Zandhoven, Berlaar – Construction company Leo Struyf & Co from Zandhoven, which has been active since 1932 and where the fourth generation has just entered, is now also building houses in wood in addition to the traditional construction method. “We had been looking for an opportunity in that area for some time and are now introducing the innovative Solidwood system within our company,” say Ruben and Wim Struyf.
The Second World War had yet to break out when Fons Struyf started a construction company in Zandhoven. Afterwards, son Leo followed in his footsteps, followed by Wim Struyf. With Ruben Struyf (26) the fourth generation is now part of the company.
Ignore all the houses that the Struyf firm ever built in Zandhoven, and the municipality would look a lot more empty. Even the parish center of Sint-Jozef, which is now on the point of disappearing for the construction of the new leisure centre, was built by the Struyf company. Maddy De Herdt, Wim’s wife, also participates in the company.
Leo Struyf & Co is known as a traditional high-quality construction company. “For some time, we had been looking to do something in the direction of innovative timber construction, but it had to meet our high-quality standard,” says Maddy De Herdt.
That opportunity recently came. Seven years ago, construction company IBC from Zandhoven – known for years for its solid wood construction – introduced the Solidwood system from Germany. It was in response to the increasingly strict energy standards imposed by Flanders. The almost complete airtightness that a BEN (Nearly Energy Neutral) house required was unattainable with the stack construction system used by IBC. But the Solidwood system, which stands for airtight construction with OSB4 panels made from wood chips, is the perfect answer.
After the bankruptcy of IBC, Leo Struyf & Co saw the opportunity to offer this construction method to its customers in addition to the traditional one. Solidwood is now a brand name that falls under the Struyf company.
Roel Schuerwegen, who has been supervising the Solidwood system for seven years now, is now working with Leo Struyf & Co. He knows the construction method through and through. “Every handyman knows an OSB panel that consists of compressed wood chips. But in the case of Solidwood, there are four OSB4 boards – the strongest variant – glued together. A completely airtight building board in which all pipes – such as the electricity – can be laid in a cavity in the plate. The material is as strong as concrete, and you can build up to six stories high with it. Insulation is optionally applied to the outer walls. A Solidwood house is ready in three to four months, from design to delivery.”
When Schuerwegen handed us a small panel, we notices that it is not only as sturdy as concrete but also almost as heavy. The system has been perfected further in recent years. Ruben Struyf designs the ready-made house in Zandhoven in a 3D story according to the customer’s wishes. The panels are subsequently produced in Germany.
“Thanks to the high airtightness, the Solidwood houses are almost energy neutral,” explains Roel Schuerwegen. “Circular construction is not an empty concept at Solidwood. About 30 to 40% of our waste comes from the construction sector. This is an ecological construction method. A Solidwood house can be completely recycled. From the outside, the houses look exactly like a traditionally built house. You can go for all styles, from rustic to sleek. There are still some extra advantages.”
An important additional advantage is that it is a completely dry system. “Since the panels are so strong, they can also serve as a vault for the upper floor. This means we don’t need a screed. The traditional coating is not necessary either, since after sanding you can paint directly on the panels,” explains Schuerwegen.
The wood comes from European, sustainably managed forests. Three times less energy is used for the production of wood composite than for traditional building materials, which is interesting for the ecological footprint.
According to customers who already live in their Solidwood home, the excellent acoustics stand out. “Due to the dry climate and the storage capacity of the inert material, the house automatically feels warmer. All the advantages of timber construction and traditional construction are thus combined.”
Source: GvA – Kristin Matthyssen
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