Healthy, sustainable and ecological - three words that are becoming increasingly important today. At Scandinavian Blockhaus, these words have been the basic principles from the very beginning. For over 25 years now, the family-owned, traditional company has been building houses out of wood. "Conscious and healthy living means taking responsibility for the world today and that of our children" is how Robert Reitinger sums up the company’s philosophy. In this interview, the construction manager engineer reveals what is special about Scandinavian Blockhaus, what is important in sustainable construction and why they have switched entirely to sheep's wool for isolation.
Mr. Reitinger, Scandinavian Blockhaus is a family business that has been completely dedicated to the element of wood for over 25 years now. How would you describe Scandinavian Blockhaus yourself?
We place great emphasis on "healthy living". This not only means that we make sure that our customers can live well today, but that we also think about future generations. That's why we have dedicated ourselves entirely to wood as a building material - healthy, sustainable and ecological. In recent years, we have tried to avoid construction chemicals and various chemical products as much as possible, and have been able to switch to many materials, for example to sheep wool products.
What is special about Scandinavian Blockhaus?
What is special about us is that we have specialised in a niche product - log houses. We have been around for a very long time and can therefore look back on an incredible amount of experience. And although we have built so many houses, we have remained a small, down-to-earth company.
"What we do and how we do it makes us stand out: your wish is truly our command. This means that ranging from a pure kit delivery to a turnkey house, we make sure everything is a possibility – including assistance from builders. 2/3 of our clients are self-builders, and for 1/3 clients we do the interior finishing."
How many houses do you build per year? And what was the biggest project so far?
We now build 40 to 50 houses in a year. One of the biggest projects is actually on our site. It is a block building with 20 x 20 metre outer walls and three storeys. It houses six residential units.
What other natural materials do you use besides wood?
In recent years, we have completely switched to sheep's wool for insulation. Sheep's wool in the interior walls as sound insulation is already standard, and exterior wall insulation is now actually also standard. In some cases, this is the only possibility available to our customers. Only for roof areas do we use soft wood fibre because of its weight.
Why sheep's wool?
When it comes to insulation, we have switched completely to sheep's wool in the last two years. However, we do not only use sheep's wool for this purpose, but also for table tapes, inlays between the block rolls, sealing tapes of various kinds, and so on. Sheep's wool has many advantages. One is that there is no waste. Any leftover scraps can be recycled - that's a big plus. It is a natural and renewable raw material.
“Our employees really like working with sheep's wool because it has good grip and feels pleasant to use. Especially when you compare it to mineral wool, for example, then you notice how much nicer it is to work with. Even if sheep wool is stored in a corner waiting to be used, it doesn't create dust and one notices that the quality of the room climate is already being transformed."
What should I pay attention to when insulating log houses?
We generally only make log houses, but in a wide range of variants: internal insulation, external insulation or solid. Depending on the size, you need between 30 and 50 cubic metres of sheep's wool per house. Insulation is an issue of its own here because it is built in, i.e., you can't see it. You could therefore quickly say that you don't care what's in it, the main thing is that it should work. Sheep's wool was therefore not one’s first choice because of the cost. But what has become apparent in the meantime is that the advantages simply outweigh the costs. Not only do people like working with the material, but the process is also much faster. This is a clear advantage especially in this day and age where professional hours are becoming more and more expensive.