How smart is your house?

Many Christchurch residents looking to purchase their new home are being assailed with a variety of ‘smart homes’ on offer in the market place.

Obviously the marketing slogan fits well with smart phones and smart cars, but is it just a slogan, or is there something more to this smart house concept?

On investigation it appears, when it comes to a smart house, it refers to a design which has captured the latest in energy efficiency technology at an affordable price.

One architect who has been recognised for his smart home development is Tony Koia, who heads Koia Architects, with offices in Queenstown in Auckland.

Koia Architects’ Smarthouse is a series of compact, energy efficient, smart, architectural homes aimed to provide maximum value for medium cost.

The concept for the Smarthouse evolved from the award winning starter Home Koia Architects designed for the Department of Building and Housing in 2009.

Tony says these homes were aimed at first home buyers at an affordable price point. This was for a 120sqm home, with two to three bedrooms, which could be added to as needs expanded, with a high energy efficiency and could be built for around $1,400 a square metre.

“The Smarthouse is the evolution of this, providing homes that have increased thermal efficiency, smart heat recovery and ventilation systems, which result in lower running costs,” Tony says.


“They are architecturally designed and aim to have a style that is not offered by group housing solutions.”
One of the issues Tony wanted to address with the Smarthouse was energy efficiency and has done so with a double membrane wrap (inside and outside) and using a cost effective heat recovery and reticulation system.

“Most low cost homes offer the minimum insulation and construction solutions and therefore have the highest running costs.

“We wanted to position the Smarthouse so it would be affordable to first home buyers, retirees and people on lower or fixed incomes, as these groups often struggle with the spiraling cost of electricity.”

“The Smarthouse will also appeal to anyone who wishes to have an architectural home without the usual one off costs. Affordable, compact and efficient does not have to be ugly.”

“We have developed a whole range of Smarthouses from a small 60sqm one bedroomed compact house to 240sqm three to four bedroomed family homes.”

Tony says the Smarthouse offers advantages for less stable land which standard timber framed homes would struggle with and has been designed with extreme climates like Queenstown in mind.

He is currently working on a design to suit the Christchurch landscape, taking into account its seismic instability and is collaborating with a Christchurch based home builder to get the design to the marketplace later this year.

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