Why is the quality of new builds in New Zealand declining?
The banks* lending criteria cause considerable stumbling blocks to innovation, better design and solutions which could improve quality and affordability. You think it’s hard trying to get a Resource Consent, try getting money out of a bank for a prefabricated eco home!
Worldwide evidence shows examples of better designed prefabricated homes being more safely constructed, faster, with lower build costs and higher energy performance ratings (EPC). These all offer a much lower carbon footprint, but do we see this in our Building Code? No, we don’t! Instead, we keep getting told by the large construction monopolists that “New Zealanders are too poor to afford quality homes as homes are unaffordable already.” If that is the case, maybe we should do what Sweden did 40-50 years ago with regulated building margin. Hey, what a novel approach. A well regulated, design and quality-driven Building Code which drives down costs, and increases the quality. Every home we are building to our current code is creating a future sick nation.
Our current New Zealand building standards provide for 3-4 star homes out of a possible 10star rating system. There are other more simple and internationally recognised rating tools, like the Energy Performance Certification (EPC) which the EU uses extensively, and is statute in law there. Our Building Code is equivalent to buying an old Landrover, with a new coat of paint and upholstery with a dirty great big V8 petrol engine. Only a few could afford to run it to the shop and even then the environmental costs are horrendous. Our New Zealand Building Standards are bordering on negligence.
What can we do about it?
We know what we have to do, change our standards now to consider energy as the base of design and building solutions. BRANZ research shows that only 2-3% of new homes get built above minimum standards. The minimum standards allow leaky, damp, cold methods and have little or no recognition of the energy it takes to live in them.
The standards and measuring tools are at our fingertips. Therefore, we as a nation must demand it.