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Interior fittings

We look at a few of the features, such as glazing and flooring, you might consider when thinking about the inside of your new home.

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Splashbacks in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry

A splashback is a good idea around cooking areas, basin, baths and tubs to protect the walls. They can be made of a number of materials such as tiles, glass or stainless steel. If tiles are used, make sure the wallboard is sealed first, as the grouting between the tiles can absorb water and damage the wallboard and even the framing behind.

You can use glass as a splashback but there is the risk of the glass shattering if it is fitted too close to gas hobs. There is a New Zealand Standard that gives the clearance zones: NZS 5261: 2003 ‘Gas Installation’ - see section 2.7 of the Standard.

Built-in vacuum systems

Consider installing a built-in vacuum cleaning system when you build, although they can also be put into existing homes. The advantages are:

  • Unlike a portable vacuum cleaner, the microscopic dust particles are expelled to the outside, leaving rooms with cleaner air.
  • The vacuum sockets are situated at strategic points within the building so it saves dragging around a cleaner.
  • No electric cable is required - the vacuum unit starts automatically when the end is inserted into a vacuum socket or by a switch on the handle.

Hot water cylinders

The New Zealand Standard 4305:1996 sets out the minimum energy efficiency requirements in terms of heat loss from hot water systems. Water heating probably accounts for 45% of your annual household energy use. Make sure the cylinder is well-insulated as well as having lagging around the pipes.


The New Zealand Standard 4223:1999 gives minimum requirements for glazing in buildings where people risk injury by falling into the glass.

There is a range of glasses you can choose from depending on what you want to achieve:

  • Thermal insulation, for example, double glazing or tinted glass.
  • Noise reduction.
  • Safety in areas of impact risk, for example, safety glass.
  • Privacy and fade protection, for example, tinted glass.

Some glasses will do all of these things, for example, double glazing, which is made using two sheets of glass with an air cavity between, to reduce heat loss and condensation. The advantage of double glazing is that you can have more window space without heat loss, and the house is cooler in summer. It can be tinted and toughened and reduces noise from outside.

Other points to note about different types of glass;

  • Insulating glass is available that has an insulating coating.
  • Glass designed specially to reduce noise is made from two sheets of glass bonded together.
  • Safety glass should be used in those areas where falls are likely, for example, ranch sliders, shower enclosures, or around stairs.
  • Glass specially strengthened to deter break-ins is available. It is resistant to breaking if hit with objects like a hammer.
  • Self-cleaning glass is available. It is useful for external windows that are hard to reach.
  • Decorative glass is available for special effect, such as frosted, leadlight, coloured or textured. There are also glass bricks for walls, partitions and special effect.

Before you decide on which type of glass should go where, find out what is available and talk with your designer to decide the best type of glass for each area of the house. Keep your mind open to interesting and innovative ways to make your new home attractive and energy efficient.

Floor coverings

There is a huge range of floor covering options available these days, including:

  • Carpet – options include synthetic, wool, synthetic-wool blends, loop or cut pile, heavy duty or extra heavy duty, and treated to help combat dust mites.
  • Wood.
  • Vinyl.
  • Tiles.

If you opt for anything other than carpet, with adequate underfloor insulation and possibly underfloor heating, warmth should not be a problem. However, wooden and vinyl flooring can be noisy.

A flooring specialist should be able to help you with all the options and prices.

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