ecokit’s DIY System: Next-Gen Aussie Houses Made Like Lego!

Off-site construction, mass timber and kit-based assembly could hold the key to fixing Australia's housing crisis.

Thu 02 May 24


An Australian start-up is tackling the housing crisis head-on and is using off-site manufacturing and kit-based assembly to build the next generation of energy-efficient, Passive House-certified homes.

Yesterday, ecokit took its breakthrough process and system to Sydney Build – Australia’s largest festival for construction – a major milestone for Camilla Novotna, co-founder and Passive-House Consultant, who has, since Covid, been eying participation in Australia’s top building expo.

The ecokit system consists of prefabricated plywood blocks that are fast and easy to assemble on-site. Four people, skilled or unskilled, can construct a three-bedroom / two-bath dwelling without needing a carpenter or builder!

According to Domain, one of Australia’s leading real estate publications, its DIY know-how is easily the most impressive part of the ecokit system, adding that “it can be assembled in as little as four days—even if you have little or no building experience.”

Everything is customisable, with all the services incorporated during the design phase. Customers choose from a selection of cladding—including Weathertex’s Greentag Platinum certified product—roofing, windows, doors, and more. “Because the main structure is designed to be adaptable, features and options can be added later,” according to the ecokit website.

“I’m told it takes just three weeks to achieve a lockup stage with full weather protection,” according to Andrew Dunn, the CEO of the Australian Timber Development Association, who spotted the system whilst scanning the Expo floor yesterday.

Assembly is 60% faster than traditional building methods. ” The engineering construction system is effortless,” Mr Dunn said, adding that “there’s no heavy lifting and no cranes required, as a couple of workers can safely lift most components.”

Now working with brands like IKEA, the system was born after Ms Novotna, sick of the status quo, came up with an idea to create a simple, compact structure that would be comfortable, well-insulated, and made of non-toxic materials. That led to a one-off design in 2015, with the first prototype going into total production in 2018.

According to the ecokit website, “The concept of a small DIY eco house was born as an alternative solution to dwellings that could be quickly built by an inexperienced owner builder and on a much lower budget than the standard Australian home.” 

A lack of knowledge in Australia about prefab, modular, and mass timber inspired Ms Novotna to partner with Vesper Frames, a Czech-based engineering company, to help her develop a kit of parts for a home that is “modern, energy-efficient, healthy, and sustainable.”

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In 2015, Camilla Novotna, co-founder of Ecokit, designed a new system that aimed to bring development in modular, prefab and mass timber technology to the Australian marketplace. (Photo Credit: Media Pack from Ecokit’s website)

At the Expo, ecokit showcased its innovative wall system, fabricated from plywood, on a CNC machine and the parts are then pre-assembled into the insulated components with connecting material pre-installed. The fabrication is done in Melbourne, and the sub-assembly is in regional Victoria.

As for the future? Ms Novotna is motivated to make the world a more beautiful & sustainable place, adding that ecokit has three new case studies on their website – one in one in Marysville in Victoria, another in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and a third in Jindabyne, New South Wales. And that is only the beginning! 


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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