Social housing  |  16 Dec 2020

Work is under way to upgrade a number of social housing units in Christchurch with special types of insulation.

The work is part of a joint initiative between Christchurch City Council and the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (OCHT) to improve living conditions for tenants in line with the Government’s Healthy Homes Standards.

Combined, the two organisations own about 2200 properties across the city. About 900 of those are exempt from minimum insulation standards because of the way they were originally built.

“Where possible, spray-in foam and blow-in fibre insulation is being used to get into hard-to-reach spaces such as skillion roofs in exempt properties,” says Council Head of Facilities, Property and Planning Bruce Rendall.

“That means, in some cases, we need to lift off the roof in order get access and to install insulation evenly throughout the narrow space.

“The homes we’re insulating also have heat pumps installed, so the insulation will allow tenants to more efficiently heat their homes in winter and cool them in summer, making for a healthier, more comfortable living environment.”

More than 2000 heat pumps and ventilation systems were installed for tenants earlier this year as part of the joint Warm & Dry Initiative.

The Council and OCHT are also installing draft-stopping seals and thermal curtains in hundreds of units that need them.

OCHT chief executive Cate Kearney says tenant feedback about the work has been heart-warming.

“Not only are they thrilled with the Warm & Dry property improvements, we’ve received so many compliments about our team and the contractors’ professionalism and personable manner.

“We’re getting around twenty compliments a week from tenants who are loving their warm and cosy homes.

“Our recent annual tenant satisfaction survey found 84 per cent of tenants agreed their home is warm, dry and weather-tight, up from 59 per cent in 2019. Overall, 83 per cent perceive the new Warm & Dry Initiative is having a positive impact on their lives.”

The Warm & Dry Initiative is being funded by the Council via a $10 million loan and $6 million from its Housing Development Fund.

The Healthy Homes Standards cover requirements around heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draft stopping. Registered community housing providers such as OCHT have until July 2023 to make sure all properties comply with the standards.

* The photo above was supplied by NZ Foam.