Make sure your house is in order with the New Zealand Green Building Council's HomeFit self-assessment tool.
By James le Page
The New Zealand Green Building Council (a not-for-profit that advocates for healthy, efficient and sustainable homes) released its HomeFit self-assessment tool last year.
After running your home through this assessment, you’ll know if there’s anything you need to work on to ensure your castle is healthy and efficient. The HomeFit tool focuses on dryness; warmth; and safety and efficiency. Homes that meet this grade will be cheaper to heat and healthier to live in than homes that only just meet New Zealand’s Building Code.
How does it work?
The HomeFit tool, available at homefit.org.nz, runs through your home’s insulation, ventilation, heating, curtains, windows, lighting and smoke alarms. There are 20 questions for you to work through. Then, once you’re done, HomeFit spits out a report outlining the good and bad aspects of your house.
If your property is up to snuff, you can then pay a trained HomeFit assessor to assess and certify your home. If you’re thinking of selling or renting out your place, being certified makes it clear your house will be a warm and efficient place to live.
How did we go?
Using the tool involves poking your nose in, around and under your house. How easy is it to do? Two Consumer staffers did self-assessments on their homes.
House 1 - Built 2015
You’d expect a newish house to automatically make the grade, but this wasn’t the case. This house had issues with mould around windows, and the curtains weren’t up to scratch. The ceiling insulation wasn’t measured (we couldn’t access the roof cavity since there was no ladder available) but it was assumed that it only met the building code rather than exceeded it. The HomeFit minimum requirement for a house in Wellington is R3.2 roof insulation, while the Building Code requires R2.9.
“Once I was done, the HomeFit report had good tips about what I could do to fix my problem areas. For fixes that were beyond me, it provided links to their recommended installers who could help bring my house up to HomeFit standard. The overall process was easy to follow with helpful diagrams but, having never really poked my nose around a house before, I found I was wildly assuming things at times (such as the ceiling insulation).”
Tip: “Make sure you have a ruler and ladder on standby. You’ll need to access your ceiling cavity and check the depth of your insulation.”
House 2 – Built 1980s
It was no real surprise this property wasn’t considered fit – it’s still in pretty much the original condition, save for a couple of minor cosmetic updates. The self-assessment highlighted the lack of rangehood, inadequate insulation, ill-fitting curtains and draughts under the front door.
“I found it easiest running through the questions on my laptop while walking around the house and checking things over. This house requires a lot of work to bring it up to standard. I already had a good idea of the failings, but its handy to have it sitting there in a list that I can, given the right motivation, get round to ticking off.”
Tip: “If you are looking at buying or renting a house, you could do a self-assessment on your smartphone at an open home. That said, while it’ll point out any obvious failings that you’ll need to address at some stage, it’s definitely no replacement for a building report.”
The HomeFit self-assessment provides a free and easy way for you to check the health of your crib. You’ll just need to be prepared to get into the tight spaces above and below the house to check things out. It’s a worthwhile pre-winter exercise that highlights the changes required to make your home warmer, safer and more comfortable over the colder months.