Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Markets and Banking reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Power saving house plan

Energy-efficient home uses less than half power of typical NZ dwelling.

Nick Officer (left), Ben Jagersma, Anna Farrow and Eli Nuttall, with a model of the First Light energy-efficient home. Photo / Supplied
Nick Officer (left), Ben Jagersma, Anna Farrow and Eli Nuttall, with a model of the First Light energy-efficient home. Photo / Supplied

A Wellington company is today officially launching its new generation of energy-efficient, factory-built homes, targeted at the Christchurch re-build, empty nesters and prospective bach owners.

First Light director Ben Jagersma said the houses used less than half the electricity of a typical Kiwi home and could be constructed in just two-to-four weeks.

"The home uses ultra-thick insulation, thermally efficient glazing and has an air-tight building envelope to maintain a comfortable temperature without the need for mechanical heating or cooling throughout most of the country," Jagersma said.

He said they also had solar water collectors on their roofs to save on hot-water heating costs.

The homes are manufactured in Matamata, before being transported in pieces and assembled on a building site.

The company was formed this year by four Victoria University architecture graduates - Jagersma, Anna Farrow, Eli Nuttall and Nick Officer.

The group placed third in a US Energy Department competition last year for a power-saving home they designed, built and shipped to the United States for the event.

The home was set up in Wellington's Frank Kitts Park after it arrived back in New Zealand.

"We had a positive response from the public and we put together a database of people who registered their interest in the house," Jagersma said.

"From that list we've just kept in contact over the past eight months as we've developed the next version of the house."

He said the new version had been designed specifically for the New Zealand environment and affordability.

First Light already had a couple of potential clients lined up for the homes, priced from $250,000 for two bedrooms up to $400,000 with a third bedroom attached.

Empty nesters - parents whose children have recently moved out of home - were the main market First Light was focusing on, Jagersma said.

"They're people who've got a bit of money and they're looking to downsize [their home] for retirement."

Jagersma said Christchurch was another key potential market.

"We're working on a larger option - a three or four-bedroom home - for Christchurch."

Up to 20,000 new houses are expected to be built in Christchurch over the next five years, with some related to the earthquake rebuild and others to a general economic recovery, according to a report in the Press.

Jagersma said the homes would also make good baches.

"The original concept was based on bach lifestyle," he said.

"We took lots of those ideals and translated them into a modern home that you could live in all year round."

Jagersma said First Light was talking with two potential investors to help fund the firm through its next stage of growth.

- NZ Herald

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