In my previous post I outlined what the Homestar home assessment was and how to get started. The first step is doing an assessment on your home using the self assessment tool on their website. The tool was pretty easy and walks you through each step asking a series of questions. The questionnaire is broken down into several steps:
Some pretty basic facts about the house (size, number of bedrooms, etc.) It also asks you the type of house you have and shows photos of the different types. As we live in a villa this was pretty straight forward.
This section covers what type of heating you have, hot water, lighting and also if you generate any of your own electricity.
Health and Comfort
Windows, ceilings, walls and floors. This section basically goes over how well insulated your home is aling with how well things like sunlight affect the house. The one issue we had with this questions is that it doesn’t really show a roof type where there is a bedroom in the ceiling as we have. A quick check with my wife the architect and we came to the conclusion that a Skillion roof was the closest match. This is probably one thing they need to add to the questionnaire. There were also some interesting questions on downlights as in the conclusions this made me aware of some issues with these types of light which are so prevalent in NZ.
Some pretty straight forward questions your appliances and if you use any of your grey water. An area which I think will have an important role to play in the future.
Waste and Home Management
These 2 sections start to cover some less major physical aspects of the house and more around some of the lifestyle choices. Questions about compost bins, recycling and home security. All easy questions to answer but great prompts for things that you can easily do to change your habits. We personally have that already so did quite well in this section.
The final questions are about outside and where the site is located. You can’t do too much about some things like how close you are to public transport but there are a few things around planting that are good to think about.
So how did we do at the end of it? I’m pleased to report that we got a 4 although I expect that if we had the official measurements done it would come out slightly lower as the house is cold in winter. The results also come with a handy summary of things that you can do to increase the score and comfort of your home. One eye-opener was that recessed lighting can be really bad for the efficiency of your house. Basically since there is no insulation over the top of them and they are hot, air gets sucked up through them and out into the roof. It is definitely something that we will be looking at during the renovation.
There were also a lot of other recommendations but I will leave some of the decisions we made to another post. We’ve just had a Homestar Practitioner around and he did a more thorough look through the house and pointed out some areas where we may be able to improve things.
I attended a presentation today about the Homestar home assessments. Homestar is a relatively new initiative that “helps you improve the performance of your home – making it better. Better to live in, better for the planet and better value in the market.” Realestate.co.nz is working with Homestar to help launch this to real estate professionals in New Zealand and to give it more visibility in the market. As we are about to do some renoovations at home I’m hoping to go through the process of getting an audit done before we do the work and then an assessment afterwards. I will keep you all posted on the progress of the work but in the meantime here are my notes from the presentation today.
The Origins of Homestar
There are approximately 1 million homes in New Zealand that are under performing. New Zealand is known for cold damp homes and it is something that needs to change. Poorly performing buildings cost more to run, are uncomfortable and can lead to increased spending in areas such as healthcare. Kiwis also spend around 3-5K on home performance measures and we need to make sure that this money is being spent wisely.
From this need Homestar was born to develop a common language that we could use to assess home performance in New Zealand. Homestar is a Joint Venture partnership between BRANZ and the New Zealand Green Building Council and is backed by various partners including EECA and the Department of Building and Housing.
What is Homestar?
Homestar is a voluntary environmental rating tool which helps you measure your homes environment against a set of well defined standards. It currently only measures stand alone homes (not apartments). They have taken the best from overseas and also local tools to develop an easy to understand measurement framework.
The assessment measures your house on a scale of 1-10 although it is important to note that in New Zealand most homes are rated a 3-4. The medium term goal is to get most New Zealand homes up to a 4-5 (4 is about where a house built to New Zealand building code sits). As you get higher up the scale the points get hard to achieve. For example solar panels to generate electricity and other innovations that tend to be more niche at the moment.
The measurement covers various aspects of your house with energy being one of the most important measures. There are other measurements as well including moisture control (e.g. extractor fans tied to switch in bathrooms) and water efficiency e.g. restricter valves on taps).
So How Do I Get It?
Simple. Just go to Homestar.org.nz and sign up to do your own assessment. From there you can get extra services if you need a little help or want to get professional advice before you start. The site helps you find someone qualified who services your region.
Yep. It really is that easy. The questionnaire is pretty straight forward and only takes about 20 minutes.
Let me know in the comments if you have gone through the questionnaire. I will post updates as I go through the process myself.
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