What is the perfect house and how do we design and build it?

What’s The Perfect House: A Thought Experiment.

Recently, a client asked me what my ideal home would look like and where I would build it. My answer was that I would construct one or two Scandinavian-style, rectangular units that are easy and quick to build, highly insulated, use sustainable and healthy materials and the house is truly energy efficient with little or no heating or cooling required. I even mentioned the possibility of being off-grid and then scratched my head.

I explained that I would prefer to build in the countryside because I love the privacy and habitat, but not too far away from the city. I would also opt for single-story units that are not too large. I would use super insulated walls, floors and roof, possibly using structural insulated panels (SIPS) and a mass-timber portal frame if required.

When asked about achieving a passive design certification, I said no. My client looked surprised, but my design and building experience in New Zealand in particular has taught me that ‘most’ builders are not able to achieve that standard without charging high prices. Instead, I would aim for 90% passive house standard, always considering cost versus benefit.

We ended up in quite a debate that unearthed some interesting comments and questions. So I’m curious to know, what is your ideal home? What size do you prefer and why? How do you balance factors such as size, location, building systems, material choice, sustainability, health benefits, local infrastructure and living style? Have you come across any building systems or styles abroad that you think could work well and be more cost-effective than what is available locally? How do you balance all these factors to create your perfect home? I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives.

Comments 1
  1. I think the flash floods in Auckland have made me question where I live. We’ve witnessed that the city infrastructure simply can’t cope with severe weather conditions. We need to think about what and where we’re building. The housing estates we’ve been building over the last decade have smaller sections with less recreational space and plantings, so where does the water go? The planners need to rethink their strategy and we need to stop building on top of each other in Auckland. If the government could create realistic opportunities for business hubs outside of Auckland then the people will surely follow, possibly me too. And I would build off-grid near the beach surrounded by forest if possible. Something small with nearly no maintenance. Not sure what style or building system though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *