Building Consent Made Easy with Porotherm Clay Blocks

By introducing the Porotherm system to South Waikato District Council prior to applying for consent, Stellaria was able to resolve any doubts first, ensuring a smooth consent process.

Stellaria's experience with the consenting process using the new Porotherm solid clay masonry building system here in New Zealand has been a very positive one. The system in its current form has been extensively used throughout Europe for the last 45 years, so the benefits of the block in terms of seismic, thermal, acoustic and air quality have been refined over those years and are well proven.

Stellaria has lodged and had consents approved through five different councils to date with minimal effort and all consents generally issued within 20 to 25 working days.

The third building consent application for Porotherm (450m² home with attached garage) was made through the South Waikato District Council. Prior to lodgement, Stellaria's Chris MacPherson met with the building consents team leader and others. He was able to introduce the block and the system so they were aware the application was about to be made, and to give them the opportunity to discuss any likely issues they may come across when processing. As with all the councils to date, they were impressed with the solidity of the product (minimum 150 year build life, and a material life well beyond that) as well as the system itself. In particular, reference was made to the diminished legal risk to council when compared to other building systems.

A 'Further Information Required' letter from council was received 10 days into the consent processing time with 21 items requiring clarification or more detailed information. Of these, only one item related to the Porotherm block and that was concerning the nailing detail for the ply diaphragm ceiling. As with most solid masonry systems, ceiling diaphragms play a major part in the bracing and structural design with the nailing centres half those normally used for a timber frame.

The remaining 20 items concerned minor architectural (truss design, heating and ventilation) and drainage issues (a rural property). For a first consent to be processed by this particular council with a system new to New Zealand, it was a very problem-free experience. This has been the case through all inspections of this build, with Code Compliance due to be signed off at the end of September this year.

Stellaria's first two building consents and now others that have followed have been processed in an equally trouble-free manner through Waipa District, Waikato District, Hamilton City and Auckland City territorial authorities.