IDEAL House – New Zealand

Project Goals: Certified Passive House, Positive Energy & 8/10 Homestar design. Proudly supported by IDEAL Electrical Suppliers.

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International Passive House Open Day / Dec Open Home

We are pleased to be opening up The Ideal House for it’s third International Open House day in November. The first year we did the presentation in the garage with just the framing up, last year was when we just moved in, and now after the home has been lived in for over a year. If you are not located in Auckland, have a look at the interactive map on the PHINZ website to see if there is another Passive House open home near you. Click here.

Date: Saturday 14th November

Time: 1-4pm. Guided tours at 1:15pm, 2:15pm, 3:15pm

Address: 23 Reliance Cres, Beachlands, Auckland


If you can’t make this date, our next general open home will be Sunday the 13th of December, 1-3pm, with guided tours at 1:15pm and 2:15pm. Please also RSVP to

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Open Home & Sensor Results

Our next public open home will be this Sunday the 11th of October, 1-3pm.

Tours starting at 1:15pm and 2:15pm. Please RSVP to

We will post additional dates for the next couple of months soon.

We have had our sensors up and running now for a couple of months, and it’s great to see the data for what we’re experiencing in the home. I’m amazed by the low humidity levels compared to outside, and the fact that our Zehnder balanced heat-exchange ventilation system takes care of additional moisture from the bathrooms without any additional (direct) extraction. Humidity primarily is sitting between 50-60% inside, and 70-90% outside.

Temperatures as you would expect are sitting primarily between 20 & 25 degrees C, with some variations when we’re away, or when we occasionally lit the fire over winter. Apart from that, there is no additional heating in the home. The garage is interesting (blue line), as it’s sitting nicely between inside (the thermal envelope) and outside – a good transition area.



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Expert Tour and Open Day

A presentation of the Ideal House is being given as part of The Expert Tour around New Zealand. So far Hamilton and North Shore Auckland have been completed, with loads of great feedback. For future venues for this free event, please refer

Our next open day will be Sunday the 24th of May, from 1-3pm. 23 Reliance Cres, Beachlands, Auckland.

Please RSVP to register your attendance at


Open day Sat 25th April 11am-1pm

We have had a range of tours and visits over the last couple of months from interested parties, and we will post more opening dates on the blog.

Next open day Saturday 25th April, 11am – 1pm.

Please write to to register your interest and for the address.

We’ve had our first cold snap of autumn, and the home is performing beautifully – continuing to hold up above 20 degrees C with no additional heating. We are looking forward to spending our first full winter in the home, and showing it off at a time when you can really experience the performance.

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December 2014 Update

We’ve had a busy few months and this is an update with what’s been happening with our project.

1. International Passive House Open Day

We were fortunate enough to join in for the International Passive House Open day last month, and had around 70+ people through the home. We were run off our feet from around 10am through to about 4pm, with loads of interested people looking to build ‘eco’ and lots of great questions. Thanks for all those who attended, and we’re excited to be part of the inaugural South Pacific Passive House conference in February next year. Details can be found here:


2. New Home Trends Magazine

The Ideal House was recently featured in an 11 page advertorial in Trends Magazine. There has only been a small print run, so copies are hard to find, but we’ve been promised there are plenty on the way! Click here or on the image below to see the online version:



3. Grand Opening in November

With thanks to Westpac, we held a Sustainable Building Networking event at Westpac in town, and we were privileged to have some great guest speakers including Paola Leardini, Senior Lecturer at The University of Auckland, Paula Hugens, owner of eZED, Alex Reiche from Envirospec, and Leigh Featherstone from NZGBC (Homestar).  We also had the architects Stephen and Matt from S3a on hand for questions also. Most then ferried out to the home where we held less formal celebrations, and tours. For many it was their first time to see the completed home. Many thanks to Catherine Langabeer from Westpac who organized most of the day for us, as well as the informative signage now posted around the home.

Paola Leardini

Dr Paola Leardini, Senior Lecturer from The University of Auckland, presenting on Passive Houses.


“The Panel” for question time. From left, Alex Reiche (EnviroSpec), Leigh Featherstone (NZGBC/Homestar), Paula Hugens (eZED), Dr Paola Leardini (The University of Auckland/PHINZ), and us, Lee Ann and Murray Durbin.

Catherine Langabeer

Catherine Langabeer who organized most of the opening event for us. Catherine is Westpac’s Senior Manager Sustainability, Corporate Affairs.


5. Signage

As mentioned above, with the support of Westpac The Ideal House now has over thirty A3 and A4 signs mounted around the home, detailing all the products and systems that went into the project, as well as specific signage around Positive Energy Homes, Homestar, and Passive Houses. This will allow for a self-learning journey, suitable for young adults and upwards, if we are unable to give personal tours. The home is perfectly setup for school or University groups, and work-sheets can be easily created. We have also built models of the wall, floor, and ceiling systems in the garage, so you can see and touch all the components that went into this high performance home.


photo 1

4. Photovoltaic (PV) commissioning

After finally getting our (brand new) meter, removed and replaced with an import/export meter (there has to be a more efficient way), Power Tech were able to commission the PV system. We’re now live! We don’t have any high-tech monitoring setup yet, but we will be able to keep tabs on production on-line on our smart-phones in due course. In the mean-time we have been taking manual readings (in kW) from around the same time in the evening as follows. The numbers read in order; IMPORT (what we’re having to buy from the grid), and EXPORT (surplus we’re able to sell). We’re on average exporting 80% more (nearly twice) than what we’re importing, but it is early days. We also need to determine how much of this power the car is consuming. Unfortunately at the new lowered rates (dropped from around 15c to 8c per kW buy-back) it looks as though we’ll still have a power bill to pay. A case of bad timing, a deregulated power industry, and a Government which doesn’t support domestic electricity production as a method to eliminate the need for coal and gas power plants in New Zealand. It would be so easy for NZ to bridge the gap, and get 100% of New Zealand’s power produced from renewable resources. In any case, here are the initial readings, which include charging our Mitsubishi PHEV Outlander:

19/11/14, 2kW vs 26kW (no car charge)

20/11/14, 17kW vs 28kW

21/11/14, 16kW vs 36kW

22/11/14, 22kW vs 34kW

23/11/14, 18kW vs 30kW

28/11/14, 18kW vs 31kW

29/11/14, 10kW vs 26kW

30/11/14, 27kW vs 22kW

1/12/14, 13kW vs 30kW



Our meter box. 2 Phase, in case we charge the car and run the oven at the same time. We can toggle through the menu to see various screens, including total Import and Export kW.


Our main switch board.


One of the two Kaco Inverters in the plant room (along with the ventilation system), changing the power from DC to AC so we can use in the home (and export), and the monitoring box (bottom) connected to our data-hub, which will supply us real-time production data, accessible from anywhere.


The import/export meter, showing the current export reading.


5. The Living Green Show, Filming

The Ideal House was selected for the first episode of a brand new TV show, called The Living Green Show. The Living Green Show will be broadcast on Choice (free to air) early 2015. We spent half a day filming, but it’s hard to compress a 2-3 year project into 8 minutes, particularly when you have to showcase sponsors products! We hope however that it will raise the overall profile of the project, and people are able to do further research.


6. The gardens

We’ve only been in a few months, but are already reaping the rewards from our gardens;

What’s ready now? Lettuce, courgettes, strawberries, boysenberries, bok choy, spinach, coriander, parsley, mint and basil.

What’s on the way? Tomatoes, cucumbers, plum, feijoa’s, apple, and various citrus have all set. Beatroot, carrots and potatoes are all doing great. Fig tree has burst into life, but we’ve yet to see it flower.










And finally we are planning two more open days before now and Christmas, so we’ll be posting dates and times soon for those that would like to take a tour this year.



For the kids

We have just completed an external and internal photo shoot for an 11 page feature in Trends Magazine, due out this month. Yes, 11 pages! We can’t wait to see it in print! Keep a look out for it in the shops soon.

We worked furiously to get the home ready, which actually forced us to get the home mostly prepared for the grand opening being firmed up early November. We’re looking to host a networking event with industry presentations at Westpac in town, and then ferry out to the house for a tour and a toast. Please write to us if you are interested in attending, and would like an invitation once the details are firmed up. We’re also working with Westpac to get signage prepared for the garage and around the house to make it as educational as possible and share our learnings over the past 2-3 years.

Our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is performing beautifully, even if we haven’t got the solar panels commissioned yet, so it’s being charged off the grid not locally. We’re not going to want to give it back! A contractor from Contact Energy turned up yesterday to finally install the import/export meter (after 9 weeks of waiting), only to realise that Contact gave him the wrong meter…so we start over again. David Firth from Power Technology sent me the best email in a long time when he found out…“(Smack), that was the sound of my hand hitting my head.”

I can’t emphasise just how amazing the home is to live in, and when I see the kids running around in t-shirts and shorts, warm and comfortable when it’s blustery and freezing outside is amazing. I know that there are 5:1 healthcare payback ratios for insulating cold houses, and something of this stable temperature and air-quality must be even higher. What price do you put on the health and well-being of your children? Every time I look at them in the home I just smile, and realise that this journey was more for them, than it was for us. The challenge is to now influence mainstream building in NZ (which to be honest, is mediocre at best) – for everyone else’s kids.

The last of the natives and the amazing selection of food producing plants from Incredible Edibles (Tharfield Nursary) will get planted this weekend, weather (and birthday celebrations) permitting. Then we have to tackle the greenhouse assembly… We will hold off posting more pictures until the Trends magazine has circulated (a professional with a wide angle lens makes it look so much better), however a couple of amateur teaser shots follow;








(Yes, there’s a cover missing from the left of our 32-amp Juicepoint which we’re getting shortly).



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Final Blower Door & eZED paper

We’ve been living in the Ideal House now for a couple of weeks, and although we don’t have elaborate monitoring equipment setup yet, we’ve been sitting around 22-23 degrees day and night with no heating. The air quality is superb and the home is so quiet it drowns most of the world outside out. Needless to say we love it! We have lit a sneaky fire a few times, and enjoyed the extra ambiance it offers on a cold day.

Denise from eZED in Queenstown came up last week and completed the final blower door test for Passive House Certification, and we hit around 0.45 air changes per hour, at 50 pascals, so we smashed the target of 0.6. Celebrations all round!

Paula and Denise from eZED have recently completed a great paper for the Building a Better NZ conference, and if you’re interested in eco or energy efficient building it’s a must read!

Download by clicking on this link, or the image below : BBNZ14-Hugens-Henkenhaf

paper image


Although we’re still waiting on Contact Energy to get our power connection live and then our PV connection sorted (yes, over 7 weeks now for what should be a simple change), we hope to be able to get our PV panels connected and working soon. Such as waste to have them sitting there doing nothing! Our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a delight to drive, and we’re getting about 30-35kms on a full charge before the petrol motor kicks in (and then works like a hybrid). Although it only costs a couple of dollars per charge, it will be even sweeter once we’re using free power from the sun.

The landscaping is in the final stages of being completed, aiming for our 25% coverage of natives, 90% permeability as per our Homestar targets, as well as all the fruit trees and veggie gardens. Paths, lawn and fences are now all in, and most of the planting. We have a photo shoot for Trends coming up in a few days, and are planning for our Grand Opening and Networking Event mid October, which will be hosted by Westpac. Contact to register interest to attend. We should have some great photos early next week once the home is staged and ready, but a few snaps over the past couple of weeks below (prior to the most of the plantings which are now in).



Our landscaper Tyrell & team working on the new lawn.



A shot of the front of the house.


Down the Eastern side, fruit trees/clothesline/EcoSpring hot water cylinder


Some of the many fruit trees going in (before grass)



Our “urban orchard”


 Looking from the lounge, through the dining are to the kitchen.