Less is more! What New Zealanders really need in their homes
A lot of us grew up in 100 square metre homes, and that was somewhat the norm back then. But now, we are seeing an increasing amount of 300+ square metre homes. And for the most part, this is not due to an increase in family size. In fact, more and more people are opting not to have children or to have fewer children. Regardless, these larger homes are continuing to be built across the country, with a spare bedroom, a bathroom for every member of the household, multiple entertaining spaces, and garages for all the pretty collectibles.
Why? Because the demand is there. But is this a demand for needs? Or a demand of wants?
NZ homeowners say they WANT:
- A bigger home than their friends
- To keep up with the Joneses, everyone has big homes so I need one too!
- A spare room (or two) for that time once a year when family comes to stay
- To hold that status symbol of wealth that comes with owning a large home
Bigger is NOT better. Better is owning a home that is sustainably built, affordable to run, and healthy for your family. Now, this is not meant to disparage those who can afford to own a lavish house that is also healthy, affordable, and sustainable. Although it can feed into the mentality that size is everything and lead other NZers to prioritise the wrong things.
NZ homeowners NEED:
- Lower running costs, especially for heating in the winter months
- Air-tight homes
- Well insulated and ventilated spaces
- Passive energy features
WHY do we need these? WHY is it important?
- NZ home designs and building code standards are easily 20 years behind most developed countries.
- Living in homes that are draughty, damp, and cold has serious implications for our health.
- NZ has the highest childhood asthma rate in the world with 30% of children experiencing asthma by the age of 7.
- As a nation, our healthcare costs for respiratory diseases alone exceed $5 billion annually.
- On average NZ homeowners spend 7 years in their house. Therefore it is quite common for a home to be ‘outdated’ or in need of renovation by the time ownership changes hands. To decrease industry waste we need to be focusing on providing tomorrow’s homes today.
The vast majority of NZ homes are being built to merely meet the building code standards. Which at first blush sounds like a good thing, right? Wrong. Because the current NZ building code standards are, frankly, behind the times and do not compare to the rest of the developed world. By merely meeting the standards we are not giving NZ homeowners what they need and deserve. We need to build homes that exceed the current standards. Whilst working towards improving the current building code standards. The government is promising to ‘improve energy-efficiency’ in the building code, however, no specificities have yet to arise.
The Superhome Movement is developing a ‘Healthy home guide’ for industry members; architects, designers, builders. This is due to be released in the next few months. After releasing this to industry members the next step will be to simplify the message and educate the consumer market. Meaning, let NZ homeowners know what their worth is and why it is important to create a healthy, efficient living space. Legislate, then educate.