Affordable, build-ready Eco homes and low energy bills for life

Eco-home builders say that for the same amount as a conventional home you can have a house with near zero energy bills by dropping the size by 10 percent.

Homeowners are swapping out warm, dry, healthy cost-effective homes for an extra bedroom or bathroom.

Solutions lie within build-ready, energy-efficient home plans. eHaus is a nationwide housing company specialising in passive house design and construction. Recently eHaus released a collection of build-ready, energy-efficient house plans. The designs in the People’s Home Collection range from $560,000 to $650,000.

Whilst they are not certified Passive Houses, director Baden Brown says the three-bedroom houses have been energy modelled across all 18 climate zones in New Zealand – using the Passive House energy efficiency computer software (PHPP) as a performance base to maximise high performance.

“One of the biggest challenges when building a new home is budget and often as a trade-off things like energy efficiency and performance aren’t considered,” Brown says. “eHaus wants to bridge that gap.”

Brown confirms the plans will operate well above the eHaus Pacific standard. He says they will use 88 percent less heating energy than if the same plans were built to the current New Zealand building code.

With an airtight thermal envelope and air exchange system, the eHaus builds will maintain a constant minimum temperature of 20 degrees inside all year round requiring less heating and cooling.

The contemporary designs present spacious, open-plan living areas and soaring ceilings that follow raked rooflines. Sustainable materials, designs and construction are used to minimise waste.


eHouse is part of the Superhome Movement which recently held open homes throughout the country. Eco Built Homes is another Superhome builder in Christchurch offering the Affordabuilt range.

Director Kyle Byers was inspired from his own experience living with babies in old homes, paying $800 monthly for power in winter. He thought there must be a cheaper way to stay warm. He worked on the idea for years with a goal to design something warm, healthy and affordable to entry-level buyers.

“People are wanting to be in energy-efficient homes but can’t afford the big architectural homes with all the bells and whistles” Byers explains.

Byers says the Affordabuilt plans usually cost $330,000 to $350,000 for a three-bedroom home with one bathroom – and low energy bills for life. While they look like most other homes on the street it is what lies behind the walls, ceilings and underfloors that sets them and their power bills apart. Instead of airtight thermal envelope the Affordabuilt houses have thicker framing allowing for thicker insulation and in-slab radiant heating. Minimal thermal bridging is standard.

The $319,000 Canterbury home in the photo received winter power bills of just $160 a month, and $75 in summer. 

Adapted from Colleen Hawkes, Builders making high-performance eco-homes more affordable.

A check up from the House Doctor

Self-proclaimed House Doctor solutions could save homeowners thousands of dollars in energy and medical bills.

House Doctor

Nelson Lebo is an Eco-design advisor for the Palmerston North City Council. The House Doctor is frustrated with the state of New Zealand homes.

As an EDA Lebo diagnoses unwell buildings. He offers free advice on making existing homes warmer, healthier and more efficient through renovations and retrofits. “I’m a house detective, a house doctor prescribing solutions.”

With a PhD in science and sustainability education, the certified home-performance-advisor has diagnosed over 2000 homes and prescribed solutions aligning with family budget, lifestyle and type of house.

One client John Hornblow says “Nelson is so sensible and practical with so much technical knowledge and experience. His explanations were completely understandable.”

The better approach is not to amend existing homes but to design them more efficiently in the first place. Lebo says when he is invited to look over and review new house plans it is often too late for his recommendations – and by then too costly to be taken on board. He says that due to Covid uncertainties, the housing crisis, climate crisis, and rising costs, priorities don’t lie in designing efficient buildings. Instead they lie in simply getting them built as fast as possible. Lebo describes these factors as brewing a perfect storm against high-performance homes.


His plan?


The House Doctor believes he could help more wanting to assist homeowners for free with a tiny service cost to individual ratepayers.

Lebo observed people quickly adapting and using technology to communicate during Covid-19. He saw this as an opportunity to change his business model and reach a wider market. Lebo would like to advise people remotely making his service free to those who need it.

“Organisations such as a District Health Board, an Iwi, a Council, a Social Service pay for the membership and then all of their members or residents get free access to it.” Lebo explains his green, low-cost business model which could reap massive benefits.

Adapted from Janine Rankin, House doctor is frustrated people are building their houses wrong anCan’t sleep because of the heat? Try this clever fan trick