Department of Building and Housing Starter Home

The Department of Building and Housing Starter Home Design Competition winning entry by Stephen Smith of S3 Architects Limited was today opened for public viewing.

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Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson opened The Simple House in Preston Road, Otara. The Simple House will be open for public viewing for two weeks before being returned to Housing New Zealand.

The Simple House Acceptable Solution

The house design competition was designed to promote The Simple House Acceptable Solution and demonstrate what can be achieved within the criteria of the acceptable solution.

The Simple House Acceptable Solution is design guide for single storey homes using limited roof spans and a limited range of cladding materials to promote simplicity using proven methods of construction to help make new homes more affordable for first home buyers.

The key criteria for home design:

  • Maximum of 120 square metres of habitable floor area
  • Maximum cost of $1,400 per square metre
  • Structural strength and durability for the majority of locations in New Zealand
  • Finishes that reflected the requirements for durability and low maintenance
  • Designs that allowed for changing family needs over time through adaptability and the incorporation of lifetime features such as wide doorways and easy access
  • Designs incorporating energy efficiency, water efficiency, material efficiency, and waste minimisation, and low ongoing operational costs

What Should Home Buyers Look For When Viewing Older Houses?

Whether you choose a colonial style villa or an art deco townhouse, any good builder will tell you that all older homes will at some stage demand repairs to keep them in top-notch condition. Perhaps one of the most well known and expensive problems faced by home owners in New Zealand is ‘leaky building syndrome’: an issue synonymous with more modern clad homes. The extensive media and publicity that has surrounded the issue of leaky building syndrome has changed the way home buyers tackle house hunting, with many purchasers looking at older home options. While the hope that traditionally built properties will offer the benefits of better and longer lasting materials, this is unfortunately not always the case.

While older houses are generally accepted as being cheaper and easier to fix should repairs be needed, the special care and attention they require shouldn’t be taken lightly by potential buyers. Older properties in New Zealand do have the advantage of being built using hardy timbers like Rimu and Kauri, but it’s important for home owners to remember that these types of timbers call for ongoing protection against wear and tear and the weather, as well as routine maintenance.

So what should prospective buyers look out for when viewing older homes? If you notice a wave-like appearance in the floor of an older home, this may be due to decayed timber foundation piles. This is a common problem in traditionally built houses, and re-blocking is usually the only long term solution. If you fall in love with a delightful old villa with a wavy floor and decide to buy it and foot the repair bill, you can expect to invest between $10,000 to $15,000 or more to have it re-blocked, with costs relying on the size of the home and whether it is situated on a flat or sloped section.

While the bottom of the house may need some tender loving care, the very top is also an area commonly requiring maintenance or repair. Older style homes tend to boast metal roof cladding such as corrugated iron, and without the right safeguarding and protection a number of problems can arise. From corrosion to the roof material and flashings to loose and missing nails and dilapidated paint work, repairs on an older roof can end up costing homeowners in the same vicinity as the foundation piles!

As for all the work needed in between the top and bottom, weatherboards, fascias and window frames are continuously exposed to the harsh New Zealand elements which can lead to rot if not cared for properly. These issues are generally simple to spot and fairly easy to repair, but like anything there will be some costs involved. Other, more minor, problem areas to be aware of can include everything from older plumbing systems and lack of insulation to electrical fittings, worn door and window catches, and older wiring to name just a small assortment.

One of the great things about older properties is that they are never lacking in character, so any repair work or maintenance you carry out as an older home owner will no doubt be a labour of love. As increased interest in this sector of the real estate market continues to grow, good quality older homes are becoming harder to find. The obvious benefit seen by prospective older home buyers is that a few small corrective repairs and inexpensive ongoing maintenance is often a great deal cheaper than having to reclad a modern property suffering the dreaded leaky building syndrome.

John Bolton is one of New Zealand’s leading experts on the home buying process, mortgages and interest rate risk management. His business, Squirrel Mortgages, helps Kiwis successfully buy over $10m of property every month. You can reach John though his website or follow his blog for lots of tips and advice on the New Zealand property market

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