Towards thoughtful home building

As a young boy following my father around building sites, I can vividly remember the sense of wellbeing and happiness that came from a home created using natural materials. The smell of the various timbers and the warm and comforting feel that timber radiated is something I'll always remember. In those days, timber was used more extensively in home building.

We are now at a time in Western Australia where supply chain biases heavily drive material choices and influence building economics. What follows is a somewhat repetitive genre of home building that does little to nothing in moving us towards more sustainable practices.

Applying sustainability and wellness principles that connect with nature and our humanity is often talked about. However, the lack of real change is palpable. Building materials such as concrete, bricks, steel and aluminium draw heavily on energy during the manufacturing process. This results in high carbon dioxide emissions and a high carbon footprint.

As the family behind the Collier Homes ("Collier"), we recognise that the current way falls somewhat short. Multiple studies indicate that nature-inspired design and the use of timber generally evoke feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Health benefits often cited include improved emotional state, blood pressure, heart rate, stress level and air quality. Responsibly sourced and certified timber is our best ally to fight climate change. It reduces our dependency on the energy-hungry manufacturing processes associated with the common material choices in home building.

At Collier, our family goal is to do everything humanly possible to make a positive difference in this regard. With this in mind, we sought to find a true world leader to partner with and assist us in making a difference in the way that we build locally. We didn’t have to research for long.

In the 1980s as a young builder, my wife and I bought an idyllic block in the Adelaide foothills, less than ten kilometers from the city centre. The block was accessed by a road that had not even been sealed and with an abundance of natural vegetation.

Oh yes, and the block also had a very steep contour! As a result, I felt that we needed to have a structural frame to elevate the home and mitigate the need for major retaining structures. So, I began to develop a design comprising steel and concrete. However, I quickly came to the realisation that the home was beginning to look more like a commercial office building, so it was back to the drawing board.

Further study and research led us to a most attractive and more environmentally responsible solution. The solution came from Lindal Cedar Homes ("Lindal"), which is headquartered in Seattle. It became our much loved and most remembered family home.

It was with much pride that my son Alberto and I recently travelled to Seattle to sign an agreement with Lindal, making Collier their Australian representative. The newly formed partnership with Lindal combines the proud family building traditions of both companies, which now spans three generations at each end.

Lindal was the first to receive certification as a Green Approved Building System by the National Association of Homebuilders Research Center in the US, and the only single-family home selected for TIME Magazine’s Green Design 100 (Lindal Cedar Homes 2018). In the space of some twenty years, Lindal has planted over 100,000 trees in the names of its customers in partnership with the American Forests Global ReLeaf program (Lindal Cedar Homes 2018).

Lindal's designs are innovative, sustainable, appealing and embrace some of the best aesthetic by top North American architectural firms including: Altius Architecture; Bates Masi Architects; Carney Logan Burke Architects; David Vandervort Architects; Dowling Studios;  Marmol Radziner; and ZeroEnergy Design (Lindal Cedar Homes 2018). Lindal's Imagine Series is an exciting new collaboration with The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

At Collier, we are very proud to be representing Lindal in Australia.

A relationship that began in the 1980s with the building of our family dream home, has now evolved into a partnership that will set a new standard in thoughtful home building.

Dario Amara FIEAust, CPEng, NER, APEC Engineer, IntPE(Aus) is a second-generation builder, experienced construction and engineering executive and chartered professional engineer with some 40 years' of industry experience.

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