Ad­vice from smart home own­ers

Tips for build­ing small, ef­fi­cient, warm, smart homes

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words Nadene Hall

This is Julie Vil­lard and her part­ner Ed­ward’s new smart house. Julie is the Eco De­sign Ad­vi­sor for the Christchurch City Coun­cil, and trained and worked as an ar­chi­tect in Europe, where warm, ef­fi­cient, ‘smart’ homes have been the norm for 20+ years.

New Zealand’s build­ing stan­dards are very low in com­par­i­son. Julie wanted to set a good ex­am­ple of what can be achieved.

“I de­cided to use this house as a tool to show peo­ple you can ac­tu­ally achieve a good, ef­fi­cient home.”

1 Do your home­work first

Julie has vast ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign­ing en­ergy-ef­fi­cient, well-in­su­lated homes. In con­trast, most NZ homes only meet the min­i­mum le­gal stan­dard for build­ings, and noth­ing more.

“What’s re­ally im­por­tant if home­own­ers want to stay on bud­get, I re­ally rec­om­mend they do their home­work first. It is re­ally im­por­tant to de­fine your needs ver­sus your wants, and work from there.” WHERE TO START ECO DE­SIGN AD­VI­SORS A free ser­vice at many NZ coun­cils. If your coun­cil doesn’t have one, there are guides on their web­site. www.ecodes­ig­nad­vi­sor.org.nz SUPERHOMES This non-profit, in­dus­try-led group leads tours of smart homes around NZ and has a di­rec­tory of ‘smart’ prod­uct sup­pli­ers. www.su­per­home.co.nz SMARTER HOMES A series of guides fo­cus­ing on smart home fun­da­men­tals, funded by Govern­ment. www.smarter­homes.org.nz

2 Stick to the plan

Stick­ing to the plan will save you a lot of money says Julie.

“I said to Eddy, ‘ When we ap­ply for our build­ing con­sent, this is it! We are not chang­ing any­thing: the lay­out or a win­dow size. We stick to what we’ve got.’

“If you do make changes, it’s go­ing to cost you, and more than what you think: you have to pay the ar­chi­tect, the coun­cil, the builder.”

Julie says even she was tempted dur­ing her build.

“The win­dow man­u­fac­turer came to me and said, ‘we can triple glaze (the win­dows) now’. I was like, ‘Oh! But we’ll stay with dou­ble glaz­ing’.

“It’s re­ally im­por­tant to be re­spon­si­ble.”

3 Build a smaller house

In Julie’s Eco De­sign Ad­vi­sor role, one of the most im­por­tant de­sign fea­tures she ad­vo­cates for, is smaller, high­erqual­ity homes. Her own home is 117m².

“It’s about con­scious choices. I pre­fer to have a two bed­room house with a mez­za­nine – peo­ple can sleep there if we have guests – in­stead of pay­ing for an­other bed­room that we’re never go­ing to use.” Above: Julie and Ed­ward’s smart home is two-bed­rooms and 117m². Look out for a full pro­file of the smart fea­tures of their home in an up­com­ing is­sue.

4 Keep it sim­ple

Dave Laun­der’s ad­vice from 40+ years as an ar­chi­tect: keep the de­sign as sim­ple as pos­si­ble.

“I’ve al­ways had the phi­los­o­phy that I should never de­sign any­thing I can’t build my­self. I like sim­ple de­sign, and that hand­made feel that comes with it, par­ing things right back to what they sim­ply need to be. This house has very much been a hands-on build.”

He and Iso­bel built their pre­vi­ous home in Otaki with help from a labourer. It won the Supreme Award at the 2007 New Zealand In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tec­ture Awards.

Dave took in­spi­ra­tion for the de­sign of their Kaipara house from his work on a large farm shed. Dur­ing that pro­ject, Dave says he learned a lot about the ver­sa­til­ity and at­trac­tive­ness of cool-store pan­els. They come in set widths, with steel fram­ing and an al­ready-fin­ished, shiny sur­face.

“Be­cause we built us­ing cool-store pan­els, in­ter­lock­ing on a steel frame, it was very quick to get the roof up.”

There are draw­backs. Only one com­pany has them cer­ti­fied as a struc­tural el­e­ment and there are re­stric­tions.

“They are not fea­si­ble to use in a gen­eral sense with­out spe­cific en­gi­neer­ing de­sign (SED), and this puts them into gen­er­ally the too-hard bas­ket.

“They are clas­si­fied only as a ‘cladding’ prod­uct gen­er­ally.”

“I’ve al­ways had this phi­los­o­phy that I should never de­sign any­thing I can’t build my­self.”

WHO: Dave Laun­der & Iso­bel Gabites WHERE: Kaipara Har­bour WHAT: three-wing, 160m² home, built from cool store pan­els on steel frames, with cedar cladding WEB: www.dn2.co.nz

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