Monni Fraemohs drew on both his Danish heritage and his engineering background to develop a business designing and building kitset homes out of solid timber. Monni was perplexed by the practice of New Zealand-grown timber being sold overseas as mere pulp, and was ahead of his time in understanding the importance to New Zealand’s economy of value-added products in that respect. He was also an ’employer of choice’, treating his staff as dignified individuals and offering them generous benefits.
For Monni, Fraemohs Homes was a passion project. Being a successful engineer with a deep interest in the natural environment, he was incessantly bothered by the shipping offshore of New Zealand’s raw timber where more value was added, which he viewed as both as lazy and wasteful.
Known for his abundant energy, Monni was actually nearing his retirement when he created what would become Fraemohs Homes. A project which kept him busy for decades to come. But as an aging man, you might imagine how the role meant more to him than just designing and manufacturing kitset homes. It was his way of imbibing on New Zealand some of the values he held most dear, foremost among which are what we now refer to as sustainability, and innovation. Unfortunately Monni is no longer around to share with us in his own words his thoughts on the state of the environment; we expect he would be deeply upset to see how serious the situation has become. And disappointed to observe the flourishing trade in ‘greenwashing’ products and services. When everything is labelled as ‘eco’ or ‘green’, the words lose their meaning. But his own philosophy of human’s interconnectedness with nature have very much been borne out, and his contribution to the culture of working with nature should not be underestimated in the context of New Zealand’s building industry.
With his engineering background, Monni applied his knowledge of Scandinavian and European log home kitset systems, to suit New Zealand’s timber supply and conditions.
The first homes he made were simple by today’s standards; cabins really. But over time the designs got more sophisticated and more New Zealanders caught on to the idea of building their own home. Early accounts from his customers convey the sense of adventure in building their own home, the unity and camaraderie it spurred among family units and friends who completed projects together.