Passive houses are precision constructions which require
special skills in critical places.

Other considerations: Passive houses are precision constructions.

"Normal" houses have very precise detailing and construction in all the places that people see. Floor and wall detailing, for example. Doors, kitchen componentry, and so on. These things affect the visual aspects of a house - how it looks - and how the kitchen works. They do not have much effect on how the house as a whole functions as an environment to live in.

Passive houses require high precision and detailing in many of those parts of a house that people do not normally see, and therefore take for granted. This thought pattern extends to the tradespeople who construct a house. Their attention to specific detail in the underfloor zone, insulation of piping under the floor, air-tightness and sealing of roofs and the attic spaces, for example, may not be nearly as high as it is to the visible areas of house construction.

Consequently, builders and their staff who take on the construction of a legitimate "passive house" need to be educated in the goals and specifics of passive houses including the high degree of precision required from them. The owners of the new house and the architect should set aside adequate time for all building staff to attend a seminar / workshop of passive house goals and construction requirements
For some builders and their staff, all this may be more than they are prepared to take on. They need to be ready and able to follow architect instructions exactly.

For these reasons, in some places it may be desirable to design the house in modules to be constructed off-site in a joinery workshop, since joinery/cabinetry tradespeople are more used to high precision construction than the average house builder. That way also, it should be possible to have better control over the specified materials to be used in construction, and to avoid cost-cutting short-cuts which may compromise the end quality of the building.

Links to pages about the seven precepts of Passive House design.


Very efficient Insulation

No thermal bridges

Air-tight construction

Great ventilation

Passive heating

High-efficiency windows

Passive solar gain

Prices / costs

Important considerations

Early perceptions

Design standards



Glenn Murdoch at Wanaka, is a major designer of passive houses.
AS of May 2012, Glenn has an office in Christchurch, so is readily available to create sustainable, healthy, warm and economic houses to replace homes for earthquake victims.
Would you like to see a passive house in New Zealand now?

You can follow the blog of the first build at
        New Zealand's first Passive house blog-spot

This house is now completed and the happy owners are using it.
Read about it at this Auckland newspaper site Well done !!

View an Irish video - 11 minutes long - on passive houses Passive houses in Ireland here.

Another NZ passive-house is documented on-line, on facebook. If you are a facebook user, you should have no problems viewing these pages.
A New Zealand Passive house set of informative pages
A New Zealand Passive house - the base page
Congratulations to Brooke the Architect (MOAA Architects) for what looks like a thorough job, and likewise the builder for following instructions so well. Lots of construction detail in here. which converts to at 229 Kaikorai Valley Road, Dunedin. Tel; 03 453 0340, contact
Does double and triple glazing in durable timber frames which avoid thermal bridging (heat conduction between the interior and exterior of the house) by the window frame components.

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