6 Actions For A Cost Effective Home Renovation

Renovating an old building that is full of character is not only a romantic dream for many of us, but also a more efficient use of our existing resources. Old buildings add charm and history to our landscape. We all remember timber features or the open fireplaces in an older home. Renovating is more environmentally friendly and helps us in NZ achieve the set goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Why is it more sustainable to renovate than to build new? There are two reasons.

  1. The foundation, the roof and the structure are the three most carbon emission costly parts of your home. In a renovation they can often be left in place and re-used. This would mean a great amount of carbon emission can be saved compared to constructing a new building.

  2. Put carbon emissions aside, renovating would also reduce the amount of new materials required and cut down the quantity of construction waste created.

So how could we renovate our old house into a healthy, comfortable and efficient home?

At Circular Project, we spoke with an absolute expert in the field—Grant McSherry from Premium Homes in Christchurch. Grant specialises in helping people make their home renovation dreams come true. Together we have summarised 6 actions you should consider when planning your house renovation.

1. Think About Efficiency

Older buildings are often not insulated and cold. It means high costs to heat a house that often still feels cold. Living in an old house could also mean you need to wear many sweaters to stay warm. On average we spend 34% of our energy costs on space heating (1), about NZ$ 1,330 per year. The World Health Organisation recommends we keep our indoor temperature at minimum 18 degrees Celsius in winter. Most older properties only have this on very small spaces within the house. Efficient homes are healthier, cheaper to run and more comfortable to live in.

Installing insulation is an important way to keep the heat that is generated by your heating device or coming in from the sun in your house. Using natural insulation materials, such as sheep wool, is even better here. Besides the ability in keeping the warmth in your home, many natural insulation materials also give you better acoustics and help in regulating moisture in your home. Good insulation in your ceilings, floors and walls also mean a smaller heating source is sufficient to heat your home and lower your costs of heating.

Once we are able to contain the heat with insulation, we should also look in to how to create the heat. While some old houses may have multiple open fire places, others have none and are heated with small space heaters. The open fire places are neither efficient nor healthy. And most of the space heaters are not big enough for the rooms they are required to heat. We advocate for putting an efficient and renewable heating source, considering the ever-growing energy costs. With good insulation, a small efficient wood burner or heat pump might be already enough to keep you warm and cozy at home, for a fraction of the cost you paid so far.

Please find out with the energywise link below if you are eligible for a heating grant, covering part of the insulation and heat source costs.