The traditional house in
sits in it's own quarter acre, is built from a framework of wood, and
walled with (horizontal) planks of wood and no insulation .
built on either wood or stone piles, heated by a wood-burning stove and
is finished with corrugated iron roofing.
In the UK, there is a technical term for this type of house.
It's called a garden
I kid you not, the above description is
fairly accurate for traditional Kiwi houses. It is only
recently (last 20 years) that insulation became the norm.
Central heating (or a heat pump) is fitted to most new
houses, but a very high percentage of older houses have only a log
burner as the sole source of heating.
New Zealand does get cold (see Weather)
in our winter, June- August. The degree of cold varies across
the country, but even in the so-called "winterless north", most houses
have some form of heating.
The normal Kiwi response to feeling cold is either;
- Put on another woollen jumper
- Put another sheep
log on the wood burner
- Go out for a run
- Chop some logs
- Go to bed (with someone else if you can arrange it). Going
to bed with a sheep is frowned upon( ....unless you're Australian)
Until recently, laws in NZ allowed anyone to build their own house.
It would have to be inspected before final council approval
was given, but planning and design was minimal. This has led
to the lack of large estates of identical housing, giving Kiwi towns
and suburbs a pleasant individuality.
Traditionaly, each house has had a minimum of a quarter acre of ground,
called a section. (pronounced saicxen see language
As house and land prices have risen in recent years,
trend has developed of sub-dividing the section under separate legal
titles, and these being developed with their own dwelling.
House prices vary, as in the rest of the world, according to location,
size and quality.
A two-bedroomed house on a small section in a remote rural area is
A three bedroomed house on a normal section in a suburb of Invercargill
(deep south) is around $150,000
A three bedroomed house on a normal section in a good suburb of
Wellington (the capital) is around $450,000.
A three bedroomed house on a normal section in a good suburb of
Auckland (the largest city) is around $750,000
A three bedroomed house on a large section in the best suburb of
Auckland (the largest city) is around $3,500,000
A house on the coast, with a sea view, is at a premium.
To look at houses in New Zealand over the Internet I would recommend
using either trade
By the way, a house advertised as a lifestyle block or farmlet is a
house (normally 4 bedroom+) with between 1 and 5+ acres, where you can
supposedly live the Kiwi dream, and have your own lovely little bijoux
farm, with horses, livestock etc..
Why the Kiwi dream is supposed to include weeding (on an industrial
scale), burying dead livestock, keeping fencing in good order, dosing
sheep, dipping sheep, shearing sheep, delivering lambs at 3 o'clock on
a bloody cold and wet morning, feeding chooks, collecting fresh
free-range eggs (the one redeeming feature, especially made into a 3
egg omelette), cleaning out chook-sheds, cutting down trees,
chain-sawing into logs, moving logs into log-shed, arranging logs in
log-shed, re-arranging logs after the stack's collapsed, cleaning out
the filter in the water tank(s), regarding what your drinking water's
been flowing through for the past 6 months....., throwing-up,
explaining to wife and family why everyone's had raging
diarrhoea, making appointment with GP to arrange typhoid and
hepatitis shots, oh yeah better arrange a course of tetanus injections
at the same time, remember that fencing nail??? etc..
Many houses, even small ones can have a sleepout
As in many countries, Kiwis mostly use real estate agents
who get their commission (bloody exorbitant at around 4-6% + marketing
costs) from the seller.
Viewing can be by appointment, but a frequently used tactic is called
the open home. This is a technique where the house is
as having an open home on a set time and day. The visitors (no
appointment normally required) turn up and look around the house.
The estate agent is normally present, and conducts the
When you decide you want to purchase, negotiations are conducted
through the estate agent.
Chattels (removable white goods) including cookers, fridges etc.. are
quite often part of the sale, and are listed in the
It is when you move into the final stages of the purchase that the
procedures begin to differ substantially from the UK
The contracts are prepared and offered for completion by the estate
agent. (Most purchasers get a lawyer to check before signing)
Contracts can be accepted subject to certain conditions
- Move in dates
- Subject to a satisfactory building survey
- Subject to finance
Once signed, the contract (with its conditions) is binding
the process in Scotland, but unlike England and Wales) and 10%
of the agreed purchase price is handed over to the estate agent!
The agent hangs onto the deposit (in a trust account) until full
completion and transfer.
The agent's (exorbitant) fee is deducted from the deposit before being given to the
The final title search and transfer is normally done be each party's
own lawyers. (legal fees are somewhat lower than the UK, normally less that $1,500)
In the 1990s, some (quite a lot of ) homes were built using what was
originally an Australian building concept. These were quick
relatively inexpensive to build, and worked pretty well in Oz.
It doesn't rain much in Oz.
It does rain a lot in NZ.
Some of the timber used in the buildings was found to be improperly
treated, and can rot.
The overall effect was a Leaky Building. Be very careful that
your prospective purchase is not one of these. The poor
unfortunates who have one are trying to get the government (local and
national) to accept some responsibility (they did approve the design and
are supposed to have checked the building process), and help them fix
their homes. The process of compensation/restoration is
underway, but is slow and
I've mention heating before
, but there
are really four types of heating available.
- Wood Burning Stoves (Some Multi-fuel and coal burning available, mostly West coast of South Island)
- Gas fired hot-air central heating (Can be either reticulated gas (piped in from gas main in street) or bottled gas)
- Oil fired central heating
- Electric (either storage heaters, oil-filled electric radiators, and most common, heat pumps)
When looking at a house before purchasing, look at the water supply.
Most urban areas do have good supplies of piped-in water, but most
rural, and many more remote suburbs (especially life-style blocks)
depend on collecting rain water from gutters and roofs. The water
is stored in very large concrete or plastic tanks, and is used for all
Some modern houses do use advanced filtration systems (e.g. Reverse
Osmosis), but most just use a simple mesh and gauze filter to cut down
on the contaminants.
We lived in such a house for 2 years, and (to be delicate about it ) we
didn't need to use bran, syrup of figs or any other type of
It is not uncommon to pull out dead possums, rats, birds from the tank, nor to find insect parts coming out of the shower head.
In dry weather, and there are a lot of long dry summers (we're not
complete idiots, see, I knew there was a reason to come here) many such
rain water-dependant families have to buy in tanked water...I think
the cost is about $400 for a large tank.
The piped water in towns is of a good quality, and in some areas, of
outstanding quality. In Petone, a suburb of Lower Hutt, on the
coast opposite Wellington, they have tapped into an aquifer running
down from the hills. It is the best water I've tasted, and is
freely available via a public fountain
in Buick Street.
As in most of the developed world, urban areas use a common sewage
system via pipes. Most rural and semi-rural areas use septic
Tradition dictates that a new septic tank is "primed" bacteriologicaly by throwing in a dead possum..
Getting your septic tank and water tanks too close together is widely considered to be a bad move.
Since the rise of the green movement, many mad
enlightened Kiwis are using composting toilets, reed beds etc.. to reduce their impact on Mother Earth.
Mother Earth doesn't seem to be that impressed. I haven't noticed
any reduction in earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, bush fires