Building with Yardstix

Image by Michael Wee.

Image by Michael Wee.

Today, we chat with Nicholas Gurney, one half of new Sydney-based residential design and construction company, Yardstix. They focus on delivering beautiful, sustainable, affordable, small houses (particularly secondary dwellings) that can be built in as little as two weeks (!) through using cross laminated timber panels.

How did Yardstix begin? Could you tell us a little about your background and why you are launching Yardstix?

Yardstix is a collaboration between me (designer Nicholas Gurney) and builder Alex Ogjnenovski. The company was spawned to provide a green alternative to the cookie cutter granny flat.

How are your homes built?

Our homes are constructed using Cross Laminated Timber (or CLT) and manufactured using the latest computer numerical control (CNC) machining technology. The panels are lifted onto site via a crane and assembled panel by panel. This process enables very fast assembly on site. Provisions for services are in place prior to the erection of the panels and then connected in due course.

What features and materials help make Yardstix homes environmentally friendly and affordable? Why did you choose cross laminated timber over other materials?

A Yardstix house is designed with passive haus principles; low-energy buildings that require little-to-no energy for space heating or cooling. CLT is a very sustainable construction material. Timber is renewable, fast growing and stores carbon to help save our planet. We chose CLT due to its speed of construction and because it out performs conventional framed construction in air tightness, thermal insulation, internal moisture management, acoustic insulation and fire resistance.

How long does it typically take to construct a Yardstix home? How does this compare to traditional building methods?

A Yardstix house can be constructed on site in as little as two weeks. A conventional building of the same size could take 4-6 months.

Where do you build? Can the Yardstix homes be built off-grid?

We’re able to construct a home anywhere that a crane can gain access. A Yardstix house is ideal for off-grid architecture as they require no energy to heat or cool and the construction time in remote locations can be drastically minimised.

What do you think are the benefits of living in a small home?

While there are the obvious, well-publicised financial benefits, we firmly believe there is something satisfying about inhabiting spaces without surplus or excess. It can prompt the occupant to consider the items they bring into their home and to better care for them. In cities, where intensifying density is paramount, small homes are critical and more malleable. Small homes are greener; they require less energy, less material, less maintenance. Oh, and less stress!

We firmly believe there is something satisfying about inhabiting spaces without surplus or excess.

What does a typical day look like for you?

We’re very much in our infancy. Our present focus is on completing our first run of houses, responding to inquiries, fostering relationships with suppliers and building our brand.

Who and/or what inspires you design-wise?

We’re inspired by considered examples of sustainable living arrangements; multi- generational living, slow living, off-grid living and everything in between.

What’s next for Yardstix?
Refine our processes, perfect our houses and spread the word!

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Image by Michael Wee

Kate Derbyshire