trop_pods Q & A

What are trop_pods?

trop_pods are a system of portable, flat-pack architectural elements that come together to create nifty, tough and durable dwelling spaces. Pods work splendidly for residential and tourism purposes, both as standalone independent abodes or aggregated to complete thoughtful and interesting design solutions for eco-camps and holiday settings.

And all trop_pods come with an architectural service to fit them to your particular site and needs!

Who are trop_pods?

trop_pods are the result of 4 year skill-sharing collaboration between Oscar Building and troppo architects.

Oscar Building are a country-based 3-generation family company, with a strong ethos of innovation and community service.  Their factory site in Horsham connects immediately to Australia’s highway network. Where appropriate Oscar will pair with local builders and trades to ensure efficient pod installation.

troppo have practiced in all Australian states, and have 6 offices around Australia. Environmentally responsive regional architecture is what they do – and for which have been awarded the Architects Gold medal (2014) and Global Sustainable Architecture Award (2010, Paris). troppo are winners of over 100 awards for projects across Australia (and overseas).

What makes trop_pods affordable?

Because they’re systemised they’re very affordable; and because they’re fabricated in controlled factory conditions, they always achieve quality, and minimise on-costs of building site management.

troppo’s high level, regionally responsive architectural service is integrated in your trop_pod cost, and adds untold value to your trop_pod selection and enhancement.

How are trop_pods priced, given each site will be different?

We can immediately provide you with the price of a standard pod, and a range of transport and installation costs for readily accessed and flat sites, with straightforward building approvals.

If you wish to proceed toward a trop_pod purchase, we will refine this generic costing to give you a ‘preliminary price’ to fit your site, personal needs and local authority requirements.

If we’re happy with the preliminary price, how do we then contract to purchase a pod?

It costs you nothing to ask us for the preliminary price for a particular pod type. At that time, to enable this pricing to be reasonably accurate, we will need some basic site information, including your address (which will give us access to Goggle Earth) and some site photographs, and an indication of your existing site services (power, water, gas and drainage), if relevant.

If you wish to proceed, then the next step to an eventually contracted firm price will take time. We’ll do this through working closely with you and local authorities. It will be dependent on conversations with you around final site-planning, detailed pod design adaptations and fitout specifications; and our investigation of any site servicing and access issues, and your Council/ Shire or State/ Territory approvals requirements.

The process of moving from a preliminary price to a firm price will be transparent, and broken down to all detailed additions and deductions, transport, site and authority requirements.

Because this work is a very serious part of turning your pod dream into a well-fitting reality, we ask you to enter into a contract to purchase at the time of accepting the preliminary price.

Is there an immediate cost outlay at contract signing?

Yes, as there may be significant work in design adaptation and planning to fit with your site, at the commencement of your contract with trop_pods, we ask for payment of 5% of the preliminary price before proceeding to the next steps. This cost will of course be absorbed into the final price.

In this process, you will be served by the abilities of one of Australia’s leading architects, armed with good local knowledge.

Once contracted, what further information do you need to commence adapting the trop_pod design to our specific site circumstances?

We’ll probably ask for more site information, including ‘mud maps’ around site access, specific site photographs and site descriptions should afford our architects enough information to proceed with confidence. If feasible, and we’re close to hand, for a modest fee we can attend site and engage in discussions face-to-face in determining final site-planning and pod design decisions.

We’ll also likely need to carry out soil tests at this time, to enable footing engineering to proceed.

If it is deemed to be prudent to have a surveyor carry out work to establish levels and locate services, adjacent buildings, trees or other site features, then we’ll advise you – and obtain competitive local surveyor quotes on your behalf. This cost will be transparently integrated in your finally contracted trop_pods price.

When do I fully pay for my trop_pod?

After the initial 5% payment to finalise design detail, a stepped payment method is used, with significant amount held back till final installation.

How long might it take for my pod to arrive once contracted?

Unless you’re located outside of Council/ Shire or State or Territory Building Control areas, your pod will likely require Development Approval. Around Australia, the time for this process is highly variable, but we can advise after making pre-contract contact with your local Authority.

Once approvals are gained, your pod fabrication time is brief – but lead-time will be dependent on production line capacity. However, the more expansive or bespoke your pod project, the longer the fabrication time; the more pods and the more complex their arrangement, the longer the site install time. Fabrication time might be 1-2 months, and transport and  commencement of install might span 1 or 2 weeks, though site time, depending on the scope of siteworks and in-situ services, will usually only be measured in days.

Can trop_pods carry out site services connections and other in-situ work?

trop_pods can co-ordinate local trades on your behalf, and integrate these costs within your pod price; or, you may prefer to manage this work yourself. With adequate site information from you, and/ or a surveyor (as described above), our architects are able to affordably document the requirements for this site work. We will integrate a fee for this service within the final trop_pods price.

How are the designs specific to tropical and sub-tropical climates? To temperate climates, cold climates?

trop_pods pursue solar-passive design principles, including for sunshading, insulation, thermal balance, cross ventilation and release of rising heat. Through the site-planning and approvals process for your pod, employment of these principles will shape recommendations for adaptations to your pod to fit with its orientation, site context and the prevailing climate.

Can the pods be made larger?

Yes, but… Transport dimensions are constrained by State and Territory authorities. Wider loads, whilst generally possible, will incur additional transport costs, due escort and travel time parameters. Additional cost/ m2 may also rise significantly due to engineering requirements for increased spans, and for re-design. Non-standard designs may also delay fabrication time.

Is it possible to extend the decks?

Yes, though with the same considerations above – but, depending on the pod arrangement, and likely with less cost impact. Free-standing additional decks, with fabric or solid awnings are a possible pod addition, designed to fit with your site context.

How much is customisable? Can you customise the fitout?

trop_pods can be broadly bespoke. In general, fitout – in terms of detailed design, material and colour selection – is very much able to be customised to suit your needs.

Our architectural services include interior design, and Oscar Building is also a furniture manufacturer. Laser cutting of personalised designs can be undertaken at a modest cost, including for graphic design co-ordination.

Some selections of finishes and fittings may extend the fabrication time, and possibly cost.

Can you up-spec in terms of energy efficiency for thermal comfort?

Yes, but small structures, unlike cellular plan forms with the shielding effect of many rooms (and even despite increased levels of insulation) will remain affected more directly by ambient external temperatures. This does mean that pods will more quickly cool with reducing (eg. night-time) temperatures – in fact a boon in the tropics.

Can the pods be air-conditioned? Can they be retro-fitted for air-conditioning?

Yes – but definitely not a good idea for autonomous solar power installations. Pods all have vapour barriers to minimise the risk of internal condensation should air-conditioning be post-fitted. Through expressed screw fixing, wall cavities are generally accessible to run air-conditioning cables and conduits at a later detail – but electrical boards will need to be pre-ordered or post-fitted for adequate capacity.

In the trop_pod images there are materials I’m not sure about. How can I see and better understand them?

trop_pods are built of ‘real’ Australian made materials, selected for their sustainability credentials, durability and ability to ‘age gracefully’. Plastic laminates, plasterboard and paint are not part of our standard offer. Aside from full descriptions and images of all trop-pod materials being supplied to you prior to contracting, on request, we are able to forward you (anywhere in Australia) actual samples of any particular materials/ finishes.

Can trop_pods be erected in bushfire zones?

Generally, yes. Depending on the rating of your site, there will likely be upgrading of some pod details, and integration of skirting screens.

Are trop_pods stronger than the transportables I’m used to seeing?

trop_pods all include structural steel super-structures, with lighter weight steel infill framing, and tough, durable linings. They are all individually engineered and certified – for all wind-loadings and settings around Australia, including for cyclonic areas.

Do all trop_pods require building approval?

The Hard Tents are towable structures, and in most jurisdictions will be able to be considered as chattels rather than buildings. However, these and any pod that includes a bathroom will require authority approvals.

How much is prefabricated and how much is done on site?

All trop_pod wet areas (bathrooms, laundries and kitchens) are delivered fully finished as ‘portables’. Open planned spaces such as sleeping and living areas are generally flat-packed to minimise transport costs. The flatpack portions are assembled on site.

For projects involving numerous pods, trop_pods will partner with local builders and trades to ensure a timely and cost-effective install.

How much site disturbance will there be?

trop_pods require good access to crane pod elements to the build site. We will determine if any trees require trimming etc prior to finalising your contract price.

trop_pods use a ‘Surefoot’ concrete-free footing systems, so there is no excavation. The only excavation will be for any siteworks requirements you may have, or for services connections purposes. You may also wish us to provide a compacted base to fall ground water away from and beneath the pod.

My cousin is a builder. Can we carry out fitout or installation ourselves to keep down the costs?

Yes. As portions of most trop_pods come flatpacked, site erection can be carried out by the purchaser. Of course you can also carry out fitout tasks yourselves – perhaps some internal linings and cabinetry after completion of the pod shells.

Arrangements around Completion Certificates can be discussed, and finalised at the time of contracting.

Can trop_pods be leased or purchased on terms?

Yes. If you ask, we can give you sample proposals, which will be finalised at the time of contracting.