Helping people build healthier homes
When our bodies are exposed to the elements, we can clad ourselves in an oldschool water-resistant fabric blend which prevents moisture passing through from both inside and out, keeping us protected from rain but also not allowing our sweat to escape.
Or we could choose an elevated level of protection with a higher-tech, waterproof, windproof, and breathable membrane, which keeps our bodies protected from the weather, as well as our own sweat.
And the same is true for our homes, says Claudia Kaltenstadler of Harakeke Consultants.
She founded her company after immigrating to New Zealand in 2006, and soon realising many New Zealand homes are mouldy and unhealthy.
Coming from Europe where small and energyefficient homes are the norm, Claudia wanted to make a difference and help Kiwis get into their own healthier, warmer, most cost effective homes.
Weathertightness is a main focus for Harakeke Consultants, and Claudia says the internal and external environments need to be kept separate.
“It’s not only airtightness we want,” she says. “We have such high humidity levels in New Zealand so we need a permeable membrane to make sure the moisture can get out.”
Harakeke Consultants offers advice on every aspect of building sustainable and energy-efficient homes, from foundations to wall panels, different heating resources, solar panels, non-toxic materials, rainwater collection, and everything in between.
“As a truly independent consultant, not associated with anyone in the building or related industries, we can advise and assist our clients every step of the way, focusing only on what is best for them,” Claudia says.
Harakeke Consultants works between its clients and their architect, builder, and suppliers. “In my first consultation with my clients, I only ask questions,” she says.
“I need to know what they want to achieve so I can provide guidance around the best options. “There are a lot of different products available so it can become very overwhelming for new home builders and they don’t know what to choose.
“After our first consultation, I give my clients a manual designed around their needs. We use this to work together with the architect on concept drawings, so they can then get their pricing and go from there.”
She says concept drawings are the best place to start when pricing, because if the budget doesn’t work, they are easier and cheaper to adjust than working drawings.
“Designing and building your own home is a very emotional process,” she says.
“It is usually the biggest thing someone will do in their life and because it represents your dreams, it is incredibly personal.
“My strengths are in eliminating the frustrations, the tears, and sitting down with my clients and their architects to see how we can get our client what they want, and at the same time stick to their budget.”
While Claudia’s ideology was initially met with resistance and people who were misinformed about high performance homes, she has since observed a change in attitude from the building industry and suppliers, who are becoming increasingly appreciative of the innovation of high performance homes and how their businesses can benefit from it, both now and in the future.
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