Many years after our first thoughts and plans in 2012 to build a small sustainable house on our section in June 2019 the moment was finally there and we moved with the family into our 72 m2 dwelling.
We still have
Although we still have about 2,000 m2 of landscaping to do the outside is about ready.
More diggers have been on site to fill the water tank and parking bay area, level the driveway, dig trenches for waste and storm water
With the exterior of the house finished more progress has been made on the interior. Some of the choices we made on the interior: Ceiling: We did nothing to the ceiling so the ceiling is just the interior side of
A mid-build tour of our home by Madelief and Charlie. Showing you the inns en outs of the house.
With the scaffolding gone finally some better pictures of the exterior of the home and our cladding. Choosing a cladding has been more difficult than I imagined and choices and materials different from what I had envisioned. I loved the
With all the scaffolding still up it is difficult to see the end result of the cladding and work hasn't finished yet so we will have to be a bit more patient. More on the selection of our cladding later. With
After some impressive times putting up the exterior walls and the roof the last weeks there was progress on different areas. Finish the beams, structure and roof above the deck area and the exterior timber framing of our roof design.
And a couple of days after the walls went up we also had a roof. We arrived on site at 2 pm to witness the progress of installing the Thermospan metal SIP roof panels but all 13 eight meter long
After the X-mas holiday break the builders are back to work. On the to do list: walls. Exciting as with the walls going up it wil become more visible how our home will look, how big or small it will feel and
Some houses would have this as their deck but this is the floor of our whole house. Just before the X-mas break the SIP wall and roof panels were delivered to site so those are ready to go up in
More trucks on site pouring the concrete for the foundation piles. The water tank for fire fighting purposes has been installed too. With the scaffolding in place and piles in the ground the size of the floor area and height
The upper retaining wall is almost finished and the parking turning bay is starting to take shape. With some timber structure up to guide the scaffolding the shape and height of the house is also slowly appearing.
Lift-off! The building works have started with the digger on site for the ground works removing the topsoil, making the cut in the hill to create some flat areas and drilling and installing the first poles of the retaining walls.
The lasts months have been quiet but in the background progress was made. We have selected local builder Brogan Builders from Maungaturoto as our builder.
The worm waste water tanks and driplines for the soakage fields have been installed after several
A few weeks ago our Resource Consent was approved so we are all good to go and build. Hurray. Reasons behind building a small sustainable home are not only reducing the environmental footprint of the home, live a lifestyle based
Once we’d decided to build a house on the section we bought in 2010, we began the exciting and fun process of finding inspirational house designs and information about how to build a sustainable house. There are many books, apps
Although we still have some time as we haven’t been able to secure a builder yet we are progressing with the wall and roof panel ordering. As our SIP’s (Structural Insulated Panels) for the wall and roof are all pre-fabricated
Yes building consent has been approved. A few minor changes had to be made on the drawings but that all went smooth and well organised. Thanks Kaipara District Council. Pretty good it is all done online and you can track
Yes two weeks ago we finally applied for building consent at the Kaipara District Council. The total package: 39 Pages of drawings, 27 Pages engineering calculations, 259 Pages project specifications, 1 Geotech (site suitability) report
As there is no sewage system in Pahi we need an onsite waste water treatment system for both grey (all household wastewater from showers, baths, laundry, washing basins) and black water (kitchen sink, dishwasher and toilets). Options are a sceptic
Since there will be no cost for heating or cooling our home with a passive solar design the biggest energy consumer in our home will be for hot water. Hot water heating accounts for around 30% of the average household
While we don’t have other options than to collect rainwater and dispose of our waste water on-site there is an electricity connection to our site. So the question is to be or not to be grid connected? Decisions to go
The design of the house is still progressing slow so time to reflect on life in New Zealand. We have been here for about a year and a half now and I still love living here. Especially the beautiful environment
Meet Gnarler, Rosie, Powerranger and Heihei our new chickens. Previously I wrote about the carbon footprint of the average Kiwi household. One third of the footprint is food related mostly caused by emissions of eating red meat. Another little step
In order to keep our energy consumption to a minimum the home is designed to use the principles of passive solar and pasive ventilation. It means there will ben no active heating or cooling system like a heat pump and
Getting excited that we are finally making some progress again and we need to decide what the building method will be for our home. It needs to be able to achieve proper insulation levels and air tightness. It needs to
Although another 1001 decisions have to be made two major ones are hovering in the air for some time: Are we going to continue to build a small sustainable house and what is the building method we are going to
The boundary of our section slightly runs into the pine forest next to our section. When we bought it I thought we had an asset on our land with about 20 pine trees. Pine trees are planted all over Northland
After a few weeks of frustration without any progress, higher costs, additional requirements and trying to figure out what to do and decide I am a little bit more positive about the outcomes. Having some setbacks also makes you think
We have reached a point where we need to do some serious thinking about what we set out to achieve with our home and lifestyle. We intended to build a small sustainable house to keep it affordable so we wouldn’t
The embodied energy of a home is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery. Different studies [1.2] show that the
One of the next steps is to get some engineering work done. We have selected Richardson Stevens Consulting Engineers in Whangarei to perform geotechnical research, take subsoil samples and create a site suitability report. They also look at stormwater management,
When we are talking about sustainable homes a lot of times it is about reducing energy and carbon emissions. While I like to know more about the carbon footprint of building a home (the "embodied energy") and the footprint of operational use later on, I
Although I don't expect much support from the New Zealand government regarding funding and support to transition to a low carbon economy due to a bad track record on climate change action, lack of policies and effective strategies I thought
Planning and schedules are made so you can change them but for a pretty long time now we have set our mind on "drinking a glass of wine, sitting on our new deck, watching the sunset from our Pahi home, X-mas
After the first sketches some weeks back we now have the developed design drawings with nice 3D renderings. The floor area is 71.5 m² where we tried to keep the plan as open as possible. We have added a loft
Our aim is to build a small sustainable home which is also affordable. Not a very easy task with the current building boom and high prices in New Zealand and a limited availability of building products. The planned size of the
While looking for examples of sustainable houses in New Zealand I stumbled across a few useful websites that I'd like to share. Living big in a tiny house. This site posts videos and blogs about people living in tiny houses
To calculate the estimated cost of building our sustainable small home, I first had to figure out all the elements required in its construction. A 'Work Breakdown Structure' is the term we applied to this process when I was designing structures
Here are the first sketches and lay-outs of our home. After reviewing some schematic options and giving our input to the architect, he created the following sketch based on the lay-out concepts we liked the most. It's cool to see
Understanding the characteristics and the environment of the site plays a major role in the design of our home. Although we have an architect whose job it is to make sure all of this is taken into account, I think
When you start thinking about building your own house you develop a picture in your head about what you want and what it will look like. You know, though, things will probably be different in the end. For me, some things
After the first brief with the architect we had some actions to do: order a copy of our title for the LIM report, order a LIM report and perform a survey of the section to map the altitudes and features.
After the selection of our architect, Duncan Firth from Solarei, I supplied him with the following information to start the discussion about what we’d like to achieve with and envision for the house: All the information we had on our
There are a lot of builders and companies in New Zealand that sell house plans and standard house packages. Since we want a design that suits our site, design style, takes into account the orientation and design for passive solar,
In other blogs I wrote about our sustainability goals and different concepts and definitions of sustainability in the built environment. Over the years different frameworks have been developed to assess sustainability of homes. The best known rating tools for homes
After looking at different rating systems for sustainable houses, learning about sustainability of homes and our own beliefs in what a sustainable house is we came up with 10 sustainability goals for our home. We could have gone for one
When I tell people we are going to build a small sustainable house their vision of what kind of house it will be varies a lot. Some think we are going to build an earth-ship or use recycled materials, others
Why build a small house? There are multiple ways to answer this question. Why build a small house at all or why not a tiny or a big house? So here are our reasons for choosing a small sustainable home:
In 2010 we purchased a section at Pahi situated on the Northern side of the Kaipara Harbour in Northland, New Zealand. Being from the Netherlands which is terribly flat and where hardly any houses have a view of the water,
Our decision to build a sustainable small house was shaped by quite a number of factors. We want to create a high-quality, practical and effective structure that has the lowest possible impact on its surrounds. And above that there are
Welcome to the first blog on www.sustainablesmallhouses.com. On this website we plan to share the learning and knowledge we gain on the journey of designing and building a small sustainable house on our section at Pahi, Northland, New Zealand.