Does your home need a health check?

Your home should not just be a warm and comfortable place to live, but use resources efficiently, be a healthy environment and not cost you the earth to run – makes sense really! How does your house rate? One quick quiz that you can take is a free online assessment at http://www.homestar.org.nz allowing owners to assess their home’s performance in comfort, health and energy-efficiency.  

It was established by BRANZ, Beacon Pathway and the New Zealand Green Building Council with the support of the building industry and key Government agencies to improve the housing quality in NZ, and they hope to include it as a requirement when selling a house. The assessment includes insulation, heating, water use, waste, ventilation and indoor air quality, among other things, and calculates a value rating, from one to ten stars, based on these factors.

My few reservations about the scheme is that it aims at a defined ideal. It’s near impossible to score a perfect 10 with many existing houses lucky to score a 2 or 3 (unless its a bespoke building aiming squarely at being energy neutral, producing all its own energy, in the middle of the community, 10 mins walk from shops, on transport routes, where the council accepts grey water dispersal on site, full of native trees – oh and space for a vege garden – close to impossible on a lot of sites in Auckland and on most budgets…).

But essentially the basic principles and hopes/ambitions are correct – these ratings cover the A,B,C healthy building blocks of homes by Architects who understand the essence of sustainable design. I can see they could be beneficial in being a motivating factor for many cheaper developer driven projects to up their game if they want to get rated to improve house saleability. For the home owner its a good reminder to see what can be done in your next alteration or house build to make your home a better environment and save you money in the long run – just get a decent architect on board to detail the building, insulation and solar orientation principles correctly, and dont squash your Pink Batts into the wall when DIYing! If you are on a shoestring budget, you can check out Donnell and Day’s guide to building green on a budget here .  

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Oh yes – our budget driven ‘house in progress’ scores a 6 at the moment – at least that is until we get around to replacing the antiquated freezer, making some decent curtains, installing the second water tank, planting the rest of the native trees, producing our own electricity etc etc…..

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