The use of asbestos materials in New Zealand dates back to the early 1900s, however, asbestos construction materials were not commercially imported into New Zealand until the early 1930s. Given its remarkable physical properties including resistance to heat, electricity and fire, as well as tolerance for chemical damage, Asbestos was deemed the perfect material for building and manufacturing following the post-war construction boom.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral made up of miniscule fibres which can be divided up into two groups and six common types. White asbestos was the most commonly used in New Zealand, as it is extremely flexible and can be woven into different materials. Its versatility meant that it was widely utilised for household and building products.
Brown asbestos was the second most common form of asbestos used, with harsher, sharp fibres to those of white asbestos. It was often used in asbestos sheeting with cement, pipe insulation, ceiling tiles and insulation for boards and thermals.
The least commonly used and most dangerous asbestos fibre, was blue asbestos. That’s not to say it wasn’t exploited like the others. Blue asbestos is well known for its resistance to extremely high temperatures and water repellent properties.
Blue asbestos fibres are incredibly thin and can be easily inhaled, making them the most hazardous for human exposure. However, all forms of asbestos should be treated with considerable caution, as they all contain fibres that can be easily inhaled and cause significant health defects.
The Health Risks of Asbestos
Asbestos itself doesn’t pose a threat if the material is tightly bound or undisturbed. Until it is broken up, exposed or damaged, the fibres won’t release into the air. When asbestos does become airborne, the risk of inhalation is extremely high and dangerous.
The fibres themselves are tiny and are easily inhaled, where they essentially become trapped in the lungs. This build-up of tiny fibres in the lung cavities can contribute to serious health concerns such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, pleural plaquing, lung scar tissue, and lung cancer. Asbestos is New Zealand’s number one killer in the workplace with approximately 170 people dying every year from asbestos related diseases.
Asbestos in New Zealand
During the increased importation of asbestos into New Zealand, the fibres were being used to mix into cement for building materials. Houses built between 1940 and 1970 are likely to contain asbestos-cement sheet roofing, tiles, cladding, or planks. The asbestos cement was malleable, inexpensive, fire resistant and durable, making it a popular choice for residential building materials.
Auckland’s Penrose founded a factory that produced asbestos cement products. It worked with white, brown and blue asbestos and had up to 600 employees at any one time during its peak. The factory continued to manufacture asbestos cement materials until the 1980s.
Between the 1950s to 1970s, asbestos materials were also applied with spray techniques. This included decorative coatings on ceilings and walls and generally contained chrysotile (white) asbestos. Vinyl floor coverings were also made with chrysotile asbestos paper backings, as well as vinyl floor tiles, sprayed fire protection and roofing membranes.
Despite the wealth of knowledge and awareness of the dangers of asbestos use, the first regulations on asbestos didn’t come into effect until 1978. From the year 2000, New Zealand integrated extensive bans on the use of asbestos materials in construction. This means that sites built since then, are most likely free of asbestos. However, this leaves the majority of residential and commercial sites built before then to be likely contaminated with asbestos deadly fibres.
Asbestos Contaminated Homes
If your home was built or renovated between the 1940 and 1990, there is a strong change that asbestos materials were used in some capacity. It’s important as a homeowner or renter to understand the risks involved in living in a home with asbestos. Across the ditch in Australia, Brisbane Asbestos removal group GBAR advise their local clients to seek professional advice before completing any renovations on a home built in the second half of the 20th century.
The only way to truly know if materials contain asbestos is to have it properly tested. Asbestos testing and survey specialists will take samples of suspecting materials and have them analysed in a lab to determine their level of hazard. Although it can be tempting to skip this sample process, it’s crucial for those who are not certified, to avoid performing any invasive asbestos tests without the necessary licensing and training.
It’s often near impossible to spot asbestos in the home without a licensed professional. However, there are a few common problem areas homeowners should be wary of. These are the sorts of places asbestos may have been used, for the construction of your property:
If you’re just about to purchase a new home, it’s crucial you have it properly surveyed before signing everything off. Having a house inspection prior to purchasing will provide you with a comprehensive report on the condition of these problem areas in an older home.
While these areas may contain asbestos materials, they may not be an actual threat. Provided there are no plans to disturb, damage or expose the material, the asbestos fibres will not become airborne and asbestos exposure is not a risk. Exposure levels will depend on the condition of the material, the type of asbestos, and the precautions taken to avoid secondary exposure.
If asbestos materials have been detected, they need to be immediately removed to avoid further health risks. It’s incredibly important to find accredited class-A asbestos assessors to handle the asbestos materials, regardless of the location and state. Licensed professionals have the equipment, knowledge, training and experience to handle asbestos without putting your home and your family at risk of exposure.
Damp homes promote mould and dust mites which can cause respiratory problems. While dehumidifiers and ventilation systems help reduce the symptoms of the problem, it’s important to track down the underlying cause of dampness in your home. The problem may be relatively cheap and easy to fix.
Condensation on windows, especially in bedrooms, isn't necessarily a sign of excessive dampness if it only happens occasionally during winter.
Where does excess moisture come from?InsideThe average NZ family produces up to 8 litres of moisture in the home each day from activities like cooking and showering. This is normal and can be managed by insulating, heating and ventilating.
Find out if your house is dampTo prevent mould growth, the amount of moisture in your home (relative humidity) should ideally be below 65% most of the time, and rooms should be heated to at least 18 degrees.
To assess the temperature and relative humidity in your house, try using a simple, low-cost hygrometer. Take readings over a few days or weeks in different rooms of your house, especially in winter, to find out where you might need to address dampness issues.
Learn more about hygrometers
OutsideSources of moisture, such as leaking pipes or damp rising from underneath your house, are often hidden and can go undetected for a long time, damaging to your home.
How to tackle sources of dampness insideTop tips
Bathroom, kitchen and laundry
Ensure extractor fans are:
Living areas and bedroomsAvoid unflued gas heatersUnflued gas heaters can be portable or have pipes fixed to the walls. They release large amounts of moisture and toxic gases into your house, and can also be a fire hazard.
If you’re using a gas heater or LPG portable heater without a vent or flue:
Whatever type of dehumidifier you use, run it together with a heater - a warm room makes it easier for a dehumidifier to extract moisture.
How to tackle sources of dampness outsideUnder floors
How to install a vapour barrier - NZ Standard for installing insulation
If you’re not sure about any of these actions, talk to a qualified builder.
Floors, walls and roofs
Registered building surveyors - New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors website
Accredited building surveyors - Building Officials of New Zealand website
Concrete floors and walls
Find out if your home is warm, dry and healthyUse HomeFit to find out if your home is warm, dry and healthy - it's a free online check designed by the Green Building Council.
Do the online check at www.homefit.org.nz
This page links you with information about building and renovating.
Search our catalogueDesign and construction topics can be searched by subject. Start with whatever you are building, add the words design and construction and do a subject search. For example:
Some subjects have their own heading, such as shelving (furniture).
Browse our latest house and garden titles.
MagazinesRBdigital Magazines features a number of building and home renovation magazines, including Home Renovations, Dwell, Inside Out, The Family Handyman and more.
Find more magazines by searching on the subject Building – Periodicals and House Construction – Periodicals.
eResourcesBuilding and construction links
Building and constructions websites listed in our Internet Gateway, including useful weathertightness links.
Standards provide specifications to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions, to ensure that materials, products, and services are fit for their purpose. Find out how you can access the ones you need.
Standards New Zealand
Search New Zealand standards and access all New Zealand (NZS) and joint Australian & New Zealand (AS/NZS) Standards that are available in PDF format. Includes New Zealand Standards and Earthquake FAQs under the “services” tab.
Access this at any of our libraries.
Home Improvement Collection
Home improvement articles for the hobbyists and the professional alike. Coverage includes architectural techniques, tool and material selection, and much more.
Use at a library or enter your library card & password / PIN.Check with your council before you startBuilding and DIY projects need to follow certain guidelines – for safety and weathertightness, for example.
Before you start a building project, it pays to be informed. For most projects, such as decks, pools, or additions, building consent needs to be applied for and issued before building work commences. Resource consent may also be required.
Working with your local councilLocal councils administer the compliance process for their area, inspecting buildings and issuing consents. Consents must be applied for and issued beforebuilding work commences. MBIE's Building Performance site has a good guide to understanding the building consent process.
The consents and licences section of the Christchurch City Council web site includes information about building forms and charges, design and planning guides, as well as information on building consents. Consent application formsare available on the Christchurch City Council site.
Other district councils, such as Selwyn, Hurunui and Waimakariri will have regulations and by-laws specific to their area.
Christchurch City Council building information
Building law in New ZealandThe Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) outlines building law in New Zealand on its Building Law and Compliance page.
GlossariesThis list will help you find authoritative sites that clearly define building-industry related terms, and act as an introduction to building law and the compliance process.
LIM – Land Information Memorandum
Information from the Christchurch City Council. Anyone may apply for a LIM, which gives information on any piece of land, including (among other information) any building consents or other authorisations applying to buildings on the land.
PIM – Project Information Memorandum
Information from the Christchurch City Council. The PIM provides an applicant with information relevant to the proposed building work, other than the normal requirements under the Building Act, 1991. This information enables the applicant to assess the feasibility of the project before proceeding with a Building Consent application with the Council.
Standards New Zealand Glossary of building terms (NZMP 4212:1998)
It is available at Tūhuratanga | Discovery, Level 3, Tūranga. New Zealand Standards are also accessible online in our libraries.
The online check.. This will give you an idea of how well your home - or the home you're thinking of buying or renting - is performing.
Once you answer a couple of introductory questions, you’ll end up on this dashboard:
Here you’ll be asked to answer 20 or so questions spread over 3 sections: dry, warm and safe & efficient. It should take you less than half an hour to complete, including some time to check under the home and in the roof space. If you know your home well, it should take you less than 10 minutes.
If you're unsure what a question means click on the information "i" to the right of the question. This will bring up helpful information on what to look for.
The online check won't give you a HomeFit certificate - for this you'll need to get a qualified HomeFit assessor to visit the property.
Getting your home HomeFit certifiedOnce you've made the improvements suggested by the online check go to “Get HomeFit certified”. This will bring up a range of local qualified HomeFit assessors who can visit your home to do the inspection and, if your home is up to the standard, give you the HomeFit certificate. You can email the assessors directly from this website.
HomeFit PLUSHomeFit has a higher standard called HomeFit PLUS. This requires homes to have:
Having a HomeFit PLUS stamp for your home will differentiate it from the rest of the market. Your HomeFit assessor will be able to tell you if it meets the standard.
Marketing a home as HomeFitIf your home is certified as HomeFit or HomeFit PLUS it will be recorded on some property websites with the HomeFit tick alongside other information such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This means that anyone looking to buy or rent your home can have some peace of mind that it’ll be warmer, drier and safer. If for any reason you don’t want people to know your home meets the standard then please email KiaOra@HomeFit.org.nz.
The HomeFit online check reportWhile you’re completing the online check you can click at any time on the “Get your self-assessment checklist”. This will bring up a short report summarising where your home is doing well and where it could do with some improvements. You can print this out at any time and/or send this as a link in an email for example.
Installer DirectoryThe HomeFit self-assessment report includes a list of local installers and suppliers who can come to your home and sort out any outstanding issues. Many of these installers are also trained HomeFit assessors who will be able to complete the HomeFit assessment once they’ve finished any remedial work.
The report lets you email the installers and ask them to quote for the work. We recommend getting a number of quotes to make sure you’re getting value for money.
I want to use HomeFit to self-check multiple propertiesThat’s fine. Just register to use the HomeFit website and you can save multiple properties and retrieve these whenever you log in. They are visible under the "Account" button at the top of the screen. This could be useful if you are looking at multiple properties to buy or rent, or you hold a portfolio of properties. Remember though that you’ll need to get a formal assessment from a qualified assessor to be able to get a home certified as HomeFit.
What about the RTA Amendment regulations for rental properties?The qualified HomeFit assessor will also check whether your home meets the insulation and smoke alarm requirements of the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 (RTA). Even if you’re not thinking about renting this home it’s useful to know if it would meet the standard. It’s also useful to know that the fire alarms are working and are in the right place.
…and the Healthy Home Guarantee Act (HHGA) Standards?The New Zealand Government is consulting on further requirements for rental properties likely to come in force after 2020. This will include standards for heating and ventilation as well as standards for insulation and smoke alarms (like the current RTA but maybe more stringent).
The latest consultation gives a number of different options, all of which are less rigorous than HomeFit so, if you get a home HomeFit certified, it is likely to meet the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017 (HHGA). Once the Healthy Home Standards have been formally published we will update HomeFit to include a check on the HHGA.
I want to know all the techy details about what HomeFit requiresSure, you can find the HomeFit Technical Manual on the NZ Green Building Council website.
Needing to get a new building assessed?If you’ve just built, or are about to build, a brand new home that you want to be healthy, safe and warm, then go here.
Savvy house inspections are certified home-fit inspectors...book now!
Advantages of being a First Time Home Buyer
Becoming a first time home buyer is a big decision, but being a homeowner comes with many advantages. A mortgage payment combined with property taxes and insurance is often the same or only slightly more than monthly rent. Instead of throwing away your rent money, you will be building equity with each payment. Additionally, your payments will be offset by tax savings from mortgage interest deductions, which constitute most of the payment in the early years of a mortgage. Finally, real estate has historically appreciated.
Challenges of being a First Time Home Buyer
One of the biggest hurdles in the first-time buyer’s purchase is producing cash deposit for the down payment and buyer’s closing costs. If your income enables you to qualify for the necessary mortgage loan.
A good place to start the entire process is to visit a mortgage loan officer to “pre-qualify” and establish your maximum loan amount. Call Tony Mounce Mortgages today! This loan maximum, coupled with your available cash, will determine the price range in which you should look. You can begin shopping by communities you want and need, remembering that “location-location-location” can be as important as the home itself.
When shopping for a mortgage, look at the overall cost, not just the interest rate. Generally speaking, the higher the rate, the lower the number of points charged. Make sure you understand any hidden costs or special early payment penalties, which could create problems for you. Look at different mortgage products, such as shorter-term fixed-rate loans or adjustable rate loans, but be sure you understand what your “worst case scenario” is if interest rates rise.
First Time Home Buyer Real Estate Agent
Buying a home is usually an emotional decision, and you need the counsel of a reputable, knowledgeable Canterbury first time home buyer agent who can help you buy wisely. As a first-time buyer, professional real estate assistance can be crucial. You should insist that the agent work with you as a “buyer’s agent” to be your advocate in the transaction.
Fire safety; prepare or DIE!
If you have a fire extinguisher in your home, you'll be better prepared to put out small fires before they become big ones.
For businesses, please view our commercial advice on fire extinguishers.
Using a fire extinguisher
Only use a fire extinguishers when:
· It's safe to do so considering the size and location of the fire (your extinguisher will only last 10-15 seconds once started).
· You're confident you understand how to use the extinguisher correctly.
· Everyone has been evacuated and accounted for at your safe meeting place.
· Fire and Emergency New Zealand has been called.
· You can safely access and retreat from the fire.
Remember, life is more important than property. Don't put yourself or others at risk.
Operating a fire extinguisher
When operating a fire extinguisher, use the 'PTASS' technique:
· Pull the safety pin or remove the clip.
· Test squirt the extinguisher to make sure it is working.
· Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from a safe distance. Most extinguishers are designed to be operated from about 2 - 3 metres away.
· Squeeze the handles.
· Sweep the extinguisher from side to side while aiming at the base of the fire.
Installing a fire extinguisher
You should mount fire extinguishers on the wall, out of reach of children.
Place fire extinguishers in noticeable places where they can be accessed safely, such as:
· In or near the kitchen – not too close to the stove or cooking surfaces
· In the garage
· In cars, caravans and boats
Types of fire extinguisher
There are many different types of fire extinguishers:
· Wet chemical
· Dry powder
· Carbon dioxide
· Specialised materials for Class D fires
The type of fire extinguisher you need depends on the class of fire you're most likely to experience.
There are 6 classes of fire:
· Class A (Wood paper plastics)
· Class B (Flammable & combustible liquids)
· Class C (Flammable gases)
· Class D (Fires involving combustible metals)
· Class E (Electrically energised equipment)
· Class F (Cooking oils and fats)
Choosing a fire extinguisher
The most likely type of fire to occur in your home is a cooking oil or fat fire in the kitchen. So if you're buying your first fire extinguisher, you should choose one for the kitchen that is capable of extinguishing Class F fires.
A Wet Chemical extinguisher is best for extinguishing cooking oil and fat fires. This type of extinguisher can also be used on most other classes of fire in the home. However, don't use wet chemical extinguishers on fires with a live electrical source.
While an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher is suitable for other types of fire in your home, you should never use it on a cooking oil or fat fire as the pressure from a dry powder extinguisher will cause the fire to spread.
Ideally, you should protect your home against the widest range of fire hazards with both an ABE Dry Powder extinguisher and a Wet Chemical extinguisher.
Updated 15th September 2018
Working smoke alarms are your only voice. Find out why it's important to make sure you have long-life photoelectric type smoke alarms installed in your home.
Creating an escape plan
In a fire, you'll only have 1 or 2 minutes to escape your house. That's why it's essential to have an escape plan in place and to practice it regularly.
Don't play with matches; Install a fire extinguisher now!
What is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal Imaging Reports. Infrared (thermal imaging) is an advanced, non-invasive technology that allows the inspector to show clients things about their homes or buildings that can't be revealed using conventional inspection methods.
What is thermal imaging used for?
Thermal imaging is a method of improving visibility of objects in a dark environment by detecting the objects' infrared radiation and creating an image based on that information. Thermal imaging, near-infrared illumination, low-light imaging and are the three most commonly used night vision technologies.
Updated - September 2018
People who are sleeping do not smell smoke and are unlikely to wake up during a fire. The most effective way to ensure house occupants wake up and get to safety is to install smoke alarms.
· legal requirements
· how many alarms?
· where to locate alarms
Smoke alarms are a requirement under New Zealand Building Code clause F7 Warning systems. This applies to new homes and all existing homes undergoing building work.
Acceptable Solution F7/AS1 requires Type 1 smoke alarms, which must have:
· a hush button to silence the alarm for at least 60 seconds
· a test button
· a sound level that complies with NZS 4514:2009 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses – not less than 75 dBA at the sleeping position and not more than 100 dBA at 1.8 m height. (The standard can be downloaded for free.)
On floors with bedrooms the smoke alarms must be located either in every sleeping space or within 3.0 m of every sleeping space door. In this case, the smoke alarms must be audible to sleeping occupants on the other side of the closed doors.
In multi-storey homes there must be at least one smoke alarm on each level, however having an alarm in each sleeping space is considered preferable.
Although there are several types of alarms that can be used to comply with Building Code requirements, Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommends hard-wired alarms or photoelectric alarms with batteries that last up to 10 years.
F7/AS1 does not require smoke alarms in houses to be interconnected, but this is a good idea (and it is a requirement in a part of NZS 4514 that is not referenced). With interconnected alarms, when one smoke alarm detects fire smoke, all alarms will sound. Some models connect wirelessly.
Under the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016
all rental homes must have smoke alarms:
· The alarms must be either hard wired or photoelectric battery alarms with a battery life of at least 8 years.
· If alarms have a battery, it is the tenant’s responsibility to replace the battery when it is worn out.
· There must be at least one smoke alarm installed in the sleeping space or within 3 metres of the entrance to the sleeping space.
· There must be an alarm on each floor where there is a habitable space however having an alarm within each sleeping space is preferable.
How many alarms?
Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommends installing an alarm in each sleeping and living space and interconnecting them – a sensible approach to ensure full compliance with F7/AS1. New alarms are available that are smaller and more discreet with longer battery life than the older models.
Where to locate alarms?
Alarms should ideally be installed on the ceiling, at least 200 mm from a wall or a ceiling beam to avoid dead air space. With sloping ceilings the alarm should be 200–500 mm from the apex.
An alternative (but not preferred) position is high on a wall, at least 100 mm from the ceiling and 600 mm from corners to avoid dead air pockets.
To reduce the risk of false alarms or faults, do not install:
· in a kitchen, garage or bathroom
· near a heat source such as a heat pump or solid fuel burner
· in damp or draughty areas.
Installing Smoke alarms is recommended in all sleep-outs.
At least two smoke alarms are needed in extended plan houses.
Separated sleeping areas
At least two smoke alarms are needed where there are two sleeping areas separated by the living area.
Placement of smoke alarms
At the very least, a smoke alarm should be placed between the sleeping area and living areas.
More than one storey
Where a house has more than one storey there should be at least one smoke alarm on each level.
Vacuum over smoke alarms to avoid dust build-up, and test with the test button monthly. The smoke detection element can be tested annually with an incense stick. Battery alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
Updated: 30 August 2018
NEW INSULATION MINIMUM VALUES
Zone 1 and 2: Ceiling R2.9 Underfloor R1.3
Zone 3: Ceiling R3.3 Underfloor R1.3
EXISTING INSULATION MINIMUM VALUES
Zone 1 and 2: Ceiling R1.9 Underfloor R0.9
Zone 3: Ceiling R1.5 Underfloor R0.9
From 1 July 2019, it will be compulsory for all rental properties to meet the new minimum insulation requirements. All landlords should check that the insulation at their properties meets the standards and take action if necessary before the new requirements become compulsory.
Why has the government introduced new insulation requirements?
In 2015, the New Zealand Government introduced important reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act which require all landlords to ensure that their rental properties meet minimum insulation requirements. The changes were in response to concerns that many rental properties did not provide adequately safe, warm, or dry accommodation, particularly for lower income tenants.
The initiative, run by Tenancy Services, is called Warmer, Drier, Safer Homes.
Private landlords have been afforded a grace period until 1 July 2019 to meet the insulation requirements of underfloor and ceiling insulation.
What are the new requirements?
Failure to meet the insulation requirements is an unlawful act under the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords may face fines of up to $4,000 for failure to comply.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has a Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team that investigate and enforce the law against landlords in breach of their obligations, including meeting the insulation requirements.
What are the required standards? Do I need to upgrade or install new insulation?
Use our flowchart to see whether you need to take action to upgrade or install new insulation.
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure whether your insulation meets the requirements, you should consult a qualified, professional insulation installer or inspector.
Note: consider ceiling and underfloor insulation separately. You should go through the flowchart twice: once for ceiling insulation, and then again for underfloor insulation.
Watch this video from EECA Energywise to learn more about the insulation requirements
When is insulation not in reasonable condition?
There is no strict or particular criteria for whether insulation is in a ‘reasonable condition’. However, you should consider the following factors:
Repair or Installation of Foil Insulation is Banned
DANGER WARNING: Foil insulation poses a serious danger to your safety as it may conduct electricity from live wires. You should turn off mains power at your premises before inspecting foil insulation and/or consult a qualified professional insulation expert.
Due to the danger posed by foil insulation, installation or repair of it is now banned. This means that landlords are now prohibited from:
You may only continue to use foil insulation if it was installed before 1 July 2016 and it is in reasonable condition and meets the R-value requirements.
Read more from Tenancy Services about the ban on foil insulation.
Key Resources to Learn More about the Insulation Requirements
There are 5 main exceptions where a property may be exempt from having to meet the ceiling and underfloor insulation requirements:
1. Underfloor or Ceiling Space Unsafe or Impracticable to Access
This exception applies to areas of homes where it would be unsafe or impracticable to access those areas due to limited access, their design, potential for substantial damage, or healthy and safety reasons. The area must be unsafe or impracticable for a professional insulation installer, not just a landlord or other unqualified person.
There are 3 common situations where this exception may apply:
No Exception: When there is no current access point for ceiling or underfloor
Even if there is no existing access point for a ceiling or underfloor, the landlord is expected to create such an access point in order to conduct the necessary insulation work, provided that it does not require significant building work.
2. Underfloor or Ceiling Spaces which are directly below or above habitable spaces
It will commonly be impracticable to install insulation in areas of ceiling or underfloor which are directly above or below habitable spaces.
Some common or important examples are:
Inaccessible Roof Spaces
Some ceilings and roofs have no way to access or insulate them without removing and replacing the existing ceiling or roof - this includes:
Inaccessible Underfloor Spaces
Some underfloor spaces have no means of access meaning that installation of insulation is not possible - this includes:
If at any point such areas do become accessible for a professional installer, the necessary insulation work must be done at that point.
Low Roof Clearance
If part of a roof is too low to install insulation that meets the requirements, then a less thick insulation product may be used in those low-clearance areas.
Remember: Insulation must keep a distance of at least 25mm from the roof underlay in all parts of the ceiling-roof area.
Apartments and Units
Insulation does not need to be installed where the habitable parts of a unit are directly above or below the ceiling or floor of another unit.
Installation of insulation in such circumstances would likely require significant building work, meaning it is a matter for the Body Corporate.
Outbuildings and Garages
Outbuildings such as garages or sheds that are separate from the living areas of a property do not need to meet the insulation requirements. If, however, part of an outbuilding adjoins a habitable space, then that part must meet the insulation requirements. For example, if the roof of the garage is directly below the floor of a habitable space.
No Exception: When there is no current access point for ceiling or underfloor
Even if there is no existing access point for a ceiling or underfloor, the landlord is expected to create such an access point in order to conduct the necessary insulation work, provided that it does not require significant building work.
Habitable Spaces outside main premises:
Any space, building or structure that is not part of the main premises but which is consistently used as a habitable space must meet the insulation requirements. This includes, studios, flats, caravans, or sleepouts.
3. Property meets particular insulation requirements at time of building, as approved by local council
In some very limited circumstances, a property may comply with particular insulation requirements specific to that property at the time of its construction. When these requirements do not meet the minimum R-values, such a premises may fall into this exception.
This exception usually applies when the local council gave development approval for a building design that had an insulation design where other forms or areas of insulation made up for minimal underfloor or ceiling insulation. For instance, where wall insulation made up for minimal ceiling or underfloor insulation. The landlord should provide evidence of the building specifications and of compliance with insulation requirements at the time of building.
The landlord must, however, ensure that the insulation remains in reasonable condition even if it falls into this exception.
4. Landlord Plans to Demolish or Substantially Rebuild Property within 12 months of tenancy starting
A premises does not need to meet the insulation requirements if the landlord intends to demolish the property or substantially rebuild part of it within 12 months of the start of the tenancy. For this exception to apply, the landlord cannot simply have an intention to rebuild or demolish. The landlord must have evidence of the intention to rebuild or demolish within 12 months, such as an application for building consent, redevelopment work, or resource consent.
5. When the property is sold and then immediately leased back to the previous owner-occupier for a period of 12 months or less
A premises does not need to meet the insulation requirements if the property is sold and then immediately leased back to the former owner-occupier. This exception only applies for the first 12 months of that tenancy. If the tenancy continues beyond 12 months, then the landlord must take action to meet the insulation requirements.
Read more about the exceptions
Checking your insulation
Only check insulation yourself if you can do it safely - if you can’t do it safely, then hire a qualified professional to do it for you.
EECA Energywise has helpful guides and tips on checking and installing insulation safely:
Read more safety insulation information
Subsidies of 50% of insulation costs are available to landlords that have low-income tenants. To see if your property may qualify, visit the EECA Energywise website:
EECA Funding for Insulation
Some local councils also have insulation subsidy programs. Check with your council to see if you may qualify.
Do the walls need to be insulated?
Wall insulation is not compulsory. Installing wall insulation, where possible, may still be good practice for landlords to improve the energy efficiency and warmth of their rental property. Wall insulation may also be a selling point to attract higher-paying tenants and improve the resale value of your property.
Though wall insulation is not compulsory, you must still disclose whether there is such insulation and its nature and type as part of the compulsory insulation statement attached to a Residential Tenancy Agreement.
Further Reading from Tenancy Services
Savvy Houz Inspectionsstrongly recommends further reading and seeking information from Tenancy services before taking any action with insulation.
Does your rental home meet the insulation standards?
Insulation Requirements Booklet
Warmer, drier, safer homes
The rules and regulations regarding building and designing for fire safety are outlined in the Building Act 2004.
One of the main goals of the Building Act is that people who use a building can escape from that building if it's on fire. For this reason, the Act requires that Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) send certain building consent applications to Fire and Emergency New Zealand for comment.
The engineering unit of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand reviews these applications and provides a memorandum back to the BCA before any building consents are granted.
You can find more information about your obligations when building and designing for fire safety in our guide to owner responsibilities.
Building owners in New Zealand are obligated to take a number of fire safety precautions.
For more information, refer to the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006.
Fire fighting and smoke detectionSome form of fire detection and suppression system should be provided in all commercial premises.We strongly recommended that first aid fire-fighting equipment, namely fire extinguishers and hose reels, be provided in all commercial premises.
Building occupants should be trained in how to operate this equipment correctly. It's important that all fire detection and suppression equipment is well maintained and clearly identified.
Providing an evacuation procedureOwners of buildings listed in schedule 1 of the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006 must follow fire safety precautions and have an evacuation procedure in place.
Tenants of the building are required to follow evacuation procedures in a fire emergency. Owners or tenants of certain buildings (described in paragraphs (d), (e), (j), (m), or (n) of Schedule 1) must have employees trained to assist occupants to evacuate.
In addition to meeting part 1 of the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006, the owners of some buildings that meet certain conditions must have an evacuation scheme approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Owners of these buildings must maintain their approved evacuation scheme by carrying our regular trial evacuations or implementing a training programme. You can find more information in our guide to evacuation schemes or on the online evacuation scheme website.
Maintaining a means of escapeBuilding owners must maintain the means of escape from fire for the building. This means:
Dean Norrie, Director/Building Inspector - LBP Qualified Builder, with 20+ years residential building experience, three generations of builder in the family.