While undertaking the largest residential build programme in Aotearoa, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities is also ensuring its existing homes are great places to live. With the retrofit programme, the classic state house is getting a facelift.
NO TRUER IS the term ‘it has good bones’ than when referring to the classic Kiwi state house. These homes, many of them built in the 1940s and 1950s, have withstood decades of our wild weather, natural disasters and generations of families living well in them.
Standards for homes have changed
But what do you do when these iconic Kiwi dwellings no longer live up to the – quite rightly – improved standards we require our homes to meet?
Kāinga Ora has been steadily redeveloping these properties, deconstructing older houses to make better use of the land while providing more warm, dry homes for New Zealanders in need. There are, however, instances where this isn’t the best option.
Alongside our new-build programme, our people are tasked with finding solutions for areas where redevelopment doesn’t align with our strategies. Many of our customers also love their homes – it is their retreat where they’ve raised families and celebrated milestones.
Retrofit programme complements new builds
With Kāinga Ora’s retrofit programme, our customers stay in their communities. After a short time in temporary accommodation, they return to the same place they’ve come to love – only with some serious improvements enabling them to keep living well in their homes. The work goes far beyond the coat of paint and new drapes you might think of renovation – although we do that too.
Retrofit covers a whole gamut of improvements and brings these homes up to or beyond new-build and 6 Homestar standards while renewing the life of the building for up to 50 more years.
These improvements ensure our homes are warmer, drier and healthier, including features like full insulation (walls, ceiling and underfloor), double glazing, increased ventilation and new heating. Kitchens and bathrooms are upgraded, and by converting to an open-plan layout, we provide better functionality and energy efficiency and bring a modern aesthetic to the homes.
It can also be more sustainable to upgrade a property rather than demolishing and building new homes on land where there is no significant benefit to redeveloping. Our contractors can make use of existing materials, allowing us to minimise waste.
It’s also an opportunity for us to work with local contractors to deliver the programme, benefiting our communities. It takes about 4–5 months to retrofit a home, which allows for both the construction work and moving process. Our relocation team works closely with customers in finding temporary accommodation that meets their needs, as well as supporting them for the duration of the retrofit.
Rolled out across New Zealand
The programme is now being rolled out all across New Zealand, with a strong focus on our regions. A lot of careful planning and preparation took place before this, however, to make sure it was the best solution – not just for our properties but our customers as well.
It began in the Hutt Valley, where Kāinga Ora and our build and maintenance partners retrofitted more than 300 homes. We were thrilled with the results and how well our customers responded to their newly modernised homes.
Improving people’s lives
Our customers’ wellbeing is a key focus of the programme, and rehousing the people we serve within their communities is a priority for Kāinga Ora. Don’t just take my word for it though.
Our customer Barbara has been in her Lower Hutt home for over 10 years and was beyond excited to have her home retrofitted. When she saw her new home for the first time with her family and Kāinga Ora staff alongside her, she was over the moon at the transformation.
‘I can’t believe it’s mine! It is just so new and beautiful’, she said at the time.
While Barbara was hesitant at first to temporarily relocate, Tenancy Rehousing Officer Carol stepped her through the process. Through workshops, our customers learn what happens to their homes and get to add a personal touch by choosing colours for the carpets, vinyl and exterior paint.
‘When I was told my home was being retrofitted, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to move back into it, but Carol cleared that up and I’ve got no fears,’ Barbara said.
At the end of the day, people like Barbara are the reason we do the work we do at Kāinga Ora, and I’m pleased she had such a positive experience working with Carol and the team.
Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.