Longevity of a home will increase its value, but many people don’t know what they can do, experts say.
The construction boom may be at its peak, but consents for new homes remain at record highs and demand for renovations remains high. Economist Tony Alexander’s latest spending survey shows home improvement projects rose for the third month in a row in September.
When such work is underway, it’s a good time to add features to a home that will make it more energy efficient, or more climate resistant, or better suited for another lockdown, or for an aging homeowner.
But the drive to get people to make their homes future-proof to deal with climate change issues often runs into a snag, said Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles.
“While people are quick to embark on a fancy kitchen renovation, they are hesitant to install a heat pump system or premium double glazing, which will make their home warmer and drier and reduce their carbon footprint.”
It’s not just the reluctance to give up the added value of the traditional home, many people don’t know what they can do to make their home more energy efficient and how it will benefit them, he says.
“The built environment is responsible for 20% of the country’s carbon footprint, so reducing associated emissions has widespread value. But energy-efficient homes also save households money and have important health benefits.
Although the best way to ensure a home’s energy efficiency is to require it to achieve a high Homestar rating when it is built or undergoes a major renovation, there are things people can do to improve the performance of a smaller-scale home, he says. .
“It’s about getting warmer, drier homes that use less energy and have better circulation and air quality. Safe and efficient insulation, ventilation and heating systems are essential for this.
“Healthy House Standards for Rental Properties offers good guidance, but installing standard-compliant insulation, installing exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens, getting a heat pump and draft blocking are all helpful.”
The more expensive options include installing whole house heating and ventilation systems and double glazing, which will further improve a home’s performance.
Rising use of green energy means another way people can future-proof their homes is to install solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, says Auckland developer David Whitburn.
“In many countries in Europe and Asia, there has been a big move towards electric vehicles, and this has led to many new build developments that have home charging stations.
“It’s a trend that’s only going to grow here too, and adding a charger and docking space to a home sets it up for when New Zealand starts to use electric vehicles more. .”
Covid shutdowns and the rise of remote working have led to the repurposing of space in many homes. But creating more formal workspaces will help homeowners prepare for any future pandemics and support those working from home, he says.
“It requires setting up a real home office, so people don’t have to work from laptops at the kitchen table. A less obvious aspect is making sure you have the right digital setup to successfully support remote work.
WiFi works well up to a point, but for more efficient business networks, more capacity, over cables that support high data transfer rates, is needed, he says.
“Installing them when construction is better because they can be a pain to retrofit, but putting this type of wiring in a home will prepare it for new emerging digital technologies and internet standards.”
Keep to Profit Renovations director Mark Trafford said he has received a large number of inquiries about setting up separate home office space around each lockdown, but those inquiries have now diminished.
Converting unused space into a desk or placing a fold-down desk behind cabinet doors for a concealed option gives people the ability to easily work from home, which will always add value to a home, he says.
Since the closures, there has been an upsurge in inquiries about work to improve the lifestyle features of a home, such as building or extending terraces and installing swimming pools.
“It’s also about sustainability, as people have been stuck at home for long periods of time, and it’s left them wanting to make sure their home can be as nice as possible in case something similar happens. would happen again.”
But these types of recreational features also add to a property’s resale value, he says.
People can also future-proof their homes by preparing for the new demands of old age. This involves modifying properties to include features such as ramps, non-slip floors, grab bars and handrails and transfer benches.
Trafford says he does a good deal of that work and is growing in popularity as the country’s population ages.
“It allows people to stay safe in their homes and communities longer, which is valuable to them and important from a social perspective. The problem is that there aren’t enough people who know all the options available to them in this space.