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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We’re in! (August 2014)

After several years of planning, 2 years of renting, and 11 months of building we’re finally in! It took a bit longer and cost a bit more than we expected, but we got there in the end. Thanks to everyone’s support who has helped along the way.

We don’t have any monitoring equipment in yet, but using an old-school thermometer we’re sitting around that 20 degree mark with no heating, and 23-24 when we light the fire (and holding for a very long time). The Zhender ventilation is in and working, however it needs to be commissioned. There are some small areas around the house yet to complete, such as mounting mirrors in bathrooms, and the landscaping is probably half finished but due to be completed soon. The home is extremely pleasant to live in, and incredibly quiet. The PV panels are in, and the inverters got mounted yesterday (thanks to Ideal Electrical and PowerTech), but we now have to wait 3-4 weeks for our connection to be approved (and import/export meter) now we have our permanent mains meter.

We are also pleased to be trialling a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, thanks to Mitsubishi motors – and this will be charged from the Juicepoint in the garage. It’s a beautiful machine, and we’ll be uploading information and pictures in a few weeks.

We’re heading away for a few days of well earned rest, before finishing up the house and staging it for the grand opening in September, then moving onto regular open days.

Murray & Lee Ann

PS – Here’s a photo of a happy & warm kid:

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Kitchens & Joinery

We’re pleased to have completed and ordered our kitchens and joinery from Tang Ming Kitchens in East Tamaki, Auckland. Our designer and salesperson JoJo has been amazing to deal with, and they are exceptional value for money. Going well they will be installed in about 4 weeks (mid July).

Tang Ming Kitchens will be manufacturing and installing the kitchen, scullery, laundry, kids work desk, storage and all wardrobes.

The kitchen will be featuring Hafele hardware and an Elica “Skin” rangehood (trying to decide between the black or stainless), a KRUSHR trash compactor and Insinkerator from Parex, as well as a Villeroy & Boch kitchen sink, and Grohe tapware from Paterson. As the rangehood won’t be ducting outside due to the air-tight home, we’ve had to chose a model that can recirculate and has both carbon/charcoal and grease filters, so we don’t get any nasties into the Zhender ventilation system as well as reducing any cooking odors. Appliances are F&P fridge and 900mm freestanding induction oven, and BOSCH dishwasher.

We’ve just seen the samples of the Caeserstone “Atlantic Salt” bench top we’ve ordered from Laminex, and love it! It’s being formed into a 60mm thick bench, with waterfalls at all ends.

All the designs and 3D’s are here, or click on the image below:

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Welcome Westpac

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Just a short post today, but an important one. We are pleased to welcome Westpac bank into our fold of supporters for The Ideal House.

Following 9 months of poor service from our previous bank, and an unnecessary number of stage valuations and stress, we have just completed a full refinance less than a month from approaching them. After being told from a mortgage broker that Westpac are the best bank to build with, how right they were! Westpac were also voted the world’s most sustainable company (read here), and their enthusiasm to support leading-edge construction in New Zealand is fantastic.

 


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May update

We’re now 8 months into the build, and on the home stretch. We’re desperately trying to complete by the end of June, but have to be prepared that the completion date will slip into July.

In the last month the pre-wiring has been completed by AWS/Tradepartners, the second layer of Earthwool® glasswool insulation has been installed, as well as the lower sections in the bottom of all ground level frames (to insulate above the bottom plate). We’ve found every possible gap around each window and between framing and stuffed insulation into every hole we can access. We have also insulated the midfloor and most internal walls for acoustics.

We are connecting to fibre from the street, and the home has been smart wired with CAT4 and CAT6 cables, plus specific areas where we can mount wireless transmiters. We’ve also wired for a home alarm, indoor and outdoor camera/security, entry intercom as well as sensors wherever practical, such as wardrobes, hallways and bathrooms. All the exterior lights of the home will be on sensors to save power, and fulfil Homestar requirements.

The rondo steel sections have been installed, adding a 100mm false ceiling between the I-Beams and the plasterboard both downstairs and upstairs. Through this space we’re running services such as ventilation ducting and wiring. If we were building this in the lower South Island, we could have used the opportunity to add another layer of insulation – however as we’re in Auckland and we already have R5.2 in the ceiling we have left this space as-is.

We have built a low retaining wall down the Western boundary, which is remedial work to where the original earthworks cut on the boundary, as well as creating a feature area around the main patio. We’ve created two returns from the wall to frame in an area which will have a fire-pit over pebbles. We have used Firth Country Manor, and it has come up amazing. We can’t wait to finish the hard landscaping and move onto the planting. We will be using Firth permeable pavers on the driveway and paths around the house to maintain 90% permeability of the site and reduce the impact on the public stormwater, as well as the fact we’re collecting all the water off the roof.

The plasterboard and James Hardie Villaboard® fibre cement linings are probably 60% installed, and the interior should be completely lined in the next week. We have chosen fibre cement sheet in all the high traffic and wet areas, including the garage, hallways, kids room, and both bathrooms. Like any new home, when the linings are installed you can finally get a feeling of the room spaces and how it’s going to look plastered and painted. The photos don’t do the spaces justice unfortunately, and the amazing spaces that S3 Architects have created will probably have to be experienced first hand. The home will be open regularly for viewings for two years once completed.

The garage door has been installed, finally closing in and securing the home completely. We installed a defender insulated garage door, which has 40mm foam-filled panels and seals around the outside. The foam panels absorb noise so you don’t get the tinny ‘rattling’, and they will assist to keen the room warmer. The garage is insulated above the building code (and doors/windows are still triple glazed) but it is not part of the air-tight home, and technically outside the main thermal envelope. With no heating source, and minimal leakage from the home itself it will slowly cool to the outdoor temperature, but at least it will be a transition to outside. The door from the house to the garage is like any other door on the home, fully sealed and air-tight. The wall between the house and garage is still around R4.2.

Wally, The Fireplace Technician, has been working furiously to install the fireplace from Belgium and get it 100% air-tight to Passive House standards, as well as fully insulating the flue. He’s had to make a range of custom fittings and it’s great to see a real craftsman at work. As mentioned previously, the fireplace is for ambience only, as the home will maintain 20 degrees all year with no forms of heating.

We are also lucky to have some assistance from BOSCH to help us get into a set of appliances to match the home, and we have taken early delivery of a washing machine, dryer, and an integrated dishwasher. These appliances look more like space-ships than white-wear, and perform closely as well! We have chosen a 6/6 star heat pump dryer which will run on an oily rag (actually the sun’s power) as well as a washing machine with a 5/6 star water rating as we’re on water-tanks. Photos in the album below on their maiden voyage tonight!

We have taken delivery of 90% of the Philips lights, photos below. Every light in the home will be LED, and we will be showcasing a wide range of their fixtures.

Click here or on the image below for updated photos and comments from the end of April and early May. We even have some ‘people’ shots this time, not just of the house! Below are the owners, Murray & Lee Ann Durbin taking in the high stud!

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Passive House Academy, 13th May (on-site)

Kara Rosemeier from the Passive House Academy will be running a seminar in the mostly completed home on the 13th of May, from 6:30-8pm.

More information can be found here:

http://www.passivehouseacademy.ac.nz/content/ph1-passive-house-nutshell

and the enroll page is here:

http://www.passivehouseacademy.ac.nz/content/enrolment

If you’re wanting a good introduction to Passive Houses from an expert, and get a sneak peak of the home in its final finishing stages, we would recommend coming!

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April update

We’ve had quite a few tradesmen on site over the past month, and here’s an update of progress:

1. All the flashings and guttering has now been installed, and the downpipes are being connected to the two 25,000 Litre water tanks later today. This will be well received, as we’ve been accumulating extra water around the site, and some unplanned run-off to the neighbours.

2. The exterior of the home has been 95% painted with Dulux paints, and all the scaffolding has now come down, making the home seem almost complete from the outside.

3. The solar panels have now all been wired up by Toby from Power Technology, and are ready to connect to the two inverters which will now be placed in the upstairs plant/storage room along side the Zhender ventilation system. The inverters can heat up to 80 degrees and need a clear space around them and ventilation. Brad from Efficient Air is adding in another extraction point from the plant room (to the Zhender), so we can either re-use this energy and circulate it through the home on cooler days, or on hot days use the summer bypass (around the heat exchanger) and ‘dump’ the extra energy outside.

4. The wiring by AWS & Tradepartners is almost complete, and the balance of the data and security from Ideal Electrical should be finished this week. AWS have laid a main trunk ducting line down the centre of the home and then branched off from this point. The trench for the main line from the road (grid-tied PV system) is being dug this afternoon, and Chorus will also be installing the fibre optic connection (for our Orcon connection) down that trench tomorrow. We’ve chosen all of our LED lights from Philips and should be taking delivery of these soon. We’ll go through and detail each fitting later.

5. Our landscaper will be starting to install the Firth Country Manor retaining wall down the Western side of the boundary next week, and then when the rest of the building supplies are moved off the site into the home, he can start working on the rest of the section. He will also be installing all our patios, and permeable pavers for the driveways, and raised veggie gardens.

6. The plumbing by AllGo for pre-lining has all been completed, including our in-wall Villeroy & Boch cisterns, bath, as well as the Grohe shower and bath mixers. It will be great to have a bath again for the kids! Something we’ve missed renting for the past 2 years while we worked on this project.

7. The builders have now installed all the 50mm horrizontal battens on all the exterior walls, and are due to install all the Hume Doors in the next week. These were supplied via Cowdroy (cavity sliders) and Doorways for the standard pre-hung doors. Most of the doors are 2.4m high, and solid core to control noise.

8. The ducting for the Beam central vac system is mostly finished, and will be completed once the flooring system gets laid (after plasterboard lining).

9. Lastly, the Rondo ceiling system should be delivered this week, and then installed by the team at Apex Ceilings next week. At the same time, they’ll place R2.8 insulation in the bottom of all internal walls (touching the concrete) as well as the 2nd layer of 50mm Earthwool(r) glasswool insulation between the battens on all the exterior walls. We hope to have all the plasterboard lining up within the next 2-3 weeks. Then we can move onto stopping.

10. We have now completed three blower door tests, thanks to Jon from pro clima and Andy Ong from PHINZ. Andy has completed two tests for us, and thanks to the help from John at Tech Rentals and the loan of a thermal camera, we stayed up late one night and tried to find every hole in the air-tightness layer we could. I’ll post some more images of the thermal photos once I can convert them. We found weaknesses where we had missed joining the intello, where the tape wasn’t pushed firm enough against the membrane, weak points around windows, and where the Intello had been left for some months in the weather and been compromised. We also found areas where tradesmen had cut through the intello (for wires etc.) and fixed these up. We’re sitting around 0.5 air changes per hour at 50 pascals under positive pressure, and 0.6 for negative pressure, and are aiming to get this down to under 0.5 for both once all the Rondo ceiling system has been installed (providing extra support to the Intello under negative pressure).

11. We’re having some issues installing our Bodart & Gonay fireplace from Belgium, and the fire technician will try one more time to seal and insulate the flue, as we had isolated this during our blower door testing. The fireplace is for ambiance, and after those cold winter days down on the sports field (not for general heating), as we won’t need a heating appliance in the home. If we can’t get it working, we’ll need to remove and sell it to someone that wants to either install it in a masonry chimney (in a Passive House) or for a normal home, and then we’ll replace it with a small bio-fuel fire that doesn’t require a flue.

Click here or on the image below for some updated photos:

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Early March

We’ve had an exciting couple of weeks. The 32 Photovoltaic (PV) panels have now been installed by the team at Power Technology, and the exterior of the home is nearly painted. We’ve gone from a light green home, to a beige home, to now striking grey and white. Scaffolding is due to come down next Friday and then the exterior is going to look pretty much complete.

The internal Intello air-tightness membrane is almost installed, and we’re making final adjustments to the sealing of the ventilation and the windows this week, before we aim for our first blower door test hopefully end of next week. Once we’re confident we’re well under the 0.6 air changes per hour (at 50 pascals) in order to give us room for error later, we can start installing the services (electrical and plumbing) and then the second layer of Earthwool glasswool insulation on 50mm horrizontal battens.

Click here to see current pictures (or on either of the images below):

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Insulation, cladding & windows

The team from Apex Ceilings have spent the last few days furiously installing the significant amount of Earthwool® glasswool insulation. They have installed the R5.2 ceiling sections right across the roof, between the 900mm spaced I-beams. Also the R2.8 90mm into the walls – of which they will come back later and install the R1.4 50mm Earthwool® glasswool on the horrizontal battens, and they have installed some of the R2.2 90mm in the internal walls, used for acoustic blocking. We will try and keep as many services out of the external walls, but where we have to we will run them through this service cavity. They have almost finished insulated the garage (outside the thermal envelope, but we’re using code-levels of insulation and off-cuts to add some protection). We plan to be installing the Intello membrane from pro clima later next week, and then our first blower-door pressure testing which will be a huge milestone for the project.

The cladding is now going ahead with great speed, and the James Hardie Scyon® Stria® vertical cladding, is being added to the Scyon® Linea® weatherboards which have already been installed. We should be completely clad in the next week, and have just ordered the Dulux paint, and booked out painter in. The PV panels will be installed during this time, and then all the scaffolding can come down and the home will look complete from the outside.

Click here or on the photo below to see updated photos.

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Windows & Doors (Feb ’14)

We are extremely pleased to finally have our triple glazed windows and doors being installed. Although we had to wait for these to arrive from Europe, the quality of them is incredible and the five point locking mechanisms pull the windows back solid into their frames. We also love how they can tilt forward, or open right up. In keeping with European norms, all the doors open out, and all the windows open in. We’ve opted for an extra foil on the outside of the uPVC which looks like brushed aluminium.

The last of the doors will be finished tomorrow, and then on Monday the large sloping windows and the large window in the master bedroom will be put in place by old-school rope and pully. We decided not to bring a crane onto site and the team at Warm Windows have been practising setting up the rigging and manoeuvring them in the factory before they try for real on site on Monday. Then they have a couple of days of fine-tuning and installing hardware on site before it’s all completed. We’ve master-keyed all the doors so a single key will work all around the house. The frosted finish in the bathrooms and entranceway is quite different to anything we’ve seen locally, and it diffuses the light amazingly well into the rooms, almost glowing.

Once we’re water-tight we can start the inside trades with earnest, and we’ll be installing significant amounts of Earthwool® glasswool insulation later next week, then the pro clima ‘intello’ wrap, and then our air pressure test (blower door) for Passive House compliance (less than 0.6 air-changes per hour at 50 pascals). Of course the team at AWS Electrical will be doing as much of the internal wiring as possible and they will also be putting the cables in for the solar panels next week. Power Technology have been on site this week installing all the brackets to hold the PV panels, which are due for installation on the 24th of February. The lighting designers from Ideal Electrical Nugent St have been finalising the lighting plan which will be featuring a wide range of Philips lights, and we’ll be getting samples to site early next week and checking them all before signing it off.

Click here or on the image below for the latest pictures.

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