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Huia Street

As if a prime location, a stylish appearance, and gorgeous views of Kapiti Island from every room weren’t enough, this Waikanae home is also an energy genius. 

The owners dreamed of building an efficient home for many years. “The challenge was trying to find a design that was eco-friendly but also beautiful,” the couple explain. 

Their research led to an interest in Passive House Principles. These requirements ensure what’s known as the world’s most rigorous quality standards for energy-efficient buildings. 

The couple enlisted Three Line Studio to design the build. They gave their designers a fairly open brief with instructions to maximise views from the property, which overlooks Waikanae, Kapiti Island, the South Island and, on a clear day, Mount Taranaki. “We worked really closely with the architect,” say the homeowners. “We didn’t want to stifle their creative process, but we knew what we were looking for.” 

Their architects introduced them to builder Mike Craig, a Passive House tradesman with a stellar reputation around Waikanae. 

Because the house sits on a hill and gets hot sun in the afternoon, Mike knew meeting Passive House standards would require meticulous planning. “A Passive House must have fewer than 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure. They do a blower test to check. It’s a measurement of airflow and a simple target that the Passive House Institute requires for new building Passive House certification,” explains Mike. “This house is 0.35, whereas an old villa might do 20 to 30 air changes per hour.” 

The home has a mechanical ventilation system. extra-thick insulation, and triple-glazed windows. Mike says only five per cent of heat in the house is lost. “They have not turned on the heater once during the winter other than underfloor heating in the bathrooms. The house has all the health benefits – the air is filtered, which helps if you’re asthmatic or have allergies. It’s free of pollen and you can’t grow mould in a Passive House.” 

There’s beauty alongside brains. Cedar graces the exterior and a veranda encircles the entire home. Ceilings are up to 3.2m high and a corridor longer than a ten-pin bowling lane services all rooms. Attention to detail is striking. “My team did a beautiful job with the woodwork. including around the windows,” says Mike. 

Another standout is the master bathroom, with floor-to-ceiling tiles. The kitchen and other joinery are 18mm, 13-ply plywood, and a towering door that divides the kitchen and lounge slides back into the wall when not in use. “It took six people to lift it in,” says Mike. 

“Everyone who comes into the house is blown away by it,” say the homeowners. “The standard of finish, plus the design, is top end. You come in from a hard day of getting blown around in Wellington and it’s like walking into an oasis. We are so blessed.”