Earth Veneer

What is Earth Veneer?

Earth Veneer is a building technique. It is a hybrid of contemporary brick veneer building and mudbrick building. It utilizes conventional light timber framed construction as per AS 1684.4 and all relevant masonry details of the Building Code of Australia.


Has the technique been certified?

Preliminary wall details have been discussed and viewed by Building Surveyors, Structural Engineers and by Building Inspectors. All agree that there is no impediment to this form of building in the building approval process. They will be subject to the same inspection criteria as a conventional brick veneer home.


How do they look from the outside?

From the outside an Earth Veneer home will have a monolithic soft rendered finish. This can be set square and hard to give a straight line appearance and a heritage influence or use more traditional organic finish that mud bricks are famous for. All ecoPod earth veneer homes will be render finished. No posts will be required in the external wall fabric. An overall wall depth of over 400 will allow deep set windows that will add substance and grace to their appearance. The rendered walls are finished with the latest colour coats and finishes. These are available in a wide range of traditional hues and bush tones that compliment the Australian landscape. The bottom of the wall will sit just above ground on a fired brick or stone base. Again this can be chosen to suit the overall exterior finish as required. All dampcourse and termite barriers will be as per the BCA.


How do they look from the inside?

ecoPod Earth Veneer interiors will be very contemporary with very clean lines and the latest in luxury fittings and detail. They will look and feel the same as any conventional home. We intend to present the fit out and work inside the building just the same as any other quality home built on the market. It will be easy to adapt the internal finish to suit every taste.


How much will they cost?

These homes will be significantly cheaper that a traditional mudbrick home. We expect that these homes could be produced from about $1800 per square metre. This is about half the cost of an Architect designed mudbrick home! It would represent about a 10-15% increase to building a conventional brick veneer home.


Will they have a better fire rating than a brick veneer home?

Yes. Earth Veneer homes external walls will have at least twice the fire rating of a conventional brick veneer home.


Will they be fast to build?

With the use of prefabricated wall and truss technology these homes will be up and roof on very quickly. In the colder, wetter areas this is a great advantage. All windows and doors can be standard prefabricated items and installed very quickly. Mud bricks are large and fast to lay. The walls will need to be finished to the outside only and external profiles will not be needed to the lay the wall


Will they be eco-friendly?

ecoPod have been leaders in responsible material choice for over 20 years. Our homes have always been at the forefront of solar passive design and we are extremely committed to good sustainable building practice. All ecoPod Earth Veneer homes will have frames made entirely from locally sourced plantation pine. All structural elements will be from plantation material or manufactured softwood technology. No Old Growth forest or Tropical rainforest timber will be used in any ecoPod Earth Veneer home. Further the considerable amount of greenhouse gas emitted during the gas firing of conventional bricks will be saved each time an Earth Veneer home is built. This will be a massive saving in Co2 per household and ease the pressure on our dwindling gas reserves. An earth Veneer is the ideal low-carbon external wall fabric. Don’t forget of course that earth brick is completely non toxic, fully recyclable and a purely natural product.

Will they have a good energy rating?

All ecoPod, Earth Veneer homes will have at least a 6 star energy rating. This will be easily achieved and it will be possible on request to get 7 or 8 star buildings. Our homes will also utilise free standing and veneered mud brick walls internally that will act as thermal mass. These walls will act as a heat bank storing the energy used to heat the building during the day and releasing it at night. This acts to even out the overall temperature fluctuations experienced inside the house. The reverse applies when cooling the building down. Using the cool of the evening air the bricks can hold the temperature inside the building lower for longer during the hotter months.


Do Earth Veneer buildings require any special construction details?

Yes, but not too many. There are some areas of the building that will need to be modified to deal with this technique. ecoPod has already been through all these areas and is producing a full set of design details for your designer or builder to use. It is difficult for them to work out these details themselves so our package will be very cost effective and mean that the plans can be instantly modified. We are experts in both mudbrick and conventional construction and this gives us the edge in generating these details successfully.


Do you need specialist builders?

No. These homes will be built by standard trades and will not require specialist carpenters bricklayers, plumbers or electricians. We do not own this idea and nor do we want to. We believe the more people and practitioners that know of and use this technique the safer and better our communities will be. The design modifications can be easily incorporated into any existing brick veneer plan set and any builder who can build a brick veneer could build an earth Veneer.


Will you have details for all Bushfire attack levels (B.A.L)

Yes, we are currently working on Bal FZ and will have details all the way down the rating levels. Obviously once we work out the FZ (Flame Zone) details it will get easier and faster to produce appropriate details for the other levels.


Are there any design constraints?

No. This medium can be used in every way that a conventional veneer home can be. As with all design, good solar passive response and clever wall protection will add to the success of your building. Responding to planning overlays, and compliance codes always places some constraints but this will be the same for any building medium used.


How thick are the external walls?

Including the internal structural wall these buildings have a 405 mm wall. This will make them very stately and offer many great features, including deep set windows and doors.


Will they perform well acoustically?

Yes. One of the great attributes of earth bricks is that they are great sound absorbers. Earth Veneer walls will be fantastic where buildings have noise load ie; road noise etc and will be very peaceful to be in.


Can you design me an individual home?

Yes. Our team of design specialists can design a home for your specific requirements should this be what you desire. This like any design service is an involved one and takes a lot more time that utilizing one of our stock plan sets.


Can I buy stock plans from you?

Yes, soon! We are currently working on the first generation of Earth Veneer stock plans. These will be available soon. There will be 1, 2, 3 and 3 bedroom plus study sets available. All will be very simple and all will have an emphasis on clean fast quality product. Our aim is to produce nice affordable homes and we will not complicate them with too much complex architectural detail.


Can we modify your stock plans?

Yes. Our team of designers can make any modification you require to our standard sets of plans. Obviously this will have a time and cost impact dependent on what you chose to do.


Can you do energy ratings?

Yes. Our in house energy rater can do ratings on any of our buildings and uses the latest energy rating software available. Ratings using other energy rating systems Australia wide can also be organized.


Can ecoPod Pty Ltd build me an Earth Veneer home?

Yes. We are registered Domestic and Commercial (low rise) building practitioners.


Will there be any mud brick inside the house?

Our designs will all incorporate some internal feature walls that will act as internal thermal mass. We believe that this will add to the architectural continuity of our designs, aid in climate control, and add the natural organic element required to make these buildings stand out homes. There is nothing better than patting a full thickness mud wall and no more prefect internal medium to maintain internal temperatures. Mud brick is the perfect form of low embodied energy thermal mass.


Will they be owner builder friendly?

Yes. It will even be possible for the owner builder to lay their own mud bricks outside. We have developed an easy technique to let this happen. The beauty here is that the technique means that the roof is put up very quickly and all work can be undertaken under cover. All trades will work on a standard frame and could be organized by the owner builder as required.


Will the walls wash away?

No. This is a myth. We have been building mud brick homes for 24 years and we never have trouble with walls. A mud brick is very high in clay content. Clay is naturally water repellent and very durable when dried into block shapes for walls. All our homes are also rendered and the render where it is likely to be exposed to heavy weather can be water sealed. Most of this myth has come about because of bad design and poor wall preparation.


Do the walls need to be maintained?

Some slight shrinkage occurs in earth walls over the first few years. Once settled these small edge gaps can be sealed and they will require no further attention. External walls that are not weather affected are virtually maintenance free. Highly exposed walls are usually maintained every 5-7 years where the wall may be either re-rendered and sealed or simply sprayed with a water repellent


Can they be built on stumps?

Yes. We have details for all styles of conventional construction and can resolve any others with our engineers. The primary focus of our first range of buildings however will be to produce very simple buildings that are cost effective and suitable for building in bushfire zones. With this in mind our first range will be single storey homes on a concrete slab. We aim not to complicate their design but rather let the lovely organic nature of earth walls be the feature. Most advice on design in bushfire zones is to use simple roof lines and exteriors. This lends itself to Earth Veneer construction and will allow us to build quickly and cost effectively in these areas.


Are they suitable for use in all environments?

They can be built anywhere a standard brick veneer is currently used.