An Australian innovation is changing the way people think about external wall panels and value for money. An Australian company, Ecobuild solutions, has developed a building material solution that takes cost out of construction, reduces the cost of ownership, and simply looks stunning.
The cladding company manufactures a range of panels under the brand names realstone and insuwall. Realstone is exactly that, real stone that when fixed to a wall acts and looks like a real stone block. Insuwall is a larger flat panel that is used for external cladding applications, and can be painted or textured finish. Both cladding solutions offer remarkable benefits compared to bricks and mortar, stone blocks, or other panelling systems.
The real stone product range is clad with real stone finishes. The panels are fused with a insulation material on the back of the stone, that also acts as a fixing method. The insulation contains a groove, that then is used by an easy fix rail to connect the stone to the building. The result is a lightweight stone panel that is incredibly strong but easy to handle, transport, and with the added benefit of a high insulation rating.
So how does this real stone cladding option compare cost wise to other options on the market? Firstly it is important to understand what costs to include. There is the cost of transport, the heavier and more bulky the solution, the higher the cost. Then there is the cost of labor, the longer it takes to install, the higher the cost. There is also the type of labour to consider, a stone mason for example is a more expensive resource than a carpenter.
Other costs include are site costs. For example, if water is used measures must be taken to manage waste and runoff, or if heavy items are used then there will be a requirement for lifting machinery and support systems.
Finally there are insulation and preparation costs which vary for different building materials and cladding approaches.
The real stone cladding solution has a number of advantages in all of these areas. It is lightweight relative to bricks and stone, it requires no wet trades, and because it is easy to fix, the installation process is relatively fast and requires carpenter level skills. The panels also come with integrated insulation, so less labour and less building materials are required compared to alternatives. Simple, but how does the panelling system compare in cost to other cladding options on the market?
In this article we will estimate costs to give a rough guide to achieve a m2 cost excluding gst. That estimate includes material costs, installation and supply, insulation and preparation. We will use estimated costs based on the rates in the market for a regular building but obviously any rate given will be affected by a number of factors. Importantly all of the building material products considered are compliant with our building codes for cladding and panel solutions.
One of the most expensive options is to use sandstone blocks, which have an estimated cost of $500 m2. Of course the result is a cladding solution that looks beautiful, has considerable prestige, and will last a lifetime. Ecobuild’s real stone solution however would yield a similar outcome, at less than half the m2 cost! Their range of real sandstone panels can offer the prestige of sandstone blocks at a fraction of the cost.
Lets look at some other cladding options. Limestone blocks can cost a lot less than sandstone blocks as low as $230m2. Modern cladding systems like alucabond are usually over $300m2. Double brick is around $220m2. All of these cladding solutions are wonderful, but all of them are more expensive than realstone panels by Ecobuild solutions.
The realstone panels by Ecobuild solutions are around $180m2 which makes them cheaper than aerated concrete, concrete blocks, and around the same price as brick veneer. However with realstone panels, the cladding result is a real stone block finish. That cladding option typically adds a lot of capital value to a property.
Further realstone has insulation integrated into the wall panel which will reduce the energy costs for the lifetime of the building.
As a value proposition to the environment, compared to other building materials considered here, realstone also has a lower carbon footprint. It uses relatively less energy in it’s manufacture than bricks and cement based products, and because it is a lightweight panel, it consumes less energy in transport and construction.
Many modern buildings are now designed with flat panels and cladding systems in mind. These building have shaper corners and clean finished lines. Using the same methodology how do available cladding solutions that are building code compliant compare?
The most popular cladding approaches use fibre cement or fibre cement composite panels, or weatherboard systems. These cladding systems typically cost upwards of $140m2 when all of the above cost areas are considered. Ecobuild’s insuwall is around $130m2. Not only is it cheaper but it also better for the environment.
Unlike fibre cement and wood based panels, Ecobuild uses building materials that do not harm the environment. It is made with 100 percent recyclable materials, uses no harmful HFC’s in production, and the manufacture of the panels is completed using low heat/low energy production models.
The building materials used by Ecobuild also have no food value, so unlike wood based products, vermin have no interest in an insuwall panel. The insuwall panels are also naturally moisture and water resistant.
Finally, as energy costs go up, insuwall’s high r values makes it excellent insulator and money saver for the life of the building.
Comparing the cost and value of cladding and panels of traditional stone, bricks and mortar approaches, or composite panels, finds that Ecobuild solutions not only offers cost advantages, but value for the environment and added value for your finished dwelling.