Turning a cold rental into a cosy villa
Renee and her partner Tim had been renting a house in Phillipstown for quite some years, when the landlord decided to sell. They were keen to stay in the house so they checked out options to buy their rental.
“It was quite scary those numbers, what we earn and what it would cost, but we managed to make it work with a home loan.”
And so they became the proud owners of an old villa. Their home had beautiful original elements, such as a wooden arch in the hallway and wood panelling on the walls as well as a tasteful extension at the back. But it was also freezing cold in winter with the high ceilings of the old villa not helping.
“The landlord was a cheap old fella,” Tim remembers. “There were stacks of newspapers in the ceiling as insulation.” Insulation under the floor was non-existent. “We used to feel the draughts blowing through the gaps in the floorboards,” Renee laughs.
But the cold of Christchurch’s winters was no laughing matter for the couple. “In winter we would huddle around an oil fin heater in the lounge with lots of jerseys on. As soon as we opened the door, we could see our breaths. From the lounge we made a dash to the bedroom where we huddled under the blankets with cold noses."
In 2015 CEA did a Home Energy Check on the house. “We learned so much from CEA,” Renee says. “There were a lot of little things that are not so expensive that we could improve.”
One of those was installing an extractor fan in the bathroom where mould had been growing happily and paint had been peeling off the walls due to dampness. "It is much drier now. I actually feel clean now after using the bathroom,” Renee explains. “Before I would think, ugh, get out of here as soon as possible.”
Another one was getting good free recycled curtains from the Curtain Bank to shut out draughts from the windows.
They had a logburner installed through Environment Canterbury and a heat transfer system as they had a source of free firewood. Installing insulation had been too expensive though.
Then early in 2020 one of CEA’s assessors was at the house next door and Renee had a chat to him. She learned the criteria for subsidised insulation had changed and she now qualified for free insulation. Before winter was finished the house was properly insulated with batts in the ceiling and under the floor.
“It was a massive difference with the insulation,” Renee says enthusiastically. “I love the underfloor insulation. I am a big fan of walking without socks on. Before we couldn’t do that.”
“The insulation keeps the heat in. Before, as soon as we turned the heater off, the heat would be gone. Now it keeps the heat much better. The heat transfer kit works better as well. The insulation is awesome,” Renee concludes.
That is two humans and two furry friends who can confidently look forward to winter in their now warm and cosy villa.