Unhealthy homes: HomeFit reveals the problems with Kiwi houses

New stats show that many Kiwis will be shivering this winter.

20may state of kiwi housing hero

HomeFit sends you on a journey through, under and around your home to check the state of all things heating, insulation and safety.

Since 2019, nearly 30,000 Kiwis have completed this free assessment put together by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC). We’ve been given the results and to say we’re shocked is an understatement. It’s clear we have a long way to go as a country to fix our housing stock.

Survey results

40% had visible mould

Prolonged periods of high humidity allow mould to grow in your household. What’s worse is good mould-growing conditions are usually also prime conditions for dust mites and bacteria to thrive. That’s bad news for asthma sufferers. Ventilation and heating are your best weapons to combat mould.

47% had no vapour barrier under the floor

You can have 40L of airborne moisture released under your home from a 100m² uncovered subfloor – equivalent to a small car’s gas tank. A staggering number of properties have a moisture problem that’s easy to fix – it’s a simple enough DIY job to install a vapour barrier if you have access and aren’t afraid of the spiders under the house (if so, it’s not too expensive to get someone in to do it for you).

39% had holes or gaps in the walls, ceilings, floorboards or windows that let cold air in

Draughts are heat thieves and our creaky old homes have gaps all over the show, which makes them incredibly hard to keep warm. There are plenty of draught-stopping products available that you can use in your home.

11% homes had no insulation in the space under their homes

Insulation is key to keeping warmth inside your home. Without it, heat escapes through the walls, floors and ceilings, making your house considerably harder, and more expensive, to keep warm. Twelve percent of your heat can be lost through your floor so make sure you have something in place if you have access under the house.

12% had no heater in their main living space

That’s almost 3600 homes that will be shivering over winter. If you have a spare heater knocking about in your garage, how about donating it to a charity? There are clearly people out there who need them.

515 homes still use dangerous unflued gas heaters

These pump out litres of moisture into the air and suck up oxygen in the room. While they’re downright dangerous, they’re still available for sale.

5% didn’t have any working smoke alarms

It’s inexcusable that five percent of the homes assessed didn’t have working smoke alarms. It’s a simple, cheap fix. If you have any non-functioning alarms, change the batteries or get them replaced as soon as possible.

Should you do a HomeFit assessment?

A NZGBC survey showed 50% of people went on to make home improvements after undertaking the free assessment. It’ll take you less than an hour to potter around and complete, after which you’ll have some excellent starting points for improving the health, warmth and comfort of your home. To give it a go, head to homefit.org.nz

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