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A pre built home constructed with weatherboard and timber walls and a wooden back porch and steps
With the launch of the Clever Living Co, Bunnings launched an innovative, pre-built home solution that literally includes everything - and the kitchen sink.

When you’re building a house, you can always count on Bunnings for what you need. But did you know that you can now order a complete, fully built home from us as well?

The Clever Living Co. is an exciting new initiative from Bunnings, delivering fully specified prefabricated homes, virtually anywhere in New Zealand. You can choose to have the entire house built offsite and trucked in complete or have a home delivered as a kitset and assembled on-site by a registered builder.

The Clever Living Co. addresses a growing need for well-built, affordable and energy efficient houses that can be quickly constructed and easily transported. Uses range from worker accommodation on a farm to a family bach or in answer to the demand for affordable, good quality urban housing. The new brand follows a global trend toward design-focused, high quality prefabricated homes that offer buyers a serious alternative to the traditional design/build model.

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There are currently five home plans available with ten variations, ranging from two to four bedrooms, and spacious open-plan living areas. Specially designed for New Zealand conditions, each plan has been rigorously tested to meet or exceed local building codes. They’re also fully quantity surveyed, meaning buyers have the confidence of a fixed priced to build and finish a complete home that can be moved into straight away - a real selling point for anyone who’s built in the past.

Once a plan is selected, it’s just a matter of adding finishes and fittings, all of which are supplied directly by Bunnings. While upgrades are available on all features, the comprehensive list of standard fittings in each home is impressive, including Mitsubishi heat pumps, Kaboodle kitchens, Blanco kitchen appliances, Stein bathroom fittings and Sengled smart home technology.

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The other clever part of these houses lies in their construction, employing hi-tech materials to achieve a combination of strength and value. Frames are constructed from LVL timber (Laminated Veneer Lumber), which makes it stronger and lighter than conventional framing, but retains the cost advantages and sustainability of standard framing timber. LVL timber offers several structural advantages, including a high strength to weight ratio and exceptional uniformity, due to the low variability and randomised layers of thin veneers, which are pre-graded for stiffness.

The Clever Living Co. launched in the second half of 2017, with a fully assembled home at Fieldays. Several builds have already been completed and owners have commented that the levels of finish and fittings have exceeded their expectations. To find out firsthand how the build process takes place, Trade Issue caught up with Bunnings Trade Account Manager, Matt Jenkins and Simon Hinds, of Competitive Homes, Kapiti who walked us through the Clever Living Co. home they have just completed in Otaki.

As the primary residence on a sprawling showjumping stud, the four bedroom ‘Dexter’ home already looks well established, surrounded by green paddocks, although at this stage, the landscaping and decking are still to be completed.

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Matt, the Clever Living Co. brand is new to Bunnings Trade, how do you think the product compares with your more established competitors?
MJ:
The biggest selling point for the Clever Living Co. is quality. All the materials are top notch and the list of inclusions is one of the best in the market. You’re getting double glazing, energy efficient products and premium insulation all standard. When customers experience the product, it looks and feels like a proper home with high ceilings and great indoor outdoor flow. When we launched this home, we had 36 people in the living area and it never felt cramped.

Tell us a bit about how the build came about.
MJ:
It started when our clients visited the Bunnings Field Days stand last year. They’d seen our ad in the Farmlands brochure and we had a home set up on site. They’d been looking at a few other options, including trucking an older home to the site. We knew Clever Living Co. could meet their needs more cost effectively.

So what happened next?
MJ:
I followed up, visited the farm and we sat down and went over the numbers. When you added up all the features and the costs it was pretty clear that the Clever Living Co. was going to be their best option. In the end, they went with the Dexter, which isn’t our biggest home, but it provided the flexibility of space they wanted. The standard Dexter plan has two bathrooms, but they decided to remove one bathroom to create extra living space. Once we’d finalised the plan and upgrades, I handed the project over to Simon for the build.

Simon, how many people were employed to work on the project?
SH:
I oversaw the project, but the actual building work was done by just one qualified builder and an apprentice. The kit makes it super efficient because all the details are already sorted. The site had power and a grey water tank, so once the structure was in place, it was a simple process of getting the sparky and plumber to hook everything up.
MJ: The kits are a really convenient option for difficult or remote sites and several of the Clever Living Co. plans, like the Merino series, are specially designed for narrow sites.

So how did Bunnings contribute towards the build?
MJ:
Well after finalising the design and the contract, the Bunnings team handles all the scheduling and delivery throughout the build. That’s probably the most important thing - getting the product on site, on time.
SH: Working with Bunnings means everything is available when you need it. Because it’s all centralised, you know where everything’s going to be on a given day a week out. Everyone’s on the same page and it makes the whole process go a lot smoother.

And what are your key requirements of your suppliers when tackling a project of this size?
SH:
It comes down to trust. Knowing that something is going to be there when you need it and that the project is in a safe pair of hands.

Did you have to work through any challenges to get to the finished project?
SH:
None at all really. It’s a pretty straightforward site and with Bunnings taking care of logistics, it was just a matter of getting on with the build. It takes the pressure off us and in turn, it’s less stressful for the client.

Were any special innovations used in the build?
SH:
The whole process is pretty innovative, but mostly it’s in the materials, like the LVL Framing, the BGC weatherboards and Maglok flooring. They’re great materials to work with and because the multiples are all done to sheet size, you get the best value from your materials too.

So how do the costs compare to a traditional build?
SH:
These homes are a bit smaller, so that’s going to push the per metre cost up a bit, but you’re still looking at around $2,000pm2 compared to $2,300pm2 for a standard build.

Matt, currently you’re promoting Clever Living Co. in the rural market do you see the brand expanding outside of this?
MJ:
Absolutely. New Zealanders are already comfortable with the idea that a prefabricated home can offer all the style and amenities of a traditional house. The government is pushing affordable housing and it’s a great cost effective option for first home buyers. We’re looking at opening show homes starting with Palmerston North and Paraparaumu.

To find out more about Clever Living Co. homes, call the Bunnings Support Centre on (09) 978-2200 and ask to speak to the Trade Team, email sales@bunnings.co.nz or contact your local Bunnings Trade Account Manager.

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