Natural House, a company mainly engaged in the production of timber frame houses and garden houses, has successfully entered the Scandinavian market, where quality is more important than price. (2007 June)
Natural House workers are currently building apartment houses in a ski resort in Nesbyen, Norway. In total, there will be about 500 apartments, 32 of which are ready. These are apartments for Norwegians who go on a holiday in the mountains. In addition, a wealthy Oslo businessman commissioned a 600 square meter private house from the company. The whole project cost the client between 5 and 10 million krones, Natural House was to supply the house details complete with erecting the elements.
The company started to grow rapidly after 2004, when Estonia joined the European Union and the construction and real estate market gained momentum. Both in Estonia and in the north, there was a greater demand for high quality wooden houses, which do not take too long to be built. Heiki Jürissaar, CEO of Natural House, says that over the past three years, the company has grown its turnover by over 100 percent. According to him, the timber frame houses in Estonia are known for their good quality in the Scandinavian market, which gives an eye to the production of companies from other Eastern European countries, such as Poland.
“When we listen to clients in Scandinavia, according to them the best carpenters are in Finland, followed by Swedes and then Estonians. Our work culture is praised, ”says Jürissaar.
Because of the high demand for wooden houses in the market, the company does not have to do anything other than simply build high quality wooden modular houses and follow the best practices of the building culture. This is how information about the company reaches potential customers. Of course, not every home-maker in the Nordic countries can succeed – the customers there have a subtle technical taste that just needs to be known. Natural House started with garden houses in its time. After that, summer houses and dwellings were manufactured and installed. Currently, the company can even erect a wooden apartment building. One such three-storey house, for example, was built in Lillehammer, Norway. The elements of the Natural House houses will be completed at a workshop in Roiu near Tartu, Estonia. In total, about 30 people work there and on the site.
It takes a few months from the order to the erection of the house, three to four weeks on the site, once the foundation is complete. In 2004, the company’s main market was Denmark, followed Finland. Now, however, most orders come from Norway.
The difference in attitude towards wooden buildings in the Nordic countries and Estonia is noteworthy. “While in Estonia, a wooden house is a relatively cheap and poor quality house, in the Nordic countries a wooden house is more appreciated. The reason is that in Scandinavia, for hundreds of years, wooden houses have been built without compromising quality, ”says Jürissaar. Jürissaar adds that if Estonian manufacturers of log and timber frame houses could cooperate with each other, their chances in the Nordic countries would be even better than at present, where every company does its own thing.
According to Jürissaar, the company’s goal is to do more and better and grow its annual sales by at least 10-20 percent. “Of course, we realize that in order to achieve this, there must be development – growth in growth,” he says, with a particular focus on product development and increased efficiency. “It is about resources – availability of labor, prices of construction materials. On the other hand, the potential to sell is huge, ”he adds. At the moment Natural House mainly uses Estonian materials, but the price difference with Scandinavian ones is not as big as before. According to Jürissaar, some interior finishing materials, such as certain gypsum board products, are even more expensive in Estonia than in Norway.
Source: Innovation magazine HEI (Good Estonian Idea) 2007 June issue
Author: Toivo Tänavsuu, Eesti Ekspress