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Setting the standards in luxury wooden housing

Interview - November 17, 2020

Our core belief is to promote safe and secure wooden structures through a system that provides housing with asset value. NCN’s innovation is providing people with a safe, natural, and harmonious living environment. Based on the ideal home construction we will always faithfully meet the needs of customers. We will continue to conduct research and development daily, focusing on improving our technology and quality to be utilized in the market. 


What gives Japan an advantage in building wooden structures?

The Japanese have always had a predilection for this type of construction. The market for prefabricated houses is emerging but as of today they only represent 10% of the entire housing market. Additionally, with the fact that around 100 million trees are planted every year, the government is highly motivated to utilize this surplus of wood, which benefits us greatly.


What determines the ideal type of wood to be used during construction?

The most suitable material for a building depends on location and the environment. The architectural market stands out for always seeking the finest and most sustainable material in the region at the lowest possible expense. This is the driving factor in working with our material suppliers in the Nordic region.


When it comes to the lack of regulations regarding domestic wooden buildings, how does this affect the housing industry?

The main reason behind the lack of regulations for houses is because it would increase the cost of houses. Our first step was to bring together individuals who shared our aspirations and who faithfully believed in the need to change this law. Since the beginning of my career 24 years ago I have sought to shape an earthquake-proof society and globally promoting this earthquake-proof technology. Old properties here, unlike in the US, have short life cycles and they have an alarmingly low resale price.


What will be the life cycle of these houses and the technology used?

In comparison to prefabricated houses which have a weak and low durability, we estimate that our constructions preserve for at least 100 years, which signifies a much longer life cycle. We aim to transform Japanese architectural standards and shift it into a system similar to that of the United States.


What is your ideal strategy to improve the housing industry situation?

The first key element is data records. NCN, for the past 20 years, has supplied over 24,000 houses’ structural calculation records and maintain them. The second key element is to ensure the duration of properties by promoting a technology that shows resistance and durability of materials utilized in structures. Design is the third key point. Each year, new trends are born, and we are constantly researching designs to stay relevant. MUJI HOUSE, in collaboration with NCN, creates homes based on standards and not what is trending. These key elements are possible with the insured CAD/CAM system, which covers the planning and design, structural design, and inspections.


Do you use your system in your overseas operations?

What we have implemented overseas so far is the Building Information Modeling (BIM) by one of our subsidiaries, Makehouse. Using our CAD/CAM system, we create the structural design elements, extract the wooden framework, and then provide the resulting structural calculations.  This technology has been evaluated and certified in the US, Europe, China, and South Korea.


Is there any overseas technology that you draw inspiration from?

In Europe, they have developed a new kind of material called Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) which we are working to implement in future projects. Currently, we are working with a factory in Japan specializing in CLT. We are looking forward to developing the architectural technology to incorporate CLT in upcoming projects.


What does NCN stand for?

NCN stands for New Constructors Network. It represents our desire to work with new constructors those who share the same vision as us.


Although the housing industry in Japan is shrinking, the global housing market is expected to grow. How do you plan to take advantage of that expected growth?

Structural calculations are crucial when building wooden buildings. Even though the law now states the obligation to provide them, there is a lack of expertise in that field. We fill this gap by providing structural calculations for our clients. We also provide our customers with energy-efficiency calculations using our in-house CAD/CAM system. Each year we provide energy-efficiency calculations to 3,500 properties in Japan.


How would you apply NCN’s technology to other houses?

Due to providing structural calculations data, we are seeing growth in the purchase of the homes that have data and information collected rather than houses without such data. Unfortunately, however, the recent emergent gap between the population income inequality has made it difficult for many to implement structural calculations to their new houses.  If we were able to promote our “SE structure” system not only to high-end properties but to varieties of properties, our SE structure will become the de-facto standard. 


By when do you plan to make this a reality?

Within the next 10 years.


How much does a typical NCN house cost?

Forty million yen, which would be around 400.000 USD.


You have reached 6.6 billion yen in sales. What is your plan to continue this growth?

Before the pandemic started, we went through a rough time. We encountered an obstacle in expanding our constructor network to promote our mission.  This year, we plan to increase our partner network by 50 companies.


Are you looking to find new partners or join the development of technology regarding housing?

Recently we got a new partner in Thailand, to whom we showed through 3D images the importance of structural calculations if an earthquake were to occur. With our systems, a world of opportunities overseas opens up for us.


If I were an investor, what are the top three competitive advantages of NCN?

In the first place, the amount of foundational research done regarding materials spanning the last 20 years is a powerful asset. Secondly, the data amassed through field experience. Lastly, our staff. We have a team specialized in making these projects happen.


If we were to come in ten years and interview you again, what would you tell us?

It's very simple, my mission will be accomplished if the houses built today have increased in value over the ten years timespan.