Sorting NZ's damp house problem

Sorting NZ's damp house problem

We've all lived in them – damp and cold houses and flats. But new rules are coming, and all landlords will have to insulate their properties by 2019, although insulation in the walls is optional.

But the truth is we built our houses badly. It's estimated up to 900,000 New Zealand homes are poorly insulated, and now we're paying the price in so many ways.

The solution is insulation and ventilation.

A coroner partially blamed the death of toddler Emma-Lita Bourne on the damp, cold state house she was living in. Soesa Tovo also died of respiratory issues last year after trying to get transferred out of his cold state house.

But councils demand a permit for wall insulation, which can cost $700 just for the paperwork – no wonder landlords are staying away.

It's a problem that needs addressing if families are going to cope.

To begin, you'll need to find out if your home is insulated or not. Short of banging a hole in your wall, you can only assume. If your home was built prior to 1979, it is very unlikely to have been insulated when it was built.

If your house was built between 1979 and 1991, insulation was optional, and most houses would have ceiling insulation only.

If you have to prioritise your insulation, start with the ceiling, which accounts for a huge amount of heat loss, then look at the walls. You can insulate your walls from the outside via a foam injection system. It works by drilling small holes in the outside walls of the house and passing foam through.

Once you've sorted your walls, check your windows and doors before moving on to underfloor options. Follow up with ventilation options, and finally heating.

Some heating tips include: