150: Energy Efficient Homes in Canterbury

Harley Builders

Managing Director and builder of awesome, energy efficient homes, Glenn Harley
Managing Director and builder of awesome, energy efficient homes, Glenn Harley

Glenn Harley is a builder of energy efficient homes in Canterbury. After being attracted to the natural, healthy feel of strawbale construction, Glenn now produces high performance homes with lots of insulation and airtight envelopes. Among his recent achievements is building Christchurch’s first Passive House.

The Cost of Building

Glenn points to the cost of materials, particularly because monopolies and duopolies as being one of the big barriers to delivering good quality homes in New Zealand. Hopefully with more products now coming on the scene, that will start to change.

Our houses are our biggest investment. Yes, a good quality house is going to cost more upfront than a lower quality house of the same size, but if you’re going to live there for 10 years of more, it’s well worth it to you and your family.

Getting the wrap right. Pro clima Intello being used on Christchurch's first Passive House.
Getting the wrap right. Pro clima Intello being used on Christchurch’s first Passive House. This contributed to an impressive result of 0.38 air changes for the airtightness test.

House Proud

Harley Builders are proud of what they do. Call it craftsmanship or attention to detail, but pausing to manage a job well and resolve issues are all part of what’s required to get a great end product.

Finding a Good Builder

When researching builders, Glenn recommends finding out what they’ve produced in the past. Look at photos, or better still, go and visit some of their previous work.

Above all, can you get on with them? You’re going to be involved with your builder for a six to twelve months (or more for a complex build). Communication and trust are therefore incredibly important.

Glenn Harley recommends doing research and experiencing what a good house 'feels' like when choosing a builder.
Glenn Harley recommends doing research and experiencing what a good house ‘feels’ like when choosing a builder.

Passive House is Measurable

Glenn’s moved towards Passive House because it works. He’s attracted to the measurability of the Passive House standard, as opposed to ‘green building’.

Constructing a house is going to have an impact on the planet – probably one of the largest impacts you’re going to have. It’s better to focus on producing something that’s going to be energy efficient and healthy in the long term.

First Passive House in Christchurch

The official certification is pending, but Glenn has produced the first Passive House in Christchurch.  The home won’t need any mechanical heating or cooling during the whole year. This has already been tested during a record hot day in Christchurch. When it was 36°C outside, it was 23 inside, with no fan or cooling, other than a Zehnder ventilation system.

Ventilation System Going into Christchurch's first Passive House Home
Ventilation System Going into Christchurch’s first Passive House Home

New Products

Harvey Builders had some other innovations in their recent project in Christchurch. Jet Stream MAX from Knauf was installed by Eco Insulation. This product is new to New Zealand, but not a new concept in other parts of the world where they’re much more familiar with high performance homes. I’m excited to see more options like this come to NZ. For more info, check out Jet Stream Max from Eco Insulation.

What's going on here? Jet Stream MAX is new to New Zealand, but the concept is familiar to builders of high performance homes elsewhere.
What’s going on here? Jet Stream MAX is new to New Zealand, but the concept is familiar to builders of high performance homes elsewhere.

Harley Builders

For more information, check out the Harley Builders website and Facebook page.

Pro Clima
Sponsored Link

Links

  • Paulo Silva

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for sharing. Wasn’t good to hear about how bad monopolies and duopolies has been to Christchurch rebuild process. Unfortunately, the new products that are coming on the building construction scene, will not change this situation. As you said, we should get political.

    • mcutlerwelsh

      Based on my recent experience at the Passive House conference in Melbourne, and the questions that some builders are asking, I’m positive about the future. The more people that question the code and ‘the way we’ve always done things’, the better.