I read an article in Stuff yesterday that got my heart rate up. I strongly believe that tools like Homestar are needed to help make houses better. And I’m anxious to correct some misconceptions and to address the question of ‘how much does Homestar cost?’
What is Homestar?
Homestar is New Zealand’s comprehensive environmental rating tool for homes. It’s Green Star for the residential sector and is not some crazy Kiwi start up idea. It’s very closely related to successful international precedents such as LEED and Code for Sustainable Homes.
Not Just an Energy Rating
Homestar defines and quantifies what sustainability means for houses. It’s a 1 – 10 scale made up of 100 points across six categories:
- Energy health and comfort
- Water efficiency
- Products and materials
You can also get some extra points for innovation.
Homestar is applicable to all homes:
- New or existing
- Detached or attached (single dwellings through to apartments)
- Designs or completed buildings
Why is Homestar Needed?
- I believe it’s needed because the building code isn’t good enough.
- Like all rating tools, Homestar offers independent verification of your design and your build. How else can you tell if your house really is designed and built to be sustainable.
- Rating tools are communication devices. They create a language for sustainability that enables easy comparison of a number of weighted parameters, boiling it all down to a single, easy-to-understand number.
How much Does Homestar Cost?
The first thing to note is you can start Homestar for free. Jump online, register for free and do an indicative rating on your house (or prospective house) using the online tool.
There are three components to the cost of getting a Homestar rating.
- Certification fee: Paid to the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC). This is about $180
- Professional fee: This is the price you pay to an assessor for their time to assess your design or finished house, possibly provide some advice, then compile and submit your rating to the NZGBC. This is generally $500 – $1,000 depending on the time required.
- Building costs: This is potentially (but not necessarily) the big one. It’s the actual additional costs of products and materials in order to achieve your target rating.
How Homestar Adds Cost
Applying Homestar to an existing design will add cost. This is like trying to retrofit, or upgrade anything. But evening using this methodology, Jasmax determined that the additional cost of a typical Auckland house should be a little under $6,500, or just over 2%
A far better approach is to start with the end in mind…
4 Step Homestar Process
This could be considered just a good process for any design, but it’s particularly useful when applying Homestar:
- Start with the end in mind: What’s your target? Homestar 6 is probably a good target for most.
- Resource adjust factor: This is a fancy term for size. Homestar penalises excessively large floor plans, and rewards compact design.
- Wraps, taps and gaps: There a handful of mandatory minimum requirements mostly for energy and water efficient. These are non-negotiable.
- Go shopping! The rest of the 100 available points are negotiable. There’s no set way to achieve any particular target.
Like all good design, Homestar doesn’t have to cost much or indeed anything extra. Invest time and perhaps a little money upfront and create a better place to live within your budget.
If you’d like more help with Homestar, please get in touch.