Technology designed to make big buildings safer in an earthquake is now being adapted for homes.
A new affordable building system’s being tested by Professor Tim Sullivan and his team at Canterbury University.
And so far he says results are promising.
“We're hoping to provide New Zealanders with an option for a higher-performance, low-damage housing system so that if we have big earthquakes like the Canterbury earthquakes - we've even run an alpine-fault simulation that might occur on the alpine fault - we can show that we don't get any damage, don't get any cracking in the paint, we don't have problems.”
Minimising the damage are units knows as base isolation systems.
They’re usually used in commercial buildings but now a version has been developed for homes.
Engineering PHD student Tom Francis says it’s a cost-effective move.
“A commercial base isolator might cost about $10,000, so if we are about to use 15 or 20 of them in a residential building, that's almost the cost of the construction itself so we've made them about 20 times cheaper than that.”
The isolators are similar to traditional piles: they sit under the foundations of a house and include steel plates that can move around absorbing shock.
The team now wants to partner with construction companies to further develop the technology.
And they’re also planning on running a test without the base isolators.
“The house will behave as if it’s just a regular house and we’ll leave all the contents in there and are expecting to see significant cracking and damage… use that as a good comparison so people can understand the improvement in performance you get with base isolators.”