Builders making high-performance eco-homes more affordable

Eco Built Homes in Christchurch, which offers the Affordabuilt range.

Director Kyle Byers says he was prompted to come up with a set of affordable house plans after his own family’s experience living in an older house.

“When the kids were babies, we were living in a 1920s house and one power bill over winter was $800 for the month. And I thought there has to be something we can build that’s warm and healthy and doesn’t cost millions of dollars.

“I worked on the ideas for a few years, after building my own house. I wanted to make a design that was energy efficient and affordable enough for entry-level buyers. We are finding people want to be in an energy-efficient home, but can’t afford the big architectural homes with all the bells and whistles.

“Although, now it is getting increasingly hard to find land that’s affordable. And the cost of materials continues to rise.”

Byers says the Affordabuilt plans are usually $330,000 to $350,000 for a three-bedroom home with one bathroom. The homes look like most other houses in the street, but the features that will turn a common home into an energy-efficient home are just hidden behind the walls, the ceilings or under the floor.

The houses do not have the airtight thermal envelope, but have thicker framing to allow for thicker insulation, and in-slab radiant heating. Minimal thermal bridging is standard.

“If the budget allows, more options can go in. At the end of the month, your electricity bills will be a lot lower than your neighbours.”

The owners of the Canterbury house shown here, which was $319,000, had winter power bills of just $160 a month, and $75 in summer.

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The build cost for this Affordabuilt house last year was $319,000 with the minimum insulated slab and inslab heating. The cost included a hot water heatpump.