After 37 years and three generations living in her Kāinga Ora property, it comes as no surprise when Lorraine describes her home as “a life story”.

“My daughter grew up there, she was a baby who came into that house,” Lorraine, 76, says.

“Then my grandchildren came and lived in the house as babies, and grew up until they left to go to another home of their own.”

With all the memories and such a rich history, Lorraine had no desire to leave her home – but 37 years is a lot of living, and the home needed work.

“In 2020 when we had lockdown, I wanted something done. I knew I could never have a brand new home myself, so I prayed to God, I asked God if I could get my [interior] changed,” she said.

“Then I got a letter saying I was going to be retrofitted and I thought wow, it was an answer to prayer.”

Lorraine’s home would get a new open-plan layout, new insulation, carpet, drapes, double-glazed windows and many other features to take it beyond Healthy Homes standards and renew the life of the home.

It is among 23 to be retrofitted in Dunedin and Invercargill by mid-2023 and the first to be completed.

The Kāinga Ora retrofit programme renews the life of a home for up to 50 more years and brings the property up to 6 Homestar standards. The programme means customers can remain in their communities, returning to their homes when completed, and is often more sustainable than demolishing and building new when there is no significant benefit to redevelopment.

Across the South Island, 32 homes have been completed so far, another 30 are under way and 145 more are currently in planning.

The impact of the home on the grandchildren becomes clearer when reading the notes left by Lorraine’s grandchildren for Dunedin Housing Maintenance & Construction contractors when they arrived to extend the life of the property.

“Angel was here,” Lorraine’s 10-year-old granddaughter wrote as a welcome for the contractors.

“I was raised in this house. Can’t wait to see how much different it’s going to look,” she wrote ahead of nine exclamation points and a message of thanks “for all your coming work”.

With her daughter and grandchildren in tow, Lorraine viewed her newly-renovated home for the first time in late October, ahead of moving back in. She was “blown away” by the changes, while granddaughter Jamelia said “it’s just overwhelming”.

For Jan, a Kāinga Ora Project Manager who oversaw Lorraine’s retrofit, seeing her and her family’s reaction to the home “makes it all worthwhile”.

“It’s why we do this – all the effort we and our build partners go to is specifically for this, to see the smiles on our customers’ faces at the end of the day,” he said.

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Page updated: 23 December 2021