Constant creation

Schafferer Holzbau has been working with wood for almost 60 years. More recently, the company decided to specialise in prefabrication — in part, thanks to inspiration from abroad.

Southern Germany, German-speaking Switzerland and the west of Austria — these regions share much in common. Especially linguistically. And in these areas, instead of using the German word “Arbeit” for work, people often use the verb “schaffen”, which also means “to create”. A saying that is predominantly heard in the area of Austria to the west of the Brenner Pass is “Schaffa, schaffa, Hüsle baua” (“work, work, build houses”). 

It also applies to the Schafferers. Although the Tyrolean dialect is largely spoken here (rather than the west Austrian Vorarlberg dialect from which the saying originates), the themes of work and building houses have been cornerstones of the Schafferer family business since 1958 — at their base in Navis they have been working with wood for almost 60 years. Originally founded as carpentry firm, their company has recently ventured into prefabrication for single-family homes as well as large projects. 

In part, this is due to Karl Schafferer, who took over the management of the company, which today has around 50 employees, in 1988. He also found his way towards wood construction while travelling. “Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of the world. Particularly in North America, I’ve often thought that wood is processed using rather primitive tools,” he recalls. He came to the conclusion that wood construction should be further accelerated in Austria. And with higher quality standards. From the beginning, he always worked with architects, which led to the company receiving large orders from the local area, including kindergartens, event centres, single-family homes, residential complexes and even wooden bridges. Indeed, when it comes to “schaffen”, the Schafferers are doing rather well. 

A special project for the family business is the construction of the Bildungshaus St. Michael education centre just a short distance from the company’s headquarters in Pfons. “My grandfather was a janitor in the facility and had an apartment there. I also lived there and spent a lot of time there as a child. The project is therefore very close to my heart.” However, the building is also of interest from a structural perspective. “The scale and the mix of accommodation and event space make the project exciting.” 

In the course of running his business, Schafferer has noticed that an increasing demand for wood construction as a direct result of the growing interest in Passive House standards. “Wood construction is ideally suited to Passive Houses and is certainly better than any masonry construction, in particular because there is greater expertise in wood construction.” 

Whereby the issue of sustainability is, for Schafferer, very much a double-edged sword. “The term is used too often in my view. Many people should look it up in the dictionary before labelling something as sustainable. At any rate, true sustainability is very important to us — indeed, the term originally comes from the forestry sector.” 

The company Schafferer works on a large number of sustainable building projects each year. All-in-one solutions are also offered, including turnkey single-family houses on request. And there is no shortage of orders. “We are seeing more and more people relying on wood construction.” So there will still be a lot of work to do here in Navis. “Schaffa, schaffa, Hüsle baua” indeed (only translated into Tyrolean)! 

You can read the whole interview in "The Isoceller"