House designs

Online home designs could cut costs


DOWNLOADABLE HOME: Clayton Perst, left, Danny Squires and Martin Luff present a WikiHouse model.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / Fairfax NZ

DOWNLOADABLE HOME: Clayton Perst, left, Danny Squires and Martin Luff present a WikiHouse model.

Sharing innovative home designs could cut costs and change the way homes are built.

The WikiHouse international community house building network has arrived in Christchurch and could be the solution for homeowners who need an idea or want to start their rebuilding themselves.

WikiHouse is an open source hardware project, where experts design homes, or parts of them, and share their creations online for any home builder who wants to use them.


Open Source is a weekly series featuring innovative and interesting ideas emerging in the city and region. If you would like to share an idea, email [email protected] or comment below.


Think Wikipedia, for houses. The online encyclopedia is user-driven, with readers creating content, which anyone can view for free.

At WikiHouse, designs are submitted under a Creative Commons license and anyone can share them.

The project is still in the planning stage, but home builders should eventually be able to purchase a full build service, have the designs go to their own contractor to build and assemble, or go into business. DIY.

Christchurch Architects Martin Luff and Danny Squires were researching new housing solutions after the February 2011 earthquake when they found the concept they thought was perfect for a post-earthquake building environment.

The duo are now leading the technical developments of the global project.

Luff compared it to a global new-age kitet house business.

“It goes up very easily but it’s also easy to modify,” he said.

“One of the concepts is that you only need to build what you need, when you need it. This has huge potential for lowering the cost of entering the housing market.”

Pre-designed parts mean less work on a build – a big plus when Christchurch calls for more construction workers – and homes will be “competitive” against traditional builds.

“It’s a much more efficient building [than traditional houses]”said Luff.

“[We’re coming] with a very well insulated and dry building. Strong. . . and also something that takes care of the environment.

“You can do it all yourself. Download one of the templates, organize your own materials and cut out your puzzle. “

WikiHomes was recently part of a new industrial-era exhibit at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington and was hoping to have the frame for the first house on display in Christchurch within a month.

Money, however, is the main problem.

A cash injection will fund machines for cutting design prototypes, more software licenses, and simple things like hand tools.

“We’re just looking for a moderate amount of funding … to accelerate our development and get it to market as soon as possible.”


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