The Romanian who moves out the French in timber frame houses made in Bacau

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The Romanian who moves out the French in timber frame houses made in Bacau

Costi Zarnescu has been building timber frame houses since 2005, and selling them to France. Since 2010 he concentrates however on the company he runs in Bacau, Romania.

In France, timber frame houses are very wanted and sought-after, fashionable so to speak, and even the state encourages this type of construction by giving low interest credits for energy efficient homes”, says the businessman from Bacau, Costi Zarnescu.

He entered the timber frame homes business almost nine years ago, while he sold hundreds of houses to French clients. In 2010 he started his own company in Romania, in Bacau, and he tries to make EcoKit a success on a more reluctant market than the one on France. We may say he made it, since after a 200.000 euro investment in machines, software and employees formation, he raised up a company with almost 1.8 million euros turnover by the end of 2013. France remained, however, the main market. “There is first of all EcoKit France (editor’s note – the company in which EcoKit Romania is a major shareholder), in Montelimar, between Lyon and Marseille. The company has now signed contracts with 27 collaborators and covers about 60% of France’s territory”, explains Zarnescu.

He has built and sold until now “several hundred homes”, out of which only 97 in Romania. He is satisfied, however, with the results obtained in Romania, where he has partners in Bacau and Bucharest, given the much more difficult conditions compared to France. In fact, Romania constitutes his main target. “Our main goal is to even up the internal and the external market, which means to increase the number of Romanian clients up to the level of those in France. For this, we do our best and we hope to achieve this goal within 2 or 3 years”, continues the businessman.

Preconceptions, reluctance and ignorance

He admits, however, that it won’t be easy to make it in Romania, given the special situation here. “Unfortunately, there are many preconceptions, reluctance and ignorance in Romania, people do not make the distinction between state-of-the-art timber frame house and a chalet, they are convinced that a wooden house must be cheaper than a traditional one, or in reality things are not like this. A timber frame complying with all standards has the same price with a traditional one”, says Zarnescu. Where is then the benefit, if it not the price? The greatest advantage, and the reason these houses are so popular in France, is the high energy efficiency. Extremely relevant for this, says the businessman, is an analysis conducted by a specialized company in France. According to this analysis, a timber frame house has a four times lower gas and power consumption than a concrete house. Nevertheless, this quality is not at all made known to the public in Romania, this being one of the builder’s deepest regrets. “There is also the low purchasing power, as well as the lack of support in promoting energetically performant products. One thing to support the development of this market would be a special association of concerned builders and sustaining and imposing a quality standard as reference for this kind of constructions”, says Zarnescu. He considers that Romanian market is still a “mix between honest manufacturers and little craftsmen building to amateur standards”. The businessman found a partner where people expected the least, in the banking field. “We signed an important partnership with Romanian Commercial Bank, by which we sell our products in progress payment within MY HOUSE program. It is a partnership we pin our hopes in, as it offers advantageous conditions to the customers”, shows the builder.

 

Article published in CAPITAL newspaper, on January 21st 2014, by Serban Buscu.

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