New-age home may set trend

By Lawrence Gullery

A Hastings pilot programme that aims to construct warmer, drier and healthier homes, could be rolled out to the rest of the country or even used as part of the Christchurch rebuild programme.

The Hastings District Council launched its Best Home project in Havelock North on Friday where it has a showhome under construction demonstrating how an energy-efficient home can be built.

The council has joined with Hawke's Bay company Horvath Homes which had started building the 187sq m, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home under the guidance of building research company, Beacon Pathway.

The goal is for the new home to exceed current building regulations to achieve a minimum of six stars on the Homestar energy efficient rating tool for no more than 5 per cent additional cost to a standard build. Most new homes today achieve a three or four-star rating.

Construction methods would also reduce landfill waste by 75 per cent and the project had set a target of sending no more than 200kg of waste generated by the construction project.

New Zealand's first Best Home would be completed in October, and was expected to be valued around the $500,000 mark.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the initiative had been prompted in part by the increasing cost of living as energy bills continued to soar.

"And more people are becoming savvy about the long-term benefits of sustainable housing.

"The problem is there is a common misconception that the initial financial outlay to build sustainably is extremely expensive but this doesn't have to be the case.

"A Best Home will be designed and constructed to be warmer, drier and healthier in winter while remaining cool and comfortable in the summer without having to rely solely on mechanical devices."

The council pledged a Best Home building consent application would be processed in five working days, under its "green tape" process. The norm was about 20 working days.

Mr Yule said the initiative could be picked up by others in the industry.

"This is really a show-and-tell process to design and deliver a home with a six-star rating. It will be the subject of a case study and be available to any builder, any council, right around the country.

"We've already had significant interest from Christchurch City Council as part of their rebuild."

Horvath Homes has built more than 400 homes in the past decade and averages 60 homes annually in Hawke's Bay with recent projects in Frimley and Parklands.

In 2009 the company's director Adam Horvath asked the council for sustainable living measures to be built into its long-term plan.

That led to a joint effort between his company and the council to develop a pilot model for Best Homes.

"Council took what we were saying really seriously and saw value in working with us to understand what home owners really want in their new home ... working with the council to a best-practice model will better place building industry professionals to deliver what the market is asking for," he said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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