With the theme of “Healthy Homes”, the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors (NZIBS) March Training Day was a complete success thanks to General Manager, Sally Dunbar, the sponsors and the speakers.
Attendees were treated to exceptional presentations from speakers about their expertise on what makes a healthy home.
The presentations revealed New Zealand’s legacy of substandard homes, not just in the rental market, but in general. Building standards have been too low for too long.
Following the presentations were robust discussions between presenters and attendees, who all concluded that the task of transforming New Zealand’s poor housing stock into healthy homes involves more than insulating the ceiling and floors.
Insulating the ceiling and floors is a starting point, but as one speaker declared “If I am going out in the cold, I am going to wear more than a woolly hat and warm boots. I am also going to wear warm pants, gloves and a coat.”
This can be reflected in housing, as there is little point in stopping the heat leaving the top and below when it can dissipate out through poorly insulated walls and single glazed windows.
It’s our children that really suffer from this. Rates of rheumatism and other similar health issues are high because of cold and overcrowded houses.
Building surveyors providing reports on residential properties can make large contributions to improving housing standards. They understand how homes can function in a way that provides a healthier environment for the occupants.
They know the required balance between heating, insulation, ventilation and moisture control. The four key factors of a healthy home.
But there is also a fifth component to a healthy home, maintenance. Using heating and ventilation equipment is required, this is normal maintenance.
Sadly, many families feel they cannot afford to run heating equipment in their homes, so the heater is not turned on. Many don’t know that the air in the house also needs replacing with fresh air. They don’t open their windows because that will let in the cold air.
This is understandable during long cold spells where there is no sun to warm up the house during the day and it is not affordable for many families to keep the house warm.
This is at the heart of the problem, along with overcrowding. Both issues relate to high house and rental prices.
To achieve healthy homes throughout New Zealand, these problems need to be overcome, and this will be no easy task.