Spreydon 1

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When Chantal and Gregor walked back into their family home after their earthquake repairs they couldn’t believe the transformation. Not only had they included extensions in their cramped home but they also took part in Beacon Pathway’s Build Back Smarter trial to create a warmer, drier home.

Chantal describes the family home pre-earthquake as an ice box, only made worse by damage to the interior and liquefaction outside.

“I don’t like the cold, I’m a warm person and our heat pumps and old wood burner weren’t enough to heat our home. We used to be bundled up in so many clothes.“

Built in the 1930’s, their three-bedroom home had no insulation. Through Build Back Smarter, they received wall, ceiling and under floor insulation, including a vapour barrier, a heat transfer system, moved the hallway heat pump into their front bedroom, an extractor fan in the bathroom along with a 1000 litre rainwater tank.

“We are very grateful to be part of the Build Back Smarter trial. We have kept the bones of our old house with the wood paneling but it is modernised and more energy efficient,“ says Gregor.

In addition to the Build Back Smarter upgrades, Chantal and Gregor also installed double glazed windows in the conservatory, bought a new hot water cylinder with wetback, a new low emission freestanding wood burner, removed the chimney, used thermal curtains and installed both an externally vented range hood and a dual flush toilet.

During the earthquake repairs they also extended their front bedroom and opened up their kitchen and conservatory area.

With a drier home, the couple have noticed that old colder days they now set their heat pump at a much lower temperature, the house heats more quickly and stays warm for longer, saving in electricity costs.

The new water tank is used to water the gardens using run-off from the roof and also is the added bonus of being a water supply “if we ever don’t have water again”.

It was their Hawkins project manager that suggested they take part in Build Back Smarter after the February earthquakes not only resulted in a significantly damaged house but also both Gregor and Chantal lost their jobs.

“It was a terrible time and he obviously felt sorry for us.“ To make the Build Back Smarter upgrades as seamless as possible Beacon Pathway’s Bill King was project manager and helped the Healys to make some minor changes to improve their home’s heating.

“Bill suggested moving the heat pump. He explains things very well and knew what he was talking about and related it to our situation,“ says Gregor.

“We feel very fortunate. This is our home. We have been here for 35 years and brought up our children here. It’s now a lovely space to come home to.“



Earthquake damage

The house suffered from significant damage to foundations from the earthquakes.  Ground movement caused uneven settlement of ring foundation and piles, and damage to sewer and stormwater drains.   Foundation repairs required the house to be jacked up, providing the opportunity to add underfloor insulation and a ground floor barrier.

Most interior lath and plaster ceiling and wall linings were badly cracked, opening the way for full wall insulation of the home.   Repairs to the foundation required the removal of the internal brick chimney with the opportunity to install more efficient heating.

In terms of the scope of the earthquake repairs:

  • The house was jacked up and the concrete ring foundation replaced, including piling down to 6 metres
  • Lath and plaster ceiling linings were replaced throughout
  • Lath and plaster wall linings replaced throughout
  • Doors and windows were eased and adjusted throughout
  • Sewer and stormwater drainage was checked and minor repairs were made
  • Full interior and exterior redecoration.


The upgrades

Pre-upgrade condition


No wall insulation or building wrap

R 2.8 wall insulation installed in whole house with building wrap segments inserted between the frames 

No underfloor insulation or vapour barrier

R1.6 underfloor insulation installed

Damp underfloor

Polythene vapour barrier installed 

Cold conservatory facing due south with large area of glass

Homeowner funded extension to the house, replacing conservatory and installing double glazed windows in extension.

Old (1980s) hot water cylinder unwrapped with wetback on insert woodburner

New hot water cylinder and wetback installed by homeowner

Additional pipe lagging post completion

Poorly located hallway heat pump

Heat pump relocated to other end of hallway

Old inset woodburner in lounge

New low emission freestanding woodburner installed by homeowner 

Front bedrooms very cold, but living area overheats

Heat transfer system installed taking heat to two bedrooms and hallway (changed from third bedroom by homeowner)

No bathroom extract

New bathroom extract installed

Old ineffective extract vent in kitchen

New rangehood externally vented installed as part of kitchen upgrade by homeowner

High flow kitchen and bathroom taps

Tap aerators specified as part of work but not installed by builder

Good opportunity for rainwater tank installation

1000 litre rainwater tank installed

Single flush toilet

Dual flush toilet installed as part of wider bathroom upgrade by homeowner

Incandescent lights throughout the house

Homeowner didn’t want to replace with CFLs.  Installed multiple IC -rated downlights as part of extension and kitchen upgrade. 


  • 30-Nov-2013 (Report BBS/10)

    Spreydon 1: Build Back Smarter Case Study (PDF 1MB)

    Lois Easton

    The Build Back Smarter Project aims to develop evidence that residential performance upgrades can and should be included during earthquake repairs using the case studies of ten homes.  This report documents the third completed case study - the upgrade of a house known in the project as Spreydon 1.  

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Spreydon house

Spreydon underfloor insulation and barrier

Raising the house for foundation repairs was the perfect time to install underfloor insulation and a ground vapour barrier

Uninsulated walls

Before and after wall insulation

After wall insulation

Rain tank


Logo, Homestar


The upgrades took Spreydon 1 from 2 stars to 5 stars.

Logo, BBS

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.