The Relevance Of Cladding When You Build A House

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Aug 28, 2016
Best cladding to select when building a new home in NZ

In our last blog we discussed the pitfalls of using a square metre rate as the basis for making decisions when you are choosing a home builder. Another important consideration which has an impact on your building cost per square metre is your choice of exterior cladding.

Claddings are not all created equal. Brick is the cheapest option and is therefore a popular choice for those who are building on a tight budget, and for spec homes. If you were to compare the building cost per square metre for a 200m2 house clad in brick, and a 200m2 home (both measured over the floor slab) with, say a timber, plaster, or metal cladding, the brick home will be cheaper.

However, the hidden cost of brick cladding is that you end up with a house with less usable floor area. For example, a 200m2 brick veneer home could actually have 10 to 15 metres less usable floor area than a 200m2 home clad in a weatherboard like Linea, a plaster system, or a panel system like Shadowclad. This is because the brick veneer rests on the floor slab and takes up some of the space within it, whereas lightweight claddings are fixed to the framing and hang outside the foundation. In the case of a brick veneer, a 120mm or 140mm wide strip around the perimeter of the foundation will be taken up with the 70 or 90mm wide brick and a 50mm cavity. The timber framing then sits within this.

As a consequence, in the two 200m2 homes in our example, the room sizes in the brick home will be smaller than in the equivalent timber-clad home because some of the floor area is taken up by the brick and cavity.

So if you are planning to build a house and are comparing options, you need to be aware of the impact of your cladding choices on the actual usable area within the house as well as the cost of the build. You may not be comparing apples with apples and you may get less of a house than you were expecting…

If cladding selection is of interest to you, then while you’re here browse the Fraemohs range of homes. For the contemporary range of homes with any choice of BRANZ approved cladding, visit the Timbermode page. If you prefer pure timber, browse the Solid Timber range of home designs.