How we design our homes is critical to our success and from 1 January 2023 our new Ngā Paerewa Hoahoa Whare Design Requirements will replace the current M-255 Housing Standard Design.

The housing sector in New Zealand is experiencing significant change from foundation legislation like the Resource Management Act, amendments to the Building Code, to the proposed introduction of measures such as carbon reporting.

Rohan Bush, Kāinga Ora Director of Building Sustainability Innovation and Standards says the team have created smarter design standards that define both what Kāinga Ora is looking to achieve, performance outcomes, as well as describing acceptable solutions. She is confident that the refreshed design requirements will be valuable to a sector that is navigating the pressure of significant changes and challenges.

The requirements are grouped by theme and building component, and provide performance requirements, acceptable solutions and guidance for the design solution.

“This is more about being smarter in a way that lets our designers know what we want. We’ve expanded our requirements to include walk ups and apartments, and provide our design partners with flexibility to bring their technical expertise to our construction projects.

“Fundamentally we want New Zealanders to live well in our public homes, whether that’s ensuring driveways are safe, floors are slip resistant and of course homes are well insulated and energy efficient.”

Rohan says the requirements still define solutions but also clearly explain the outcome Kāinga Ora is looking to achieve.

“Rather than be prescriptive for every situation, where the acceptable solution doesn’t work well we want our partners to focus on the performance outcomes. What we have documented as acceptable solutions will be fit for purpose in most situations, but we want our design partners to have the flexibility to provide different solutions that improve the outcome for their specific project.”

The requirements also integrate where possible design features that minimise the environmental impact of the home, and deliver to our full universal design and accessibility requirements.

  • In 2019 Kāinga Ora made a commitment to ensuring all new homes we design and build meet the requirements of Homestar®, an industry best-practice rating tool and audit process developed by the New Zealand Green Building Council.
  • Kāinga Ora has targets relating to full universal design for new build projects, ensuring what we design and build can be accessed by all our customers regardless of age, size, ability or disability.

Where relevant both Homestar® and Full Universal Design requirements have been included.

Rohan says “I genuinely have confidence the publication of our refreshed Design Requirements will help our design partners. What we’ve developed is a balance between being both prescriptive and genuinely flexible. An architect can create efficiencies but also channel their creativity to achieve the performance outcomes for solar access to thermal performance and everything in between”.

The Design Requirements will apply to all public housing projects briefed from 1 January 2023 and will be published late December.