Earth is truly the ubiquitous building material, making earth buildings seem an obvious option for early settlers. However, its use was limited.
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The recent building of a full-sized house made of Lego by James May, a presenter of the television programme Top Gear and, more recently, his own series Toy Stories, showed that the world of toy bricks and real bricks might not be too far apart.
With electricity costs on the increase and air pollution a serious issue, thermal insulation has an essential role in keeping a building warm, dry and comfortable for its occupants while helping to preserve the environment.
Building legislation was first introduced into New Zealand’s provincial councils in the 1840s, and its progression provides an insight into the building problems and aspirations of early European settlers.
As with many building inventions, corrugated iron traces its origins back to the coming together of the right raw material, idea and machinery.
Prone to earthquakes and with abundant native timber, New Zealand was quick to adopt timber as a building cladding. It could even replicate stone with design elements such as quoins.
Winters past used to be scented by the smell of burning coal and timber. By 2005, though, only 10% of New Zealand homes were heated this way as clean air regulations discouraged the use of these smog-creating fuels.
Quick to go up and slow to come down, timber framing enabled New Zealand to house its rapidly growing population in the early 1900s and has proved to be an enduring building system.
Around since the early days of New Zealand settlement, concrete is everywhere, from paths to pools, foundations to fountains.
Although New Zealand has always had plenty of iron ore, it’s only since the 1970s that we have enjoyed a viable steel industry and an increase in the use of steel framing.