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Homestar rating ‘an investment’

Homestar rating ‘an investment’
Whangamata builder Luke Baxter says a Homestar rating of 6 or higher provides assurance that a house will be warmer, drier healthier home that costs less to run.

When Whangamata builder Luke Baxter established Beach House Builders Ltd in 2006, at the back of his mind was a growing interest in sustainable building practices.

“I think in those early days there wasn’t the interest there is now, given people thought that to build using sustainable methods would be more costly. Lately, there’s been a lot more interest as people are becoming more environmentally conscious and the overall building costs are comparable to that of a standard home,” Luke says.

He has been a member of the New Zealand Green Building Council for a decade and enjoys attending their regular meetings where he interacts with other like-minded professionals such as designers, architects and other business owners.

Luke is also a credentialled Homestar Practitioner and as such he’s able to assist with design input to achieve a Homestar rating.

Homestar is a comprehensive, independent, national rating tool that rates the health, warmth and efficiency of New Zealand houses. One build about to get underway is being designed by an architect who is also a Homestar Assessor.

Luke explains that using the Homestar rating process takes any guess work out of how to achieve an energy efficient sustainable home. Ratings range from 6 – 10.

A 6 Homestar rating or higher provides assurance that a house will be better quality – warmer, drier, healthier and cost less to run – than a typical new house built to the Building Code.

“On average, if a home is designed and built to attain a Homestar 6 rating it costs between 2-3% more than building just to the basic Building Code which only sets the minimum standards in New Zealand (and these standards are far below world standards).

In saying this I think people need to look at it as an investment rather than an added cost. The house will cost less to run and be healthier to live in. By having a Homestar rating the home owner will have proof of this if or when they decide to sell their house”.

Luke says using the Homestar Rating tool doesn’t add any additional time to a building process. Once a home has been built, an independent assessor will check through the required rating standards to confirm the home meets a particular rating level. Luke employs two qualified carpenters and an apprentice.

He says the apprentice pathway through BCITO works well, with a good balance of theory and practical. With a small team Luke says projects are generally managed one or two builds at a time.

This also ensures a personalised approach and for Luke to maintain direct contact with his clients throughout.

The New Zealand Green Building Council was established in July 2005 and a year later became a member of the World Green Building Council.

Both organisations are not-for-profi t. NZGBC’s vision is to see New Zealanders live work and play in healthy and efficient buildings built in a sustainable way.

“I really enjoy attending the NZ Green Build meetings and find them quite inspirational because everyone attending has the same ideals regarding how they want to build, the sorts of materials they enjoy using and that building is a really conscious process that delivers benefits to owners, the builder and to the environment.”

Luke knows he is very lucky to have an exceptional crew on board and for someone who just enjoys being outside, working in his home-town creating great spaces for people to live in is a real buzz.

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