms and from noisy streets, and because of the superior insulation qualities, smaller heating systems are required and air-conditioning is seldom necessary. Energy savings can be about 50 per cent using Thermacell and up to 80 per cent using double-glazed windows as well, when compared with the average uninsulated brick-veneer home.
Owner-builders with no previous building experience will find the product easy to work with and very cost-effective. “If you decide to mix and pour the concrete yourself, filling the blocks a couple of rows at a time, you won’t need to brace the walls,” says owner Geoff Bennett. “This will save you a lot of money, as hiring braces is a big additional cost. Thermacell can be pumped in one go, up to three metres in height at a time.”
Thermacell is a strong formwork made entirely from fire-retardant materials such as concrete, polystyrene and steel. Instead of a flammable timber frame, a steel-reinforced concrete core is used so that both the exterior and the interior walls are concrete-filled. Furthermore, the concrete core has no cavity, meaning there is no space for white ants to build nests or for fire to travel up to the ceiling.
To further protect the home from fire, the exterior can be rendered with acrylic cement, which has an additional one-hour fire rating.
Owner and managing director, Geoff Bennett, explains that for bushfire-prone areas, Thermacell’s walls can be “battened and covered with a fireproof board such as Promat, making it unlikely that fire would ever penetrate the walls”.
These materials and procedures used by Thermacell are especially utilised to make the home as fire-resistant as possible.
Thermacell has been in business for 24 years and boasts a faultless record. No home built out of Thermacell has ever failed. Owner and managing director Geoff Bennett likes to meet customers at his own Thermacell home in Somerville, which houses the head office and storage facility.
“We are happy to show customers our home and introduce them to all facets of our system,” he says. “We can refer them to contractors if they wish to have their buildings built for them, or we can oversee owner-builders at their sites. We also provide a lot of advice over the phone at all hours.”
Trevor Ryan experienced Thermacell’s exceptional customer service firsthand. “When we began the project, Geoff from Thermacell came down and delivered the blocks and helped us get started on using the Thermacell blocks. He also liaised with our engineer on numerous occasions,” he relates.
This level of personalised service, combined with the reduced costs, ease of construction, environmental and cost-saving factors, means you can’t go past Thermacell when building. The system is popular in Europe, where it has been used since 1932, and has many commercial applications including houses, commercial buildings, swimming pools, fences and retaining walls.
Visit the Thermacell website to learn more about the product that’s revolutionising the building industry and letting Australian owner-builders create their dream homes.
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Originally from BuildHome Victoria magazine, Volume 45