Sustainable renovation 101

Back to Existing Homes

Knowing what to do when you’re renovating, and in what order, saves time and money. Taking a ‘whole-of-house’ approach, which extends beyond a package of energy efficiency initiatives to include water, waste and indoor environment quality, can provide a clear renovation pathway.

The trouble is that most renovations are done for purely cosmetic reasons. Despite the fact that New Zealand houses are generally energy-inefficient and therefore expensive to run, the top five investments people make when moving into a new home are interior decorating, kitchen appliances and cabinetry, carpets, bathroom fitouts, and re-plumbing or re-wiring.

Yet these ‘investments’ provide little appreciable return, and do almost nothing to improve the quality of the indoor environment in any meaningful sense.

There are fundamentals when it comes to the building fabric of any home. While heat pumps can be good, it’s like putting a bigger heater into a sports car with a torn roof. We need to look at the root causes that make our homes ‘dumb’.

Even those looking to fight the cold, mould and damp inherent in many New Zealand homes go about it the wrong way, installing expensive home ventilation systems, heat pumps and dehumidifiers, rather than first looking to treat the cause.

Small wonder, then, that Beacon’s research found nearly half the owner-occupiers who had attempted to rid their homes of mould or damp continue to have problems. Yet these problems are solvable, and the solutions are readily available.

The vital first step is to find and address the root cause. If a house is poorly insulated, for example, turning up the heat will be an ineffectual and costly response.

An independent assessment, such as that provided under Beacon’s HomeSmart model, can form the basis of an action plan to transform your environment, allowing you to maximise your home’s comfort, efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Having a plan in place allows you to approach the work in a systematic fashion. You don’t need to do it all at once, but doing it in the right order will save you time, money and inconvenience.


Installing insulation is a good first step

Installing insulation is a good first step.