Cairns cyclone-proofing company booms
A SMALL home and commercial building company born out of cyclone Yasi is moving its headquarters from Mission Beach to Cairns after demand for its cyclone-rated and flood-proofed buildings tripled in less than a year.
MiHaven, which is headed by James and Sarah Mort, is renovating former medical suites at the Cairns Plaza Hotel in Abbott St.
Staffing has grown from three to five in the head office and there are six key staff in the construction arm.
The company specialises in simple steel-framed cyclone-rated and flood-proofed buildings that can take just eight weeks to build with all materials down to screws and nails packed in a standard container.
Mrs Mort said the business took off after they won a $5000 business innovation award at the 2011 Tropical Innovation Awards in August.
"I didn't realise how significant the award was. It really opened new doors for us, including government training," she said.
"We had nine contracts secured within six months."
Their showcase prototype property is a two-bedroom house at Billabong Bed and Breakfast at Holloways Beach.
Normally their houses are raised off the ground but the one at Caribbean St at Holloways Beach sits on a concrete slab for easier disabled access.
The two-bedroom house includes a bathroom with wheelchair access, a kitchen and living area as well as a veranda overlooking a large lake.
Mrs Mort said two men built the home in eight weeks.
It features high set ceilings, LED lighting, cross ventilation and aluminium louvres. The 65sq m home is ideal for B&Bs, a caretaker's house or a granny flat. With airconditioning it cost $195,000 but with full furniture and furnishings it was $209,000.
Mr Mort said the Billabong house was used as a model and they had fine-tuned aspects of the design and construction.
"All the materials were packed into a container and brought on to the site," he said.
He said a special chassis winching system was designed to slide the materials in and out of the container which was locked after hours.
Mr Mort said the great advantage was being able to send the containers to remote communities.
MiHaven has just completed the $200,000 Babinda community centre and is working on a men's shed on Queensland Country Women's Association land at Tully.
The job also includes renovating the QCWA hall and the company is building a tennis pavilion at Mission Beach.
"Our core business values are to establish a sustainable business aligned to social enterprise delivering quality housing for remote communities and positive long-term employment outcomes for indigenous Australians," he said.
Mr Mort said he wanted to help train indigenous people, provide housing in remote communities and ongoing work for residents in repairs and maintenance.
He said MiHaven was sending 10 containers to Thursday Island to build five $280,000 two- bedroom homes with additional marine grade steel.
The Morts are building their own home on a block of land at Parramatta Park as part of their move to Cairns and they are spending $60,000 renovating the medical suites.
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Expanding: MiHaven homes directors of James and Sarah Mort in one of their cyclone-rated houses. Picture: ANNA ROGERS