There are many websites and books that can help you and New Zealand has some of the best. If there is an Eco Design adviser in your council, book an appointment, the earlier the better.
This is a free service that many councils offer (go to www.ecodesignadvisor.org.nz for more information).
The service provides free, independent, tailored advice on sustainability options to homeowners and industry professionals involved in home building and renovation projects.
The advisers are independent industry specialists working to help people make well-informed decisions about the way homes are constructed and about how to keep them sustainable into the future.
Issues considered include health and comfort, savings on energy and water bills (including solar water heating), choice of sustainable materials and the impact on the environment.
During the construction process, encourage good communication between trades, keep a tidy site and set up recycling facilities.
These steps will help reduce waste of materials, time, and money.
Consider using double glazing on windows, installation of solar water heaters there is financial support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (www.eeca.govt. nz) for installation of these, and installation of grey water (water used for washing) recycling for instance, use in the garden or flushing toilets.
Keep a close eye on the details of installation of insulation: Did you know that having a 4mm gap at the edge of a ceiling insulation batt or cutting large holes in the insulation to fit ceiling downlights, can result in a 40 per cent loss of insulation R-value?