By: Lea Kalc Furlanič
Do you want to live in a new, modern, architecturally and technologically designed house as quickly as possible and at reasonable prices? The right address is the houses from Žiher, Ltd., which has nearly 40 years of tradition in construction, and since 2004 has been competing in the market for building energy-efficient prefabricated houses that are affordable and offer the best combination of quality and price. They produce two lines of houses, and recently they have been focusing on a new line of smaller houses called SmartHouse.
At the Celje Fair, where they presented their products and activities, we talked to the company’s director, Ms. Melita Žiher. She highlighted the advantages of the new SmartHouse line and the new wood processing plant.
Ms. Žiher, why did you decide to manufacture a new line of houses? What are their advantages?
We recently launched a new line of so-called modular SmartHouse, which consists of smaller houses. The advantage of their modular construction is their affordability, without sacrificing the quality and robustness of prefabricated construction. The key competitive advantage in the market is the fast production of the house in the factory and its assembly on the site. For these houses, we do not make changes to suit the taste and needs of the customer during the design and construction, as we can do with the first, basic line of houses. They are sold exactly as they are. Their main feature is that they are smaller, more suitable for smaller families, older couples, holiday homes, etc. They are designed in such a way that the space in the house is used very optimally. We offer several models or size variations, ranging from approximately 30 to over 100 square meters of living space. They can be single-story or one-and-a-half-story. We have been working enthusiastically on this line for the last two years, and it has proven to be a great sales success.
How much do your SmartHouse houses cost, and how soon can customers move into them?
After being rapidly manufactured in the production hall, the SmartHouse is completed on-site in about one and a half months. We can also take care of project documentation, building permits, and foundations in the company, by agreement. The start of construction also depends on the time it takes to obtain a building permit from the administrative units (AU). Sometimes, things may get delayed at the AU. Therefore, we start the construction of the house in our production halls as soon as the customer submits the documentation to the AU so that the structural elements of the house are prepared for installation on-site when the building permit is received. Prices range from 55,990 euros with VAT to 172,990 euros with VAT. We offer six SmartHouse models: XS, S, M, M two-pitched roof, L, and XL.
Do you have a special autumn promotion at the moment? What is it about?
Yes, we have a special autumn promotion that runs until the end of October. During this promotion, customers of all SmartHouse models, except the SmartHouse XS model, receive a free heat pump.
What, in general, distinguishes Žiher houses?
We all know that a house is a lifelong project in which people invest all their savings. It is a very important and sensitive area, which guided us in establishing the Žiher brand and all the other segments that belong to it: production, a sample studio in Ljubljana, fieldwork, etc. Our prefabricated houses are precisely manufactured in a new production hall with the latest technology. The quality of the materials used is high, our employees are highly skilled, we offer an individual approach, Žiher houses are energy-efficient, we build them quickly, provide exceptional living comfort, and they are also earthquake and fire-safe.
Another novelty in your company is your own wood processing centre…
Yes, at Žiher, we are currently investing heavily in our own wood processing center in Ormož. Production and assembly of houses increase every year, and due to the growing demand for Žiher prefabricated houses, the investment in this timber processing center is the next necessary step in the company’s development. With a submission for obtaining a subsidy from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, we received the green light for the realisation of the investment in the call for the promotion of further wood processing for a faster transition to a climate-neutral society. By establishing the wood processing center, the company will contribute to increasing self-sufficiency, becoming less dependent on external suppliers, price fluctuations of raw materials, and will enable the delivery of high-quality products, which are in high demand. Raw material prices and consequently the prices of glued beams fluctuate significantly, delivery times are extended, which significantly hinders the production process and the delivery of houses within the optimal time frame. By establishing the wood processing center, the company will increase the number of newly employed people, market share, and contribute to better economic conditions in Podravje and the wider area, as well as introducing new modern and innovative technologies. Having our own processing plant will increase the added value of wood processing and significantly contribute to the development of the local wood industry. The company will not only ensure a stable supply of raw materials, independence from price fluctuations, long waiting times, but also a reduction in costs, increased production, better accessibility of materials needed for house production, production optimisation, increased profit, further growth and development of the company. This will also contribute to reducing environmental pollution. We will be the only provider in Slovenia to manufacture houses entirely from Slovenian wood. With this approach, we become more affordable and cater to new customers who urgently need a house due to the economic situation and the recent natural disaster. I would like to emphasise that, despite the competitive market price, we have approved an additional 10% discount on the first construction phase for all buyers of our houses.
After the floods, when many people were left without a roof over their heads, is there an increased demand for your houses?
Several agreements are in progress with the state, and during this time, even though we have a fully occupied production, we will prioritise some houses for those who urgently need them.
Do you sell Žiher houses abroad?
We are present in Austria, Germany, and Croatia.
One of your advantages is the built-in solar power plants with storage or self-sufficiency with electricity.
We can install 7 kWh solar power plants with a 5 kWh inverter and storage in all our houses as standard, unless the customer expresses otherwise, which is rare. The advantage is the storage, a battery in which excess generated electricity is stored. We no longer send it to the public system because it has proven to be a big problem and because the networks are overloaded. Houses equipped in this way are self-sufficient in electricity, which is particularly evident in the event of a power outage and is reflected in significantly lower monthly bills.
How many employees do you need in the company to keep everything running as it should?
At the moment, we employ 100 people, including architects, civil engineers, wood technologists, and others. We develop plans for houses, material designs, constructions, etc. ourselves. All the details need to be thoroughly examined, thoughtfully designed, and precisely executed. For example, potential buyers can visit a model SmartHouse – a showcase house in the vicinity of our production facility near Ormož to see how optimally designed it is and what quality of living it offers. I invite all interested parties to contact us for a tour!