Home Wof to target problems

Homestar director Leigh Featherstone (left), Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Anderson Lloyd lawyer...
Homestar director Leigh Featherstone (left), Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Anderson Lloyd lawyer Rachel Brooking at a New Zealand Green Building Council event in Dunedin this week. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Damp, draughty and mouldy Dunedin homes will be targeted by a warrant of fitness being developed by home-performance joint venture Homestar.

The Green Building Council, a partner in Homestar with Branz, hosted a masterclass in Dunedin this week on the development of the warrant of fitness (Wof).

The event, held at Anderson Lloyd Lawyers, attracted representatives from the University of Otago, Otago University Students' Association, Dunedin City Council, Presbyterian Support and building and insulation industry representatives.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull opened the event, speaking about Dunedin's old building stock and its impact on the economic development and social wellbeing of the city.

Landlords renting a property were selling a product and a certain standard should be expected, he said.

Homestar director Leigh Featherstone said, with help from the University of Otago's healthy home index, councils and the Accident Compensation Corporation, draft criteria for a Wof had been developed covering categories such as insulation and heating, moisture and ventilation, sanitisation, electricity and safety.

That could translate into standards such as having hot water at no more than 55degC and having securely laid carpet, handrails on steps and properly installed insulation, Mr Featherstone said.

Only one Wof was needed nationwide, incorporating regional variations.

The aim was to create warm, efficiently heated, safe, secure and healthy homes, he said.

How a Wof could be implemented was a complex issue, as ideally a third party would assess homes, but that would create another industry.

There were also unintended consequences to be assessed, Mr Featherstone said.

Next to be developed was an assessment methodology so homes could be assessed within an hour and the results reported easily, possibly using an Android app.

The aim was to run field tests in October and adopt the Wof by December.

Anderson Lloyd lawyer Rachel Brooking said once the standards were set, the cost to landlords and tenants needed to be considered, along with whether it would apply to only rental properties or generally, how it would be enforced and who would administer it.

Issues such as incentivising landlords, the time frame for implementing the Wof system and what legislation needed to be amended would come next.

A participant, designer Gary Todd, of Dunedin, said Otago people had a great culture of working together so changes could be made without regulation from Government.

The Green Star commercial standard was well accepted in the commercial building sector, so the same approach could be taken in the private market, he said.


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