With construction costs on the rise, the need to minimise avoidable costs elsewhere in the home-building process is even more important. One of the most common pitfalls we see from people investing in new build homes is runaway design costs, which result from designs that must be revised or even completely redrawn because crucial input wasn’t sought early enough.
Currently, construction is going to cost more than usual, so it’s important to get your design right straight away. This is what the Shoebox Model has been developed to address. Created by Sustainable Engineering Ltd, the Shoebox Model is a great way to make Passive House principles a part of the conversation at just the right time.
Learn more about the Shoebox Model and how it can benefit your Passive House design below.
More and more New Zealanders are recognising the benefits of sustainable houses. That means the design elements that make them so effective are becoming more popular as well.
One such design element is SIPs, an innovative way to build the floor, roof, and walls of a home in a way that minimises both labour costs and build times and maximises energy efficiency. To learn more about SIPs and how they can be used as a vital element within a high-performance home, read on.
What are SIPs?
SIPs, or Structural Insulated Panels, are high-performance, thermally efficient composite panels, in which an insulating layer of polystyrene is sandwiched between two layers of structural strand board. This alternative build material offers a new way to construct the building envelope—walls, roof, and floors—for residential and commercial buildings.
Our SIPs are made and cut by Formance in Christchurch, and Craft Homes is one of only four preferred installers in Auckland.
New Zealand’s Healthy Homes standards are primarily concerned with insulation rather than ventilation, requiring insulation in the floor and ceiling along with at least one heating source in the house. However, insulation alone won’t solve all of a home’s problems. In fact, just increasing the insulation can sometimes do more harm than good.
Additional insulation reduces the amount of heat escaping, but this escaping heat can also help to dry out the walls, floor, and roof of the building. That means that adding insulation, while making it slightly less cold inside, can increase the internal moisture levels by inhibiting the building’s capacity to dry itself out. This can lead to an unhealthy and uncomfortable living environment, which is why an effective, efficient ventilation system is vital to maintaining good air quality and moisture levels in your home.
A holistic approach is necessary when you’re looking to upgrade or improve the health of your home; no single element can ensure optimal performance by itself. If you only have the budget for one substantive renovation, however, an effective ventilation system will likely have a bigger overall impact on your home becoming healthier, warmer, dryer, and more comfortable.
Passive home in Wanaka, photo by Simon Devitt – PHINZ brochure 2017
Sustainability and energy efficiency have largely driven the conversation surrounding passive homes in New Zealand, and for good reason. Certainly, passive house are not just worth the investment, but also vital to New Zealand’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, the benefits of passive homes don’t stop at helping to beat climate change. They also offer significant benefits to your personal wellbeing!
With a passive house, you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort to further the cause of sustainability. That’s because passive homes achieve high levels of operational efficiency as well as offering you an exceptional level of comfort and a healthy living environment. Building using the Passive House standard means that you can choose health and comfort whilst maintaining world leading quality. Learn more about these personal benefits below.
Climate change continues to be one of the greatest challenges facing Aotearoa and the rest of the world in the 21st Century. New Zealand has committed to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and that means fundamental changes, not just to the homes we build but also how we build them.
As we’ve written before, New Zealand has been slow to push for better-performing buildings, although companies like Craft Homes are making a difference one home at a time through innovative design, sustainable building practices, and public advocacy. Fortunately, more ambitious goals from the government, along with a wealth of new policy proposals, suggest change may be on the horizon!
The Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has recently unveiled Building for Climate Change, a programme intended to reduce “emissions from buildings during their construction and operation, while also preparing buildings to withstand changes in the climate.”
This programme is very important because it recognises and addresses the role that construction practices and design principles play in the carbon emissions of New Zealand’s built environment. These policies target many of the largest barriers to more sustainable homes that New Zealand faces, and the construction industry will play a crucial role in their success. That’s where net-zero buildings enter the frame!
When we talk about the challenges facing the New Zealand housing sector, we often overlook a very important issue; New Zealand homes are too cold, too damp, and too inefficient, and these problems are impacting our health. At Craft Homes, we’re passionate about sustainable building and understand the impact that your home environment can have on your wellbeing. Continue reading to learn more about the relationship between your home and your health, why New Zealand is falling behind, and what we can do to catch up.
The problem with New Zealand homes
Over 75% of New Zealand’s homes were built before the New Zealand Building Code was updated in 1978 to require minimal insulation, but the problem didn’t end when these regulations went into effect. Even many homes built after the introduction of these insulation requirements are losing heat and retaining moisture. Why? Because builders aren’t aiming high enough when it comes to energy-efficient design and build quality. New Zealand’s building codes are effectively a baseline for the worst home you can legally build. Unfortunately, New Zealand builders don’t see enough incentive to exceed these low expectations.
The result? The quality of New Zealand homes is decades behind other OECD countries. We’re treating the bare minimum as our goal when it comes to housing quality, and that poses significant problems for our health.
Our Journey to Living Off-Grid & Constructing a High-Performance Home
Here at Craft Homes, we’re proud advocates of sustainable building in New Zealand. This is evident not just in the projects we've completed for Kiwi families around the country, but also in the homes we build for our very own. In fact, we have exciting news on that front!
After we, Toby & Cat Tilsley, purchased our dream 15 acres of land in Te Mata just out of Raglan around the middle of last year, we’re thrilled to share our plan and journey in building an off-grid, high-performance home!
At the time of writing, we’ve submitted plans to council and hope to start building in April 2021. We are going to live in the home, but also plan to use it as a Show Home for high-performance homes in the area. We hope to inspire people with our sustainable, off-grid lifestyle and help others witness the clear benefits of this type of build, so they too can find ways to achieve the same.
Below, we lay out what living off-grid entails, what high-performance home are, and how we plan to achieve both. If you want to witness this exciting journey from the very beginning, read on!
Prefabricated builds offer a raft of benefits when it comes to both sustainable construction and time and cost savings. There is a common misconception, however, that prefab construction results in boxy, uniform houses, but this is not the case. As home builders in New Zealand, we have used prefab components in a number of projects and want to share their benefits to both you and the environment! Keep reading to find out what these are and learn more about the prefab building process.
What is prefabrication in construction?
Prefabrication, usually shortened to “prefab”, refers to the process of manufacturing parts of a building off-site, usually in a factory. These are then delivered to the building site, either complete or ready to assemble.
Prefab homes may be gaining popularity now, but they have been used in New Zealand for many generations. Maori bundled raupō (bullrush) in advance for use in their whare (houses). Early European settlers shipped parts of prefabricated buildings from overseas.
Here at Craft Homes, we do our best to stay up to date in sustainability practices not just within the eco homes and building industries, but on a national—and often even on global—scale. Currently, there are a number of promising nationwide initiatives being implemented across the board to promote a healthier, more sustainable New Zealand, from new freshwater regulations, the proposed phase-out of single-use plastics, and the Jobs for Nature programme.
One enormous government initiative that particularly caught our eye is the One Billion Trees programme, with an ambitious goal of planting 1,000,000,000 trees across the country by 2028 through government funding and grants. Yes, you counted right, that’s nine zeros!
How does the government plan to achieve this lofty goal and how will this positively affect our country’s sustainability efforts? Read on to find out!
Craft Homes is happy to announce the Superhome Movement’s release of the Healthy Home Design Guide. The Superhome Movement is a not-for-profit organisation that has facilitated the development of this guide, working with 70 industry-leading professionals on a volunteer basis to improve New Zealand’s housing quality.
Launched in November and still at its first official iteration as a live document, this guide serves not as a home rating tool, but as a guide for designers, architects, builders, and other industry participants. The aim of this guide is to:
Toby and Cat Tilsley