The Viva Panel is a load-bearing structural panel made of natural straw bales.
They’re pre-finished, meaning they’re nearly 90% complete once installed. 

Pop them up yourself or have your builder or us build them.

Viva Panels versus SIPS, tilt up concrete panels
The Viva Panels are natural, healthy, super insulated, sustainable and energy efficient. They also come shipped with conduits installed.
They’re just as easy to install as these materials and similar price. They’re the same thickness. 

Why We Created the Viva Panels

COST SAVINGS – We could see the cost of building increasing. We wanted to save you, our clients costs. We also wanted to save costs ourselves while having the same quality when we’re buildign homes. We wanted no excuses to choose healthy homes. The Viva Panels:

  • Reduce levels of specialist skills needed, they’re a product they just have to ship to site, just render or clad like usual
  • Less experienced people can be on site, as it’s a prefabricated building system


SPEED – The more efficient and fast we build, the better it is for everyone. If we reduce our hours on site, we reduce overall costs

  • They’re faster to install than conventional wall system (bricks, gyprock)
  • Less logistics organising suppliers, trades, materials or labour 
  • Less exposed to weather
  • Saving you at least 6 weeks on a build


QUALITY – We guarantee our homes, so we aim for high quality. Because Sam has been an expert witness on a few cases we’ve seen the good and the bad, what can go wrong – renders failing with mouldy homes, windows leaking, budget blowouts, communication issues. With natural building it requires skills and experience to get it right. 
We wanted to take out the guess work so everyone could get a repeatable, consistent result.

SCALEABLE – Because our goal is to inspire 10,000 natural homes we’d love that everyone can build them easily, quickly, affordably, with consistent results. We wanted to provide natural, healthy products that are energy efficient, have no carbon footprint, and be genuinely sustainable. We’re aiming to make building a whole lot easier

  • Reduce problems on site as it’s all been pre built in a factory to quality standards
  • You can clad or render the walls
  • The only work to do is final render coat or cladding
  • Less waste on site reduces costs 

Read below for more info and click on tabs below

Benefits of the Viva Panels vs Conventional Building Materials

  • They’re super insulated, structural panels
  • They’re faster to install than conventional timber framed walls (which need numerous trades and materials made on site)
  • Installation is easy. It’s similar to tilt-up concrete panels, structural insulated panels (SIPS) or prefab walls. Cranes install them quickly
  • Less suppliers and trades (walls are shipped with conduits and ready for services)
  • Shortened build time of at least 6 weeks (conventional house)
  • Reduces problems and having to problem-solve on the go
  • Fix and lock the panels down and sideways. Bracing and racking has already been done
  • You can have cladding or render as the finished look
  • The only work to do is final render coat or cladding
  • Services are already roughed-in
  • At least 20% less waste on site 

How the Viva Panels Work

STEP 1 – DESIGN your plans to fit our standard sized panels (they’re the same thickness as conventional building materials)

for best cost savings and easier installation.
They’re 2452mm high x 1200mm long x 255mm thick walls. 

Yes, custom sized panels can be made 

We can help you with plans if you need a plans by our draftsperson or architect

STEP 2 – ROUGH ESTIMATE Contact us with your plans for a rough estimate. Know what your budget is for your home and the walls. 

STEP 3 – COUNCIL APPROVAL Get your application approved and finances ready. Get an all-weather accessible driveway (you don’t want a semi trailer bogged on site as you’ll have to pay to get it out

STEP 3 – PRICING Finalise your plans and we’ll give you a firm price.

STEP 4 – ORDER Put an order in, we’ll give you an ETA. Get your foundations ready!

STEP 5 – INSTALL Get some carpenters or builders on site for installation. Ensure you have tarps to protect the walls and ensure the roof goes on immediately after they’re installed. This is important

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Viva Panels

Do they come in standard sizes?
Yes, the main standard size we try and build to is 1200x2400x255

Do you have standard window and door sizes?
Yes, please see our standard window and door size information

What if what I want isn’t standard?
That’s ok, we understand that some panels won’t be standard size.
We can create custom sizes for you (custom panels are more expensive than the standard sizes)

Can you draw up plans for me?
Yes, we have a design service. It covers building to your site, your area, is solar passively design, to the Viva Panel system, we’ll even have our architect look over the design for any ideas. 
You’ll also receive a panel plan, window and electrical schedule with your plans and would make sure that the dimensions sizes match our standard panels and window sizes.
Our plans are fully ‘council ready’. We’ll need a geotech report, surveyor’s plans and photos from you.

I already have my plans drawn up, can I still use them?
Yes, we will need to have a panel plan done for your plans.
We would need to do that before we would be able to give you an accurate quote.

What’s the cost? 
Give us a call as it depends on the size of your build. Transport to site and electrical fit out will need to be allowed for.

Standard sizes 1200L x 2400 H x 255W
(600mm and 900mm wide panels are also standard)

Why choose the panels over strawbales?
Save space inside – They take up less floor space
They’re less expensive
Way quicker to install than straw bale wall systems
Less skill needed as we’ve done all of the planning and hard work already
Less rendering! 
Healthier than man-made materials that use glues and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) 

Why choose the panels over conventional building materials?

  • Super insulated like nothing else on the market for the width of the panels
  • Healthy & Sustainable 
  • Energy efficient, highest star ratings achieved
  • Healthy house / Building biology (healthy moisture/air in apartments which is a major issue in Europe and Australian apartments)
  • Neutral Carbon footprint

What’s the R value?
R4.1
Considering usual wall systems with conventional materials are either 0.25 (bricks) to R2 max, the Viva Panels are double most other materials
Standard Straw Bale walls are R7.1 on their edge. R4 is still a lot more than conventional building products. 
We recommend R4 in your ceiling insulation and double glazed windows. The windows are the weakest point in your home if your walls and ceilings are R4. 

Are they load bearing?
Yes and structural meaning that they support the roof

Can I build two storey buildings with them?
Yes, contact us first to ensure your downstairs can support upstairs

Are they only for granny flats or can I use them on a house?
You can use them on both

Multi buildings and multi storeys
Yes the Viva Panels can be used in apartments, townhouses. They’re better as infill to comply to fire and cladding regulations.

Can I use them on a concrete slab or just bearers and joists?
Yes both

How are they attached to my foundations?
A rail is attached to the slab and then the panels are attached to the rail.

Can I use them as internal walls?
You can, they are wider than standard internal walls. We recommend using thermal mass (solid earth) inside your building to a few of your internal walls if you can in order to help regulate the temperature through the seasons.

Do they come with render on both sides?
We have two different options, you can have them with render on both sides (Earth render internal/Lime render external) or you can have render on the inside and cladding on the outside.

Can I use other cladding?
Yes depending on your bushfire zone you can use Colorbond/custom orb, Weathertex, weather boards, fibre cement sheeting,

How do you finish them off?
Once onsite and in place then we set the joints with a layer of mesh and then apply another coat of render to smooth off the walls and give you your finished product.

Cladding is joined externally with whatever fixing method is required for the type of cladding you use.

Can I paint the render?
Yes, once they are installed and finished off you can paint them with breathable paints, or you can just leave them as they come. 
They’re versatile – whatever look you are after.

Are they easy to transport?
They are transportable, they go onto pallets and a crane is needed to unload them.

How heavy are they?
300kg render both sides
250kg render internal, ply external

How do you get them to site and into place?
They are delivered on a truck with a crane on pallets, they are lifted off the truck and put as close to possible to final installation spot.
They are heavy and can be moved with a dolly (on wheels). They require more than one person to move them around.

Can I install them myself?
Yes, we’ll give you full instructions and videos on how to do it

Can you install them for me?
Yes, we’ll just quote beforehand for installation fees. Our team know the panels so they are fast. 

How do I install my electricity?
We run conduit and put electrical boxes into place before we seal them with render, so you’ll need to have your electrical plans ready with everything you need.

Can I install plumbing in the panels?
Yes you can install plumbing into the panels, there will be more cost involved.  We often use standard frames for wet areas.  

How long does it take to install them?
Depends on how big the house or granny flat is. For most houses or granny flats we can install in less that a day ready for the trusses to go on.

Can they get wet?
No, it’s best if they don’t, you’ll need to protect them from any rain with plastic and have everything organised so that you can install your trusses and your roof as soon as possible.

Can I hang things on the wall? What about my kitchen cupboards?
The panels have solid timber frames every 1200mm (if it’s a standard panel) so you can easily hang what you need to on the walls.

Are they cheaper than strawbale houses or other full sized straw bale wall systems?
Yes, a lot cheaper. On a standard 200m2 straw bale home, you’d save around $60,000 ($300 per square metre saving from our estimates). 

Are they cheaper than conventional materials?
We’re aiming to have them at least the same price as conventional wall materials. It might take us a few homes to get it right, but the more people who use them, the easier it is to get economies of scale.

What’s is the bushfire rating? 
The rendered walls (Polar Bear) can go to 90/90/90. BALLow, BAL12, 19, BAL29, BAL40 BALFZ
(BAL40 and BALFZ are a lot more expensive)

Clad walls depend on the rating of the cladding. Usually at least to BAL19

Pest control, termites / white ants, rodents and other critters
The walls are rendered so animals don’t want to just dig through dirt or lime.
It’s like any other house. Best to keep the critters out in the first place. 

We deliver your Viva Panels to site. The truck leaves the panels on the slab or flooring on pallets.
You or the builder organises the crane on site to move the panels off the truck and into place. 

Building Specs for Architects, Builders & Designers

They arrive on site pre-rendered, with services ready for rough-in. They’re 90% finished walls. 

As a builder (we’ve built over 60 straw bale homes), we save so much money and time as rendering straw bales is time consuming.

  • They’re faster to install
  • Less logistics organising suppliers and trades
  • Less exposed to weather
  • We’ve saved at least 6 weeks on a build
  • Reduces problems on site
  • Reduces the thinking on site by the team, they’re a product they just have to ship to site
  • Less experienced people can be on site, as it’s a system
  • You can clad or render
  • The only work to do is final render coat or cladding
  • Services are already roughed-in 

Finished Wall Thickness

255mm + 3mm for render external finish

255mm for cladding finish

Standard size

 

 

2452mm high x 1200mm long (best value)

600mm or 900mm long are other standard-length panels

 

Custom sizes

Custom Panels of different sizes and shapes can be manufactured; however, they’re more expensive than standard panels

R Value

R4.1

Foundations

Panels can be installed on slabs or
bearer and joists floor systems

Wall Heights

 

Higher walls can be made with our custom panels which are more expensive per square metre

Two Storey

 

Two storey buildings can be built using these panels
However, the downstairs walls cannot be structural
They have to be post and beam at this stage

Eaves

Eaves are essential to protecting the walls for the long term. We recommend 400-600mm eaves depending on solar gain required

Electrics/GPO Panels

 

 

 

All power outlets and light switches are provided for with conduits running vertically from the ceiling space to wall boxes installed during production. The walls are already prepared for “rough-in” and electrical “fit-out” (see photo above with electrical box ready for wiring. Switches and GPO’s are connected and screwed off to these wall boxes which are hidden within the panels

Roofs

Hip roofs are the easiest and most cost effective
Skillion and gable roofs just need custom panels

Window sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Std Window Opening Width (mm)

500

1100

1400

1700

2300

Window Heights
Can be any height.
We usually design to louvre heights 

It’s easier and cheaper if you design window opening sizes to our standard window sizes. Centre window to the panel

 

Window lintels and sills

 

 

 

 

 

Load-bearing lintels can be made to sit above
or below windows
Lintel beams are usually no less than 200mm
Sills Can be any height.

Finishing of the internal side of the panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panels are shipped to site with render on the internal skin (15mm thick).

They’re ready for a final skim coat of render (lime or earth) to be applied (approx. 3-5mm).

 

After this final skim coat of render, this is a finished wall

 

 

 

 

 

Installation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The panels are shipped, ready to be craned by you/the Builder directly into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walls for a standard house can be erected ready for trusses in one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panels Must be Protected

 

 

From any moisture upon delivery on site.

They must be covered and fully weather-proofed up until the roof is on, sarking and external cladding has been fitted

 

Fixing together

 

The panels are screwed together with batten screws at 600 Centre’s up the inside frame. 
They sit over and are fixed to a track (‘toe-up’) that is pre-fixed to the slab or bearers and joists

Engineering

 

 

 

The structural capacity of each standard sized panel is 10.9kN so in most applications no further wind bracing, or structural reinforcement is necessary.

An Engineer’s certificate is provided for the manufactured panels.

The Builder will need to comply to manufacturer’s specifications and provide the installation certificate

 

Choose from Three Finish Options:

 

 

Option 1: Plywood Rhino panels
(you can clad in weatherboards or Colorbond)

Cheapest panel option, good for granny flats, sheds, owner builders, or builders who can finish the job

 

Option 2: T-Rex Panels

Pre-clad in our factory using
‘Natural Weathertex’ panels. So the external panel is a finished product as it is installed on site

Upstairs is the ‘T Rex Panels’

Downstairs is the ‘Polar Bear’

Cladding outside

 

Option 3: Polar Bear

with a lime render finish. They come shipped to site with 2 coats of lime render.

Finishing just requires a skim coat of 5mm after window installation. Can be done by renderers or less experienced trades

The render coats are tapered at each edge so the joints can be set and a skim coat of lime or earth render can be applied to the entire surface.

Minimises costs and need for professional natural building professionals

Downstairs lime render is the
‘Polar Bear’ finish

Lead Time to Manufacture

5 weeks after deposit received

Weight of Panel

1200 x 2400mm = 300kg

Or 105 per square metre with 2 coats of render

Installation Time

 

 

Install all walls with 2 carpenters & labourer with a crane on site. Only a final coat of render needs to be done (and taped) and/or cladding to be fitted

  • 2 hours for a 34m2 granny flat
  • 6 hours for a standard 3-4 bedroom home
    (standard wall heights)

 

 

 

Bushfire & Fire  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Weathertex cladding has a bushfire rating of BAL19

  • Lime Render can attain a bushfire rating of
    BAL29, BAL40 & BALFZ (flamezone) It costs more the higher the bushfire BAL rating

  • FRL 90 x 90 x 90
    Based on German fire tests done in 2014. 
    In non domestic buildings sprinkler & drenching systems may be required to meet the National Construction Code (NCC)