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These guidelines will help you to save money, build a

healthier house and reduce your impact on the environment.


By incorporating a number of simple planning
principles when designing your home you can save
money and help to reduce waste.

Left over paints become hazardous waste and can be

dangerous to your familys health.
If you need 2m long timber, ask for the exact length
rather than buying 2.5m lengths and cutting them
to size.

Design for standard unit size to reduce

off-cuts and minimise cost

If standard sizes of wallboards and timber are

considered during the design phase, waste of
expensive materials can be minimised.
Many suppliers can also pre-cut to the desired length.
Minimise the amount of materials needed
through careful design

Detailed design can often reduce the amount of

materials used (such as the number of wall studs),
reducing material costs.

Simple water saving ideas can help you reduce water
rates and power bills costs. Careful water use also
helps to preserve a valuable resource for future
generations and may help prevent the need for new
dams and expensive water supply alternatives.
Install water saving devices

Install 3/6 Litre dual flush toilets.

Design for durability and flexibility.

Install low flow shower heads and aerated / low flow


Choosing durable materials help prevent the need

for costly renovations later.

Buy water devices and appliances with the highest

water efficiency rating you can afford.

Also considering possible future needs (such as a

home office) in the design can help avoid the need
for expensive alterations at a later date. This can also
add to the resale value of your property.

Do not install in-sink waste disposal units! Compost

instead (this helps our wastewater system too!)

The choice of building materials can have an effect
on the health of your family. By choosing locally
produced, safe and healthy materials you can not
only help protect their health but also that of future
Use natural, sustainable, locally made
resources, which have requires minimal
processing during manufacturing.

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
Council first!
Install a 'grey water' system to recycle the water
from your laundry to water your garden with.
Check with your local Council first!
Create water saving gardens

Use native plants & plants which will not require

watering e.g. Kanuka or Manuka.
Use mulch to contain moisture.

Use New Zealand grown plantation timber (Pine,

Macrocarpa and Eucalyptus).

Install a drip line irrigation system into your


Check with your builder that timber products meet

the standard - Timber and Wood-Based Products for
Use in Building (NZS 3602:2003).

Protect ground water, waterways, streams

and stormwater drains

Wool or recycled paper insulation instead of mineral

Use safe, non toxic materials, which are now
widely available

Use formaldehyde-free wall boards, glues, carpets

and other products.
Use PVC-free spouting, piping, electrical cables and
other products.
Use water-base, solvent-free paints, stains and glues.
Buy only what you need

Buy the amount of paint you actually need, even if

a larger container is only slightly more expensive.

Minimise excavations to protect ground water

levels and make sure you have good sediment
control measures in place while you are doing
earthworks. Do not discharge concrete waste
into stormwater drains or streams.
Use rainwater tanks, swales and rain gardens to
slow the flow of stormwater draining to
waterways and reduce pollution, erosion and
flooding downstream.
Minimise the amount of impermeable (hard)
surfaces to reduce stormwater runoff. Permable
paving is a good alternative as water can drain
through it.

By planning your new house carefully you can harvest
free energy, ensuring that your power bills are kept
to a minimum.
Design your house for maximum solar access
and heat storage

Install large windows on the northern side of the house.

Use heat sinks, such as brick or concrete to store
Consider access to the sun for passive solar water
Increase the level of ceiling, wall and underfloor
Install double-glaze windows, especially in colder areas.
Get advice from the professionals before
you start

Seek information energy efficiency from the Building

Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), the
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
or your local Council.
Be energy efficient

Purchase appliances with the highest energy efficiency

rating you can afford.
Install solar hot water right from the start and insulate
hot water piping.
Be energy safe

Install enough power points, to avoid the use of

dangerous multi-boxes.
Provide RCD (Residual Current Device) protection
for all circuits to prevent electric shock.

Think of the open space around your house as
contributing to the health of the environment in your
local area. These ideas are not exhaustive, but they are
cumulative. Each item you do or improve adds benefit.
The more you implement the more it is likely you are
making a significant contribution to both the
biodiversity and health of your neighbourhood.
Connect to the green network in your neighbourhood.
Think carefully about the design of your garden

Consider connections to your surrounding environment.

Place garden beds where the vegetation can connect
most native birds dont fly over large open spaces.
Place plants according to your yards own soil
conditions, eg use wetland plants where the soil is
Create an area where water can naturally flow to avoid
flooding and allow natural cleansing and soaking of
water into the ground.
Use native plants, which grow naturally in
your local area (eco-sourced plants).

Create mini eco-systems in your back yard or even on

your balcony to help preserve bio-diversity and
provide a link in the ecological corridor for native birds
and insects to travel along.
Select native plants that grow naturally in your area to
avoid non-local native plants dominating and changing
your local landscape.
Use native plants to shade waterways and stream
edges (riparian margins) there will be wildlife,
including fish living in there!
Avoid noxious weeds and plants which will
be invasive

Ask Council for lists of these for your area.

More and more people suffer from allergies asthma
and headaches. Children are especially affected.
You can reduce the risks to your family by building
and living in a healthy home.
Use natural materials

Use wall, floor, ceiling materials and paints which let

air penetrate.
Avoid materials which create indoor pollution, such
as oil-based paints, turpentine or polyurethane.
Avoid dust (and dust mites)

Avoid carpets & dust attracting surfaces.

Air bedding and rugs outside in the sun.

Consider edible landscapes and plants that

attract birds and insects

Grow your own fruit and vegetables.

Use native plants that provide perching places and food
for native birds, especially for winter and early spring.
Avoid or minimise use of chemicals your garden

Try companion planting to reduce pests in the garden.

Plant more densely, or grow your grass slightly higher,
to avoid weeds growing in the first place.
Minimise any use of chemical whether it is natural or
Compost your waste

Avoid electro-pollution

Composting garden and kitchen waste produces

valuable fertiliser for your plants.

Keep electrical appliances and wiring as far away as

practical from sleeping and resting areas.

Use 10 15 cm of mulch as ground cover instead of

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!
Prevent injuries

Check with your builder that your home meets the Safer House Design Standards
(NZS 4102:1996).
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.
Dont 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

Printed on 100% recycled paper using vegetable based inks.

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