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Thread: Lets please explain what is so wrong with the houses in NZ

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Default Lets please explain what is so wrong with the houses in NZ

    Hi everyone. Yes I am fully aware of the search feature, and yes I know everything I might want to ask has been posted before. But hey, that is what forums are for. Live, in the moment conversation. SO I have read many posts about the housing. There are endless posts. I wat to try to FOCUS this post on as a newcomer to NZ what to look for in a house SPECIFICALLY:
    1. What is a "damp"/"cold" house?
    2. How do you know if a house is damp or cold? What are the key elements to look for in a house or apartment that indicates it will be damp and/or cold?
    In looking online I see some houses have cinderblock painted walls! lol, and I KNOW THAT is a cold damp house! But what I need to know, is how do oyu avoid the disguised cold/damp houses?
    3. What type of heating is the most desirable in a unit for rent. I have read about heatpump and how the consensus seems to be you have to have one, bu I am still very confused as to what it is. Here in the US in my city electric is 18Cents kwh and I see it is about 26 cents there. We avoid electric heat like the plague, except for maybe a space heater to sleep with. Gas or propane is preferred. Oil burning stoves used to be good, but this year oil has been outrageous.
    4. Lastly, what is the scoop on the anti pet thing! Holy crap! Only 10% of the posts say pets OK or negotiable. Are people receptive if you speak to them? Make alot of money? Agree to add a lease amendment stating professional cleaning and flea treatment will be done when you move out?

    I would like to add that the rents on houses and apartments is amazingly high! WOW! I mean WOW WOW WOW. And we expect to be making 95-120K and I am still thinking WOW. But, it is what it is, I am already almost over it. When it bothers me I will go outside and breath n the air, look around, ring up a new friend, walk my dog and NOT have to carry a gun with me everywhere I go and then I won;t care anymore.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    1. A "damp" house is one where condensation occurs inside. If you've ever lived or stayed in the coastal region of California and experienced the way, in winter, windows get drippy and wet you'll be familiar with this. The way to deal with it is the same, dehumidifier or wiping them down. Mould can build up quite quickly on the window panes and sills. Many houses here are similar to the houses built in the 50's and 60's in California. They have little insulation, aluminum frame, single glazed windows and no central heating. It is common for Kiwis to prefer their house temperatures on the colder side. I've been to many a house in the middle of winter where the windows are wide open.

    2. A cinderblock wall house can be cold and damp but not necessarily. I live in a house with cinderblocks and so do my in-laws. They have double glazed windows and HRV so they don't get condensation. Their house is colder than ours because they have a house that is more spread out than ours. Like my house, they don't have central heating but my logburner heats both up and down stairs because my house is a big square. The in-laws house is more like a "ranch" house because you go down a few stairs to the bedrooms on the side of the house. So, a house that is more compact is much easier to keep warm with a logburner.

    You'll hear "north" facing houses are warmer. In general, what this means is that in the winter, the sun is quite low in the sky in the north and, in theory, if your house is facing north, it will be in the sun most of the day. This works very well in my house as we have nothing impeding the direct winter sun. The bedrooms and lounge in our house are in the corner of the house that faces north. In winter, our house holds heat very well because we have this added source of warmth during the day. I make sure to light the fire early, before it gets cold so as to maintain this natural heat. We have a lot of doors in our house that allow us to close off entire sections that are much colder and direct the warm air where we want it. A friend of mine, living in a house in town that doesn't have cinderblocks and has double glazed windows has to heat her house more often than we do because, although her house is in the north part of her section, the trees and hillside limit the amount of winter sun she gets. She also doesn't have many interior doors and she can't close off the cold back of the house like I can. But her house warms up faster. My house, once it's cold, if I let that fire go out or don't light it before the sun sets, it takes ages for the house to warm up.

    3. A heat pump is a heater on the wall that blows warm air out. We don't use ours because it costs way too much for us to use. We have occasionally used a space heater but even that costs us too much. We use a logburner, hot water bottles for the kids beds, and extra blankets. I'm sure someone here will be able to tell you which heat pumps and heaters are the most efficient.

    My first two winters here, I wore double socks, long johns, and mittens to bed. I've got the hang of how to keep this house warm now and am more acclimatised so I don't have to do that any more!

    4. People who say "no pets" in adverts might still allow it if you offer them extra deposit, rent, etc...

    Many houses are in a dreadful state of repair so make sure you see the house in person before renting anything long term.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    U.S.A
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    26

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    Quote Originally Posted by kiwieagle View Post
    1. A "damp" house is one where condensation occurs inside. If you've ever lived or stayed in the coastal region of California and experienced the way, in winter, windows get drippy and wet you'll be familiar with this. The way to deal with it is the same, dehumidifier or wiping them down. Mould can build up quite quickly on the window panes and sills. Many houses here are similar to the houses built in the 50's and 60's in California. They have little insulation, aluminum frame, single glazed windows and no central heating. It is common for Kiwis to prefer their house temperatures on the colder side. I've been to many a house in the middle of winter where the windows are wide open.

    2. A cinderblock wall house can be cold and damp but not necessarily. I live in a house with cinderblocks and so do my in-laws. They have double glazed windows and HRV so they don't get condensation. Their house is colder than ours because they have a house that is more spread out than ours. Like my house, they don't have central heating but my logburner heats both up and down stairs because my house is a big square. The in-laws house is more like a "ranch" house because you go down a few stairs to the bedrooms on the side of the house. So, a house that is more compact is much easier to keep warm with a logburner.

    You'll hear "north" facing houses are warmer. In general, what this means is that in the winter, the sun is quite low in the sky in the north and, in theory, if your house is facing north, it will be in the sun most of the day. This works very well in my house as we have nothing impeding the direct winter sun. The bedrooms and lounge in our house are in the corner of the house that faces north. In winter, our house holds heat very well because we have this added source of warmth during the day. I make sure to light the fire early, before it gets cold so as to maintain this natural heat. We have a lot of doors in our house that allow us to close off entire sections that are much colder and direct the warm air where we want it. A friend of mine, living in a house in town that doesn't have cinderblocks and has double glazed windows has to heat her house more often than we do because, although her house is in the north part of her section, the trees and hillside limit the amount of winter sun she gets. She also doesn't have many interior doors and she can't close off the cold back of the house like I can. But her house warms up faster. My house, once it's cold, if I let that fire go out or don't light it before the sun sets, it takes ages for the house to warm up.

    3. A heat pump is a heater on the wall that blows warm air out. We don't use ours because it costs way too much for us to use. We have occasionally used a space heater but even that costs us too much. We use a logburner, hot water bottles for the kids beds, and extra blankets. I'm sure someone here will be able to tell you which heat pumps and heaters are the most efficient.

    My first two winters here, I wore double socks, long johns, and mittens to bed. I've got the hang of how to keep this house warm now and am more acclimatised so I don't have to do that any more!

    4. People who say "no pets" in adverts might still allow it if you offer them extra deposit, rent, etc...

    Many houses are in a dreadful state of repair so make sure you see the house in person before renting anything long term.

    Okay,
    So I have noticed something that seems to be the "norm" in most Kiwi homes. The lack of cupboards in the kitchen...Even in the house I am in the process of purchasing lacks kitchen cupboards. I find it an interesting difference between U.S. kitchens and Kiwi kitchens.
    I was told by my realtor that an HRV system is a very nice addition to a home...From what I have read I would have to agree and am glad I am not paying for the extra expense. I am also grateful for the wood burning stove in the main living room, I can already tell you that will be where everyone huddles in the evenings...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Hawke's Bay -New Zealand
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    Heat pumps are not all that they are cracked up to be, the running of them can be real expensive and more so if not installed properly.We have diesel fired central heating, but seldom use it because of the cost of diesel these days.
    Have been using gas heaters now for a few years and we enjoy the warm constant heat.
    In the winter I draw the drapes when the sun goes down, that way any heat that has come in during the day, stays in.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    California to Tasman Bay
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadchenMarie View Post
    Okay,
    So I have noticed something that seems to be the "norm" in most Kiwi homes. The lack of cupboards in the kitchen...Even in the house I am in the process of purchasing lacks kitchen cupboards.
    Is it a lack of cupboards you're noticing or a lack of cupboards above the bench (counter)? Kiwi kitchens often have one big "pantry" type cupboard. I've never seen a house with no kitchen cupboards.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Chch, NZ
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    2,189

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    1. What is a "damp"/"cold" house?
    You will find NZ houses (even newly built ones) are far colder in winter than your central heated house in America. The notion that houses in winter have their windows open is to rid the condensation out. Use of a dehumidifier isn't common as they eat power much the same way as a air conditioning unit on heat mode.

    2. How do you know if a house is damp or cold? What are the key elements to look for in a house or apartment that indicates it will be damp and/or cold?
    You should be wise to walk in and experience the house to see the cold and dampness. In an open home last week for a house 10 years old, I could not believe how cold it was inside (we're in Christchurch). The second you step foot in the house, the coldness hits you. The 4 bedroom house didn't have much north facing windows (where sun shines the most) and the ceilings were riddled with recessed ceiling lights (holes in the ceiling where heat escapes). The central heating system use had heat registers in every room of the house. When the heating isn't operating, all the heat escapes quickly through those vents.

    3. What type of heating is the most desirable in a unit for rent.
    Without a doubt, air sourced heat pumps (which is basically an air conditioning unit operating in reverse; to produce heat). They operate on a COP factor that if 1 kW of electricity is used, then 2 - 5 kW of heating energy is produce inside the house. The notion that heat pumps use a lot of electricity has more to do with the comfort level people get accustomed to; they leave these units on for many hours in the day and they expect the heating to circulated throughout the whole house. They get spoiled and instead of just heating 1 room, they want the heat to travel into the next room. (newly built houses i've seen, I see these heat pumps installed in the hallways, in the living rooms, in areas that don't really serve to heat bedrooms).

    4. Lastly, what is the scoop on the anti pet thing!
    Pets can do a lot of damage to houses such as cat pee soaked into the carpet underlays and flooring. Nearly impossible to rid.

  7. #7
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    Dec 2013
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    New Zealand
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    Thanks so much. I typed out this nice reply tot he posting, with follow-ups posted it and it never showed up. I am confused this is a test

  8. #8
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    Dec 2013
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    OH sure now it works! OK thanks everyone I will definitely be printing this out and using it. Follow ups: What are gas heaters? Like gas line heat to the rooms or stand alone gas heaters and what type of gas? Propane or natural? The information on heat pumps was great, they sound cool but way less cost saving than wood burners. I will certainly be looking for a North facing house without obstructions, with double glazed windows, lots of doors, a woodburner and allows pets! We lived int he Upper Penninsula of Michigan for years in the bitter cold, and used only wood for heating and cooking, it was the best. Here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where we live now we hang curtains to block off the rooms and only heat the room we are using so I think I will make the transition pretty well. thanks again.

  9. #9
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    1. A "damp" house is one where condensation occurs inside.
    Condensation can occur in any house if the temperature between the inside and outside is too great AND which causes the air inside the house to fall to a dew point of moisture ; notably on cold surfaces like windows). Ridding the condensation is easily done by heating the air. Though since electricity is so expensive in NZ, the idea of heating the whole house (like they do in N. America) is not economical.

    It's worthy to know that NZ houses do not have air tight construction in design. They're very drafty and when you have a house that is drafty, a huge % of heating simply escapes the house. The NZ residential design code must allow for breathable walls. That is the walls must be able to rid moisture from the inside to the outside. Very different to the N. American concept.

    Those that have mentioned about HRV & condensation, it's crucial to read the following studies: (they are VERY relevant to houses in the south island).

    http://www.warmandcool.co.nz/hrv.htm
    http://www.communityenergy.org.nz/ho...dback-welcome/

    The only worthy system of HRV/DVS in a living envelope is a 'balanced system'. However, this requires utmost care in assuring houses are air tight (which the NZ building industry has little experience).

    Even in the house I am in the process of purchasing lacks kitchen cupboards. I find it an interesting difference between U.S. kitchens and Kiwi kitchens.
    The difference is very clear. NZ kitchen joinery has lots of influence from Europe and very little from America. They're opposite extremes. Houses in the US are extremely large compared to Europe. Now as for the cupboard situation, this is more to do with a change in trend. Many NZ houses built in the 60s and 70s do have cupboard cabinetry above the island countertop or above the stove etc. But if you look at modern houses today, all that has been removed to reveal clean lines with less ceiling clutter. You will also noticed the absence of twin large sinks which is the standard in any N. American kitchen.

    Now as i've been told in another posting, it's all a matter of preference. But to myself, I think it's a lot to do with a lack of critical thinking or cost. House 4 doors down just sold at auction for $685,000 (4 bedroom 230sqm size house built 3 years ago) and the kitchen fixtures and joinery were minimal as you would see in a rental house. No soft closing drawers, poorly joined laminated tops, no water supply tap for the fridge, light switches in an awkward place. The house 3 years ago would of only costed $480,000 including the land.

  10. #10
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    What are gas heaters? Like gas line heat to the rooms or stand alone gas heaters and what type of gas? Propane or natural? The information on heat pumps was great, they sound cool but way less cost saving than wood burners.
    Gas heaters come in 2 forms. The permanently installed units (ie fireplace or boiler) and the portable gas heaters (which IMO a fire hazard). Some houses (residential areas) have reticulated LPG (propane) into the house (that his permanently hooked up to a central gas supply. More common is houses with large 45kg LPG bottles to serve as fireplace heating and gas cooking. I'm not aware of any natural gas supply in NZ. Just remember that LPG is the same as propane or in kiwi slang, 'rock gas'.

    The cheapest form of heating is wood burner. But most major cities are promoting clean air so new houses have a tougher time getting approval for wood burners.

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