The first two homes in New Zealand’s first Passive House-certified subdivision are ready for sale.
The two-storey three-bedroom homes at Bushland Park in Halswell, Christchurch, are so energy efficient, their new owners will be feeding power back to the grid when the sun shines on their recessed roof-top solar panels.
Winter power bills will still be low, with features including continuous mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, triple-glazed windows and well-above code levels of wool insulation – using wool from the sheep grazing in the neighbouring paddock.
The 144 square metre homes (with 42sqm of loft space) are the first in an 11-home stage, with another two houses expected to be under construction by the end of April. The next two homes will be four-bedroom.
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The subdivision is also focused on local, with cladding and decking in Abodo eco-timber (thermally-modified radiata pine), timber flooring from the Natural Flooring Company, and Terra Lana wool insulation.
The 6kW solar power systems, with battery, mean the homes should generate as much electricity as the households consume.
They’ve been independently assessed to meet Passive Home Plus standard.
Amanda Bielski, from building company Ethos Homes, says this means the houses are assessed through the planning and construction stages and – once-completed – tested using blower door testing to check airtightness.
“It has to be under 0.6 air changes per hour. One was 0.18 and the other was 0.26 so they’re very airtight.”
Bielski says the new homeowners can expect excellent air quality, no condensation or dampness, and “a very quiet and peaceful” feel to the home.
The indoor temperature will be between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius year-round.
Amanda Bielski says passive is a satisfying way to build.
Her husband, Peter Bielski, established Ethos Homes in 2016, after learning prefabrication methods and working in Passive House construction in Germany. His Christchurch-based company has so far built seven certified Passive Houses.
“We hear all the time stories about mouldy, damp homes and health problems of New Zealand children with asthma and eczema,” Amanda says.
“To know we’re building the best possible homes, well, we’re making a difference.”
She says the development will have a community feel, with many green spaces, and trees planted and retained.
“With their home, people have access to the nature reserve and wetland area. There’s a barbecue area and a playground where I’m sure everybody’s children will congregate.”
Her family, with children aged 2, 4, 6 and 11, is planning to move into the subdivision at a later stage.
The development was instigated by retired organic farmer Ernst Frei, who with his wife Renata, had grown organic vegetables over decades at the site, after becoming New Zealand’s first commercial organic poultry and free range egg producer in the 1980s.
At the height of production, they were grazing up to 2000 laying hens, and rearing and processing 1000 free-ranging meat chickens a month.
Frei has planted thousands of natives, mainly those that would have originally been onsite in the kahikatea swamp forest: species such as kahikatea, totara, and lancewood.
Listing agent Steven Ell, from Harcourts Holmwood, says Frei and Ethos Homes, have “pushed the envelope” to provide these energy efficient homes.
He says buyers will also benefit from the “thoughtfully designed family-friendly neighbourhood, where people are connected by shared spaces and living streets”.
“Every step of the design and construction process in these homes have been carefully considered with a whole system approach to maximise energy efficiency and a healthy living environment.”
Ell points to the eco features:
Bielski believes these are the first certified Passive Homes built for sale in New Zealand.
“People usually build Passive Homes for themselves,” she says, “and they love living in them so much they don’t tend to move.”
Numbers 8 and 10 Bushland Place will be auctioned on May 4 at 10am, unless sold prior.