NZ Houses Are Like Glorified Tents

From a thread on the Trademe environment board:

  • (They) Keep the wind and rain out, most of the time. Lot of money and energy could be saved if they were built better. I have given up living in a house until I can afford to build my own. So my answer to the problem at the moment is to live in a mobile home.
  • One of the first comments foreign visitors make (right after the one about people looking unkempt) is about the quality of the housing, nobody can believe NZ has such shittily built low-quality houses. Had a Canadian lecturer many years ago at varsity who complained that they have water running down the walls, mold growing on their clothing and constant damp cold and smell permeating the house. He couldn’t wait till the end of his contract to go back.
  • I’ve built my own system for extracting the heat from the roof space. It’s just a small PV solar panel hooked up to some 12v computer fans and some ducting. My house has a dark coloured roof, so it does a fair job of warming the house on a sunny day in the cooler months. I turned it off over summer, for obvious reasons. Averaging 23 to 24C inside when I get home at night, in the last couple of weeks, however it has been fairly mild up in the North temperature wise, and it’s sunny most days with this ongoing drought. My house is north facing too, so perhaps better suited to this sort of thing than many typical houses.

As far as you house is concerned, convective losses, that is heat that is carried away by air currents, can amount to a reasonable proportion of wasted energy too. Inspecting and fixing air leaking out through windows and external doors can go some way towards making your place warmer too.

  • Totally agree! I am in a cold rental too, till I can afford to build my own. Often in winter it is colder inside than outside and I have to open the windows to warm up the house. How pathatic is that! But I am trying to do something about it. I am a ABSA accredited Home Energy Rating (HERS) assessor.
    That means I come to your house, or get sent the building plans and analyse them with a computer model. And then I give advice about the best way to improve the energy efficiency. This usually involves upgrading the insulation and installing double glazing. If only more people would hire me…….
    Then I could afford to build my own house!
  • Yup have experienced that “colder inside than outside feeling“. We moved into our current house last September and on 24th it snowed! We got about 2-3 inches although this should not be a yearly event, hopefully! It was 7 degrees celsius in the bathroom that day (south side of house) and we may as well have been living in a tent. The fire was going full blast and only keeping the lounge warm. Since insulating walls and ceiling we have had a few cool nights down to 5 degrees ish. It has been a comfy 18 degrees through the living and bedroom spaces by wakeup time at 6.30 am with the woodfire damped down overnight. We were thrilled with this as the insulation investment was significant. And we still have a few more windows to cover with thick thermal-backed curtains which should improve things more. After years in a cold, not very sunny house I am finally not dreading winter this year.
  • Do you have window pelmets?
  • Hi behappy, yes, yes, yes thankfully we do. Interestingly in our previous house we looked at getting one of those DVS type systems to use the warm air in the ceiling space to warm the house a little during the day as we did not get much direct sunshine. I know they market them more for dampness but the house was dry – just cold. When the guy came to give us a quote he said because of the pelmets we would have to leave the curtains open at night in winter to let the introduced air keep the windows free of condensation. At that point I realized what a crazy idea those things are. We spent significant money on firewood to heat the place and then we were supposed to introduce cold air from the ceiling all through the night and leave the curtains open. We moved house and now have big north facing windows. 🙂 Will be glad when my curtain making is finished though – enormous task!
  • The problem is the age of our housing stock, on the most part it is too expensive to retrofit insulation to modern standards. Yes, we used to not think about things like insulation and just turn the heater up to full but our expectations were different back then. We didn’t expect to walk around our whole house in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter. They would heat the living room with a fire or electric heater and if they went to another room it would be to the bed room to go to bed. I dont know anyone who thinks that insulating your home is not a good investment now or of anyone who would not insulate if it was optional. Attitudes have changes but it will take years to bring the old housing stock up to modern standards. People forget that NZ is a very young country and people couldn’t afford to build houses out of brick and stone like the ones you are talking about in Europe and North America. Their comparitive wealth and high population density has ment they can build large scale quality houses for a hundred years.
  • Or could it be the #8 wire mentality?
  • Actually gadgetman is correct in his statements about NZ housing. Something the general public is only starting to acknowledge is the detrimental affect on health from living in a cold house. Apparently your heart has to work harder below about 12 degrees C. So imagine someone with respiratory problems and perhaps a weak heart sleeping night after night in a cold house. There can be serious physical consequences.
  • one of my sisters has a DVS (or similar) system. It’s great at night in summer -nice and cool and does keep her bathrooms dry throughout the year, however it’s bloody cold inside at night once you get to the middle of Autumn, because it’s pulling in that cold air from the ceiling space. Not a well thought out system, but I guess better than nothing if dampness is a problem.

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7 thoughts on “NZ Houses Are Like Glorified Tents

  1. One of the biggest emphasises in building [in the US] for the last 20 years has been ” air infiltration”. Drafts, insulation, weather stripping… Come to find out, this is a totally novel concept in nz.

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  2. I noticed the same thing Doodled did and never said anything for fear of being thought crazy.

    It’s the faces. A high percentage of them look kind of fetal. And it is not all fetal alcohol. They genuinely look not quite developed, or Avatar-ish. Something between the eyes,eyebrows, forehead? There is “something”. I assumed it was inbreeding because of the low number of types of people you see, as if most of them migrated from just a few different places, so a broad variety of genes did not get a look in.

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  3. (right after the one about people looking unkempt)

    So right so. They all look like some unfinished project, as if someone started to build a human being and gave up half way. Even the half-good looking ones have this unfinished look.

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  4. The International Monetary Fund recently reported, as if the house overvaluing isn’t bad enough, that based on the OECD’s price-to-rent ratio, rents are 43 per cent overvalued compared with the past 20 years!

    No wonder we can’t find a human habitation within our budget.

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