These guidelines will help you to save money, build a
healthier house and reduce your impact on the environment.
DESIGNING YOUR HOME Left over paints become hazardous waste and can be
dangerous to your family’s health.
By incorporating a number of simple planning
If you need 2m long timber, ask for the exact length
principles when designing your home you can save
rather than buying 2.5m lengths and cutting them
money and help to reduce waste.
Design for standard unit size to reduce
off-cuts and minimise cost
If standard sizes of wallboards and timber are W AT E R
considered during the design phase, waste of
Simple water saving ideas can help you reduce water
expensive materials can be minimised.
rates and power bills costs. Careful water use also
Many suppliers can also pre-cut to the desired length. helps to preserve a valuable resource for future
Minimise the amount of materials needed generations and may help prevent the need for new
through careful design dams and expensive water supply alternatives.
Detailed design can often reduce the amount of Install water saving devices
materials used (such as the number of wall studs), Install 3/6 Litre dual flush toilets.
reducing material costs.
Install low flow shower heads and aerated / low flow
Design for durability and flexibility. taps.
Choosing durable materials help prevent the need Buy water devices and appliances with the highest
for costly renovations later. water efficiency rating you can afford.
Also considering possible future needs (such as a Do not install in-sink waste disposal units! Compost
home office) in the design can help avoid the need instead (this helps our wastewater system too!)
for expensive alterations at a later date. This can also
add to the resale value of your property. Reuse water
Install a rain water tank to supply your toilet,
laundry and water your garden, or a rain barrel
to supply your garden. Check with your local
MATERIALS Council first!
The choice of building materials can have an effect Install a 'grey water' system to recycle the water
on the health of your family. By choosing locally from your laundry to water your garden with.
produced, safe and healthy materials you can not Check with your local Council first!
only help protect their health but also that of future
generations. Create water saving gardens
Use native plants & plants which will not require
Use natural, sustainable, locally made
resources, which have requires minimal watering e.g. Kanuka or Manuka.
processing during manufacturing. Use mulch to contain moisture.
Use New Zealand grown plantation timber (Pine, Install a ‘drip line’ irrigation system into your
Macrocarpa and Eucalyptus). garden.
Check with your builder that timber products meet
Protect ground water, waterways, streams
the standard - Timber and Wood-Based Products for
Use in Building (NZS 3602:2003). and stormwater drains
Wool or recycled paper insulation instead of mineral Minimise excavations to protect ground water
fibre. levels and make sure you have good sediment
control measures in place while you are doing
Use safe, non toxic materials, which are now earthworks. Do not discharge concrete waste
into stormwater drains or streams.
Use formaldehyde-free wall boards, glues, carpets
Use rainwater tanks, swales and rain gardens to
and other products.
slow the flow of stormwater draining to
Use PVC-free spouting, piping, electrical cables and
waterways and reduce pollution, erosion and
Use water-base, solvent-free paints, stains and glues.
Minimise the amount of impermeable (hard)
Buy only what you need surfaces to reduce stormwater runoff. Permable
Buy the amount of paint you actually need, even if paving is a good alternative as water can drain
a larger container is only slightly more expensive. through it.
By planning your new house carefully you can harvest Think of the open space around your house as
‘free’ energy, ensuring that your power bills are kept contributing to the health of the environment in your
to a minimum. local area. These ideas are not exhaustive, but they are
cumulative. Each item you do or improve adds benefit.
Design your house for maximum solar access The more you implement the more it is likely you are
and heat storage making a significant contribution to both the
Install large windows on the northern side of the house. biodiversity and health of your neighbourhood.
Use heat sinks, such as brick or concrete to store Connect to the green network in your neighbourhood.
Think carefully about the design of your garden
Consider access to the sun for passive solar water
Consider connections to your surrounding environment.
Place garden beds where the vegetation can connect –
Increase the level of ceiling, wall and underfloor
most native birds don’t fly over large open spaces.
Place plants according to your yard’s own soil
Install double-glaze windows, especially in colder areas.
conditions, eg use wetland plants where the soil is
Get advice from the professionals before damp.
you start Create an area where water can naturally flow to avoid
Seek information energy efficiency from the Building flooding and allow natural cleansing and soaking of
Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), the water into the ground.
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
Use native plants, which grow naturally in
or your local Council.
your local area (eco-sourced plants).
Be energy efficient Create mini eco-systems in your back yard or even on
Purchase appliances with the highest energy efficiency your balcony to help preserve bio-diversity and
rating you can afford. provide a link in the ecological corridor for native birds
Install solar hot water right from the start and insulate and insects to travel along.
hot water piping. Select native plants that grow naturally in your area to
avoid non-local native plants dominating and changing
Be energy safe
your local landscape.
Install enough power points, to avoid the use of
Use native plants to shade waterways and stream
edges (riparian margins) – there will be wildlife,
Provide RCD (Residual Current Device) protection including fish living in there!
for all circuits to prevent electric shock.
Avoid noxious weeds and plants which will
Ask Council for lists of these for your area.
H E A LT H
Consider edible landscapes and plants that
More and more people suffer from allergies asthma attract birds and insects
and headaches. Children are especially affected. Grow your own fruit and vegetables.
You can reduce the risks to your family by building
Use native plants that provide perching places and food
and living in a healthy home.
for native birds, especially for winter and early spring.
Use natural materials
Avoid or minimise use of chemicals your garden
Use wall, floor, ceiling materials and paints which let
Try companion planting to reduce pests in the garden.
Plant more densely, or grow your grass slightly higher,
Avoid materials which create indoor pollution, such
to avoid weeds growing in the first place.
as oil-based paints, turpentine or polyurethane.
Minimise any use of chemical whether it is natural or
Avoid dust (and dust mites) artificial.
Avoid carpets & dust attracting surfaces.
Compost your waste
Air bedding and rugs outside in the sun.
Composting garden and kitchen waste produces
Avoid electro-pollution valuable fertiliser for your plants.
Keep electrical appliances and wiring as far away as Use 10 – 15 cm of mulch as ground cover instead of
practical from sleeping and resting areas. weed mats to reduce the use of plastic.
Most injuries, fires and crimes can be prevented by taking simple precautions.
Take these steps to make your home safe!
Check with your builder that your home meets the Safer House Design Standards
Provide safe storage in kitchen, bathroom, laundry and garage for dangerous
substances, such as a medicines or household cleaners.
Secure ovens and non-attached cupboards with safety chains.
Design stairways and kitchens in a way which allows for child barriers to be fitted.
Create a child barrier between the front yard and the footpath/driveway.
Make your house fire safe
Install smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
Prevent crime, get to know your neighbours.
Install security lighting, and safety locks and catches on doors and windows.
Don’t use solid walls or fences in front yards as these tend to attract graffiti and
create hiding places for intruders.
Developed by Waitakere City Council
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