Devlin House - Whangamatā

23 August 2022

Homestar home delivers high-quality living and happiness


Owner: Brian and Norma Devlin

Location: Whangamatā, southeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula

What: domestic dwelling; three bedrooms, two bathrooms; 195 square metres

Where: 748 square metre section in a subdivision 3 kilometres from the centre of Whangamatā overlooking Whangamatā Estuary and surrounding farmland

Occupancy: two adults

Project certification: 7 Homestar design rating (August 2019) 7 Homestar built rating (June 2021)

Award: 2021 recipient of a silver award at Waikato Registered Master Builders House of the Year

Project Snapshot

Architect: Borrmeister Architects & Common-Good Architects in association

Main contractor: Luke Baxter, Beach House Builders Ltd, Whangamatā

Homestar assessor: Toni-Rose Brookes – Common-Good Architects (formerly of Borrmeister Architects)

Project timeline: planning and design phase late 2018, construction September 2019 to July 2020, occupancy July 2020

“Every day, we say to each other, 'aren’t we lucky to live here'.”

Retired chartered accountant Brian and diabetes nurse specialist Norma Devlin are the proud owners of the first Homestar-rated home on the Coromandel Peninsula.

“It is the most beautiful, comfortable, efficient home and a pleasure to live in. Building our Homestar house is the best thing we’ve ever done,” says Brian.

When the couple decided to relocate from Nelson to Whangamatā in 2018 to be closer to family, building a house exemplifying green, resilient and sustainable principles was not central to their plan.

“We had identified we wanted a warm, dry and energy-efficient house, but we planned to buy an existing property. We did find a place but viewing it on the shortest day of the year proved a revelation – it had zero sun.”

When their son-in-law Luke Baxter, a registered master builder and Homestar practitioner, mooted the idea of building a Homestar-rated house, they were immediately engaged by the concept.

“Luke explained the benefits of building a Homestar home, the bonus of having a dwelling that is consistently warm and comes with long-term cost savings. He was also able to recommend a certified Homestar architect – everything aligned.”

Brian and Norma secured a section, and while the couple was involved in the initial design phase of the house, Luke, along with architect and Homestar assessor Toni-Rose Brookes spearheaded the project.

Now, after living in the all-electric house for two years, Brian says the benefits of their home completely outweigh any additional costs associated with the Homestar design and build.

“The house has far exceeded all our expectations in terms of warmth, comfort and energy efficiency - which has flowed into very low power accounts. Last year our total kW usage was just under 4000kWs – ‘low usage’ is considered to be anything below 8000kWs.”

He says the polished concrete floors are heat sinks and beautiful to walk on in winter in bare feet.

“We only have one heat pump in our large living area set at 22 degrees which is ample. It is never used in summer as the design of the house has large eaves which restrict the sun coming inside. There is a second heat pump in the hall which we have very little need for. The airflow in the house is great, and it’s beautifully insulated – not too hot and not too cold.”

Common-Good principal architect and Homestar assessor for the project, Toni-Rose Brookes says the fundamental green design elements of the house included:

  • site orientation
  • sun paths and angles
  • protection from the prevailing winds for outdoor spaces
  • eco-friendly materials
  • cross ventilation throughout the house regarding window/door placement
  • water storage
  • maximized insulation
  • thermally broken double glazed joinery (the thermal insulated barrier between the inside and outside of window frames reduces conductivity which minimises the transfer of heat and cold through the window frame)
  • suitable placement of clothesline and vegetable garden
  • provision for a future electric car charging point in the garage

Toni-Rose believes collaboration from the outset was one of the key factors in the property’s successful 7 Homestar rating.

“There was a great project team including the builder and homeowners who shared a vision and desire to achieve a 7 Homestar rating.”

“It’s a privilege to design a home and really rewarding – as with the Devlin house - when a design is realised, performs in the manner that it was intended and is enjoyed by the occupants.”

She say Homestar provides an independent appraisal of a house to ensure it meets a benchmark exceeding the minimum NZ Building Code standard while also targeting occupant wellbeing.

“Homestar looks at how design and performance contribute to the everyday health and wellbeing of occupants and considers aspects that will enable and encourage those occupants to live a more comfortable and sustainable lifestyle. It’s all about the outcome of design on both people and the planet.”

Builder Luke Baxter of Beach Home Builders Ltd says a house built to a good standard will be more cost-effective to run, easier to keep warm and more environmentally friendly than a standard home built to the NZ building code.

“Homestar is proof that your home is energy efficient, and that’s absolutely going to add value to your property.”

He says the construction team at Beach House Builders Ltd enjoyed working on a project which focused on minimising the impact of building on the environment.

“There was a lot of extra work involved to make sure materials complied and that we had the right documentation to provide the necessary evidence to achieve our 7 Homestar rating, but it added a sense of pride in all of us that we were able to achieve such a good result and know we had created a more sustainable home with lower energy costs,” says Luke.

Meanwhile, Brian and Norma say Homestar has sharpened their sense of environmental responsibility and improved their knowledge of native flora (a point is awarded in Homestar for using appropriate native species covering at least 25 percent of vegetated land).

“After two years, our garden of native shrubs and trees looks tremendous and really adds to the style and ambience of the house, and we have a magnificent pōhutukawa tree at the bottom of our drive.”

Reflecting on two years in their home, the couple is now big proponent of the rating.

“We are already benefiting from an increase in the initial capital cost. In our opinion, all new builds should be at least up to a 7 Homestar rating to ensure better health and living.”

Brian says the house and its credentials have even attracted positive feedback from the local community.

“People just love to come here – it’s so warm and liveable. We can’t fault its design, and there is nothing we would change. We’re so grateful to Luke. We love it, and we’re never moving out.”