Designing superhomes, affordable to award winning - Building NZ
Designing superhomes, affordable to award winning

Designing superhomes, affordable to award winning

New Zealand has one of the worst winter mortality rates in the developed world along with a host of infectious diseases that are rarely seen on this scale elsewhere. Our childhood asthma rates are also some of the highest globally. We spoke to Bob Burnett Architecture about building better, safer, more resilient homes.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Following the Christchurch earthquakes, Bob Burnett of Bob Burnett Architecture was forced out of his hill top home. For the first six months him and his family were able to reside in a new home he had designed for clients who were still overseas. It was when that tenancy ended that the family went from rental property to rental property for a few years.

“What we experienced was the real state of New Zealand’s substandard housing,” Bob says. “The experience was really what prompted me to start what’s now known as the Superhome Movement.”

The movement is one that advocates for better building in terms of design, efficiency, sustainability and resilience. “Our aim is to raise public awareness about the dangers of building to the Building Code minimum standards and dispel the myth that building better homes is too expensive or unachievable.”

10 Star Superhome - Bob Burnett Architecture

According to Bob, almost all houses currently being built in New Zealand don’t meet World Health Organisation standards for air temperature. “In Christchurch, 90 per cent of people surveyed recently said they felt their homes were too cold. Combined with that, BRANZ research shows that almost all homes are built to meet the minimum Building Code standards, whether those are low budget houses or those at the highest end of the market.”

"The New Zealand Building Code is twenty years behind other OECD countries.” Bob says. “What we have now in New Zealand is a Building Code that sets out the worst possible standard that can legally be built and this is universally used as a target by the industry. The fact that that is happening is leading us, racing, towards a cliff and paving the way for a poor future.

“In New Zealand, there is no requirement in the Building Code for airtightness and no requirements around ventilation aside from requiring five per cent of the total area to have opening windows, which is not an effective method of ventilation.”

Air quality is a part of the design people don’t generally think about, Bob says, but it’s one that’s of critical importance to a healthy home. “Generally, the air quality inside a New Zealand home is 10 times as bad as the outside air quality.”

Poor air quality and lack of ventilation lead to many issues, the most widely discussed of which is mould and adverse effects on human health.

10 Star Superhome - Bob Burnett Architecture

Bob’s mission with the Superhome Movement is to raise awareness about ways to build better and combat what he describes as our true housing crisis head on. “There is a lot of misinformation out there around the costs of building better, healthier and more sustainable houses.

Bob says. “But housing affordability is not just about how much a house costs to build. It’s a more holistic measure, which includes the cost of owning it, maintaining and heating it. 

The Superhome Movement holds nationwide tours of the country’s most energy efficient, healthy homes to educate and create awareness of important design elements beyond code minimums.

Make sure you visit Bob Burnett Architecture on ArchiPro here to peruse the firm’s latest award-winning sustainable design portfolio of superhomes.

10 Star Superhome - Bob Burnett Architecture
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