Mt Pleasant 1

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A cosy comfortable home - what more could anyone want? And thanks to Beacon Pathway’s Build Back Smarter trial, the Mt Pleasant home of Peter and Debbie has been transformed from a draughty 1918 villa to a warm oasis.

Ironically they bought their hillside bungalow between the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes and the house suffered significant damage to its foundations and interior. Build Back Smarter trialled upgrading home performance during earthquake repairs.

Peter and Debbie now have an efficient heat transfer system to take the heat from the living area to the southern side of the house; wall, ceiling and floor insulation including a vapour barrier; downlights replaced with LED lighting, an extract fan was installed in the bathroom and ensuite and timers added to the heated towel rails.

The difference to their home has been significant, says Peter.

“We come home and the house is warm. Even the rooms at the back of the house are as toasty as the living room.“

To add to the warmth and energy efficiency of their home, Peter and Debbie paid for new double glazed uPVC windows for the whole house, the front of their home with its panoramic views from the ocean, over the city to the mountains, and a freestanding woodburner to replace the living flame gas heater that was seldom used due to its high running cost. Debbie had new curtains made and installed for the whole house but we never need to draw the curtains as the double glazing is so efficient.

Even with the cooler months they find they don’t have to get the woodburner or heat pump up and running until 8pm, saving significantly on their power bills and the cost of fire wood.

Peter’s office is on the southern side of the house and, being an asthmatic, he found the cold space affected his health. With heat transferred from the living area, he says his office is now as “toasty” as the rest of the home.

The wood burner does more than take the chill off but also has the added bonus for the couple is that they can also cook on it.

“So if we do lose power at any stage we still have heat and we can eat,“ says Debbie.

The wall, ceiling and floor insulation combined with the large double glazed windows at the front of the house has totally changed the feel of their home.

“The house feels more peaceful and you can feel the warmth as soon as you walk in the door. Everyone should be thinking of upgrading their homes when they’re having their earthquake repairs done - it just makes sense and we are very grateful to have taken part in this trial for Build Back Smarter,“ says Peter.


Earthquake damage

The house suffered from significant damage to foundations from the earthquakes, made more complex by the two different foundation types.  Ground movement caused uneven settlement of ring foundation and piles of the older part of the home, and voids formed beneath the 32m2 concrete slab to part of the extension.  Damage also included damage to the roof cladding, window joinery, exterior paintwork, entry floor tiles, tongue and groove flooring finish, retaining walls, fencing and driveway.  Most interior lath and plaster ceiling and wall linings were badly cracked.   

In terms of the scope of the earthquake repairs:

  • Repair of the foundations by packing and replacing floor piles, grout pumping into the voids beneath the concrete slab, epoxy injections into the cracks in the ring foundation.
  • Replacement of the roof
  • Most lath and plaster ceiling linings were replaced throughout
  • Most lath and plaster wall linings replaced throughout
  • Internal doors were eased and adjusted throughout


The upgrades

Pre-upgrade condition


  • Thin macerated ceiling insulation in older part of house (70%) and thin fibreglass batts in extension/skillion ceiling
  • R3.2 ceiling insulation installed over existing insulation.
  • R1.8 ceiling insulation installed in skillion sloping ceiling
  • No wall insulation or building wrap in older part of the house
  •  R 2.8 Wall insulation installed in older part of house with building wrap segments inserted between the frames 
  • No underfloor insulation or vapour barrier under low suspended floor in older part of house.
  • R1.6 underfloor insulation installed under suspended floor where access available.
  • Insufficient access for vapour barrier
  • Draughty external doors
  •  Replacement of external doors with double glazed u-PVC doors. 
  • Very large area of western facing glass- draughty windows, and single glazing, insufficient curtains
  •  New double glazed uPVC windows 
  • Living flame gas effect heater in living room - not used due to high running cost.
  • Portable electric heaters used in bedrooms.
  • Gas heater removed.  Freestanding 15.7 kW woodburner installed
  • Heat transfer system installed to take heat from living room to two bedrooms. 
  • 33 downlights - a mix of halogen and incandescent bulbs throughout.  Ceiling insulation covering the downlights (macerated paper and fibreglass)
  •  Replacement with LED/ IC rated downlights.  
  • Ineffective bathroom extract fan in main bathroom - ducted to ceiling.
  • No kitchen rangehood, stove located under a window.
  • New bathroom extract installed with external ducting
  • Bench level extractor fan repaired
  • Two high flow showerheads.
  • High flow kitchen and bathroom taps.
  • Good opportunity for rainwater tank installation.
  • New lowflow tapware installed by homeowner.
  • Low flow showerheads installed.
  • 1000 litre rainwater tank installed.
  • Two heated towel rails - on all the time
  • Timers installed on heated towel rails 


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Mt Pleasant 1


Mt Pleasant homeowners


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The upgrades took Mt Pleasant 1 from 2 stars to 5 stars.

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Living in Christchurch?

Make the most of the new Build Back Smarter Service

Christchurch   City Council has launched a free service for Christchurch people   rebuilding or repairing their earthquake-damaged homes to provide   advice about insulation,  heating methods and energy saving measures   such as double glazing,  ventilation and lighting.

Homeowners   can contact one of the service’s assessment providers who will prepare a   healthy home improvement plan tailored to the needs and budget of the   home owner.