Sustainable homes at budget prices from local building firm

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Well-known Queenstown building firm Rilean Construction is going into affordable housing via the green route. 

The firm launches its Evolution Series at a Sustainable Practice Expo in the Memorial Hall next Friday. 

Rilean shareholder and senior quantity surveyor Mick Moffatt describes the architecturally-designed Evolution range as “energy-efficient, healthy and affordable”. 

Homes will be sold off the plans to people with their own sections, he says. 

The prototype design of 141 square metres being unveiled next week has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, formal lounge, dining and kitchen area, and study. 

At $259,000 including GST – the lowest price in the Evolution range – this home works out to $1836 per square metre – it’s a per-square-metre price that’s virtually identical to the Government’s new “Simple House” design announced last weekend. 

All Evolution homes have optional carports or double garages. Designs for larger homes are already on the drawing board, Moffatt says. 

Rilean pushes its sustainable homes on both cash savings and saving the environment. 

Their research shows an Evolution home saves at least $900 a year in electricity and reduces carbon emissions by 70 per cent, compared with the same-sized house fitted with heat pumps but only minimal insulation, Moffatt says.
“As far as we’re aware, we’re the first local construction company to offer people a home that’s been independently tested for energy efficiency.” 

The testing has been done by green building consultant Paula Hugens of Arrowtown. 

She’s awarded the Rilean home seven stars on the energy-efficiency scale, compared with four stars for a house built to minimum building code standards. 

“We’re really pleased,” Hugens says. 

Hugens puts the high rating down to good orientation to the sun, thicker wall studs allowing thicker insulation, and other new technology not yet common in New Zealand. 

Even the concrete floor slabs on Evolution homes get the green treatment – there’s a 10-centimetre insulation layer between the concrete pad and the earth. 

While Rilean has had several larger residential projects, the firm is better known for sizeable commercial projects such as The Mountaineer redevelopment, the Novotel Lakeside expansion and The Shore and The Club apartment complexes. 

Budget housing is a diversification, Moffatt admits, but with section sales ticking over nicely on the otherwise flat real estate scene, the firm may be tapping into a market niche. 

While affordable housing is new to the 16-year-old Rilean, sustainable practice has been a keynote of the organisation since April this year. 

That’s when the firm joined the NZ Green Building Council. 

Among green practices at Rilean are managing material orders and deliveries to minimise vehicle movements, and also co-ordinating them with the picking up of building waste where possible. 

A sustainable office policy includes recycling kitchen waste, as well as sending architectural and engineering drawings to subcontractors via disc rather than on paper.