One of the first things we do when we meet potential clients is to help them view their rammed earth dreams and ideas for a new home in two ways. We suggest thinking about wants and needs as quite separate concepts. This thinking can guide the size of a home, how it functions and the impact it will have on the environment and overall costs.
Terra Firma is regularly commissioned to consult on the viability, design and build process of arammed earth projects around New Zealand. These projects might be libraries, business premises or individual homes, from new builds to maintenance and extensions. We can provide a succinct analysis, from single walls to whole buildings and more.
Rammed earth walls offer lasting pleasure through natural tones, textural layering and structural simplicity. Good design enhances this feature as well as making sure home owners live comfortably and well, in a home that uses passive solar and thermal mass principles to heat and cool itself. Function is just as important as form.
Managing your rammed earth project is one of Terra Firma’s key skills. We are experts at communicating and building trust with all of the trades and professions that come together on a buiding site. We pre-qualify contractors and sub-contractors and lead a collaborative onsite team, as well as assess bids, prepare contractual documents and permits.
Terra Firma is commissioned for both build-only and design & build projects. Both start with soil evaluation. Whether from your building site or a local quarry, we find the right mix of sand, silt and clay to build walls of the highest standard and keep our carbon footprint light. We test for shrinkage, water penetration, compressive strength and suitability for the construction process.
At Terra Firma we value all Design to Lockup opportunities. All our design, build and management projects support wellbeing for people and planet from the earth in the walls to the oils that seal wooden fixtures. We blend natural materials with stunning, structural simplicity that maximises the sun’s warmth for optimal comfort and energy savings.
When Paul Geraets first started out building in rammed earth in 1991, his mission statement was to provide good quality, sustainable housing at an accessible cost. This premise hasn’t changed and he’s proud to see a growing number of people investing in a home that truly supports physical, mental and financial wellbeing. A great deal of research and even the words from our client community attest to this.
Paul and the team at Terra Firma are keen to explain that too many have come to know ‘cost’ as the first cost of a home or building, when the true cost of a building is revealed over the period of your ownership and it’s lifetime. When looked at in this way, rammed earth homes dramatically outperform most conventional homes, partly because the sturdy, permeable walls require far less maintance.
In addition, the walls’ natural heating, cooling and humidity-reducing qualities also incur less energy costs all round. You can read more about this on our news page and in the upcoming book, Building the Future; From the Ground Up.
At Terra Firma, we refer to this as durability. We offer a full design & build package right through to residential and industry consulation. Our aim is to make a difference with rammed earth, no matter who is designing or building it. It’s important to point out that our involvement in build-only wall projects is dependent on the quality of planning. It is understandably important that we have some involvement at the very ciritcal stage of design and engineering.
Terra Firma enjoys long-standing and trusted relationships with a range of high quality subcontract trades, such as plumbers and electricians. Consequently, our clients get the reliable service usually associated with a large organisation, but without the associated overhead.
We’re always happy to hear from anyone with questions on rammed earth building so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us anytime. A great starting point is also our FAQ page where many of your immediate questions can be answered, including details on cost and process.