The importance of a high performance home

Alongside the responsibilities of being a registered Master Builder we care deeply about bringing high performance homes to more New Zealanders. Building a high quality, well designed home is a common requirement that you should come to expect from any reputable builder that carries the Master Builder certification. 


At Build7 we like to think of a high performance home going a further step beyond that. Something that serves you and your family, long after our tools and trade staff have left the site and we have handed you the keys. It would be simple for us to think that our job is done there. If you were to consider it like a well-trained athlete, or a well-serviced vehicle; you should be confident in it going the distance, performing to a high standard, by what care you put in from the start.

New Zealand has not historically been renowned for embracing high energy efficiency standards like you may find such as Scandinavian countries. Looking back a generation or so, it is easy to realise many of the existing homes New Zealanders live in are not fit for one’s health and wellbeing; especially when viewed over the long term. While government incentives have encouraged the retrofitting of older homes, it is only taking the performance of these homes to a certain minimum standard.

Looking at new builds, performance is measured by a nationwide building code that has evolved over years through such issues as land stability, weather tightness, natural hazards, and general health and wellbeing. The important point to note is that this has made homes for kiwis much safer, warmer and higher performing from where they once were.

However, these standards are set to a minimum required level. While some factors are taken into account such as the region you live (e.g. Northland versus the Queenstown Lakes District), it can still mean excess cost to heat or cool a home.

 

To gain a bit more of an understanding we sat down with Nick from our Build7 North Canterbury region for a quick few questions. Nick and his wife Sarah were originally customers of Build7 and enjoyed the process so much they decided they want to help more people experience all the benefits they had.


What is a high performance home?
 

It is a site specific, custom designed, functional and comfortable home that utilizes the sites environmental aspects to its advantage, that is cost effective and available to more new home owners. 

 

Why is it important?  

With the quality of older NZ homes diminishing and homes that forget about the basics and are cold and damp, properly designed homes are more important than ever. 

 

What kind of steps should you be aware of from the outset?  

That there is a lot of back and forth in the design process. It’s important to understand that the finer details need thought and a bit of help from the people who know homes.

 

When is the ideal time people should start thinking about this?

There is no better time than the present! Take time to understand what you like, and don’t like about your current home, and apply these to your next build! Requesting its considerations within Build7’s complimentary design brief is a super important tip.

 

Where can I get a better understanding of its importance?  

Talk to one of your local, high performance home builders to get more of an idea of these sort of homes. Build7 has local experts up and down the country that can guide you with this so this is a good place to start – CLICK HERE for your local team.

 

Some simple tips if these are new waters you are treading

1. Keep it simple!
Shape, size and orientation of a home can do so much. But it is a crucial one to get right, as you unfortunately cannot pick up your house and move it once the foundations are down! Think about where you would want to spend most of your day time hours, and sleeping hours. Where you would like shade, and where you would like sun is a great place to start!

2. Think about harnessing free energy! No, this is not a joke. That big fusion reactor in the sky should be used to its full potential, we can reliably say it shouldn’t be running out any time soon! This can be in the form of placement and size of windows or it may be investing in such things as solar power. The best thing about solar power is it is getting cheaper and can either reduce your energy bills, or may even pay you back from the grid! In addition, you can use it to heat water which is an ideal energy storage option.

3. Thermal Breaks Vs Thermal Bridges We love the former, we don’t like the latter! Thankfully energy efficiency requirements have been revised in New Zealand. This relates to the way heat transfers into and out of the building envelope. It is a big one that is super important and requires professional input. Thermal bridges are like what we drive on, the more you have, the more inside air can escape and the outside air can get in. Thermal breaks by comparison make high technology and passive homes perform so well they can reduce costs by considerable margins for heating and cooling.

4. Insulation New Zealand has a pretty poor track record, our building code is quite relaxed when it comes to this and it is a reason why many people in New Zealand still get sick from it being at a substandard level. We offer the ability to increase the framing timber from 90ml to 140ml providing adequate space for superior insulation levels. Speaking to our Construction Manager is an important step if you wish to know more on what can be achieved, with some processes allowing cost savings, while giving you a higher return.

5. Windows and doors are super important. You can’t have a house without them! But they also should be considered for how they perform in a different context, so you do not lose all those gains. A variety of glazing options exist to really enhance performance while maintaining their sophisticated and stylish look.

6. Dealing with waste! According to BRANZ, the construction and demolition industry is one of the largest waste producing industries in New Zealand. Accounting for possibly up to 50% of all waste in New Zealand. Our project management team are well aware of the impact waste has, and on clients budgets. To mitigate this we record the waste and are actively working towards reducing wastage further on site. We also can take into account supplied material sizes in the design phase of rooms within the house.

Book in a complimentary consultation with us today to discuss how we can incorporate some of these high performance technologies into your home!

Build7 is a certified member of Passive House Institute New Zealand.