The Building Diaries: Part 6, Wiring, Insulation, Weathertightness and Windows :



Build me. Editor Hana Deavoll and family are building their own home in Queenstown. Follow the journey as they buy land, plan their dream home and oversee the building process. The Deavoll Family includes Hana (37), builder Sam (36), and their children Indy (7), Phoenix (4), Sonny (2) and #4 due next year.

The last few weeks on site it has been a hive of activity, hence this blog post covering a few steps in one!



As soon as the roof was on , the crew from RLS Electrical started running wires through the house. We had a basic electrical plan which was done a few months ago, but now that the walls are up, we confirmed it by walking around room by room and deciding exactly where each switch, power point and light was needed. This involves a bit of foresight into how you will be using each area to live in, hopefully we got it right, but only time will tell. The electricians also installed a Smartvent evolve system in the house for ventilation. Pre plumbing was also done by Well Connected in preparation for the bathrooms and kitchens

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As our house is constructed mainly from triboard, all the wall framing insulation is on the outside of the house. The insulation material is 70 mm Expol polysterene, and is installed between 70mm batons for a tight fit. This gives our walls an R rating of 3.0, well over the minimum building code of 2.0.

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In the ceilings we have installed Earthwool Glasswool batts at a R5.0 rating for maximum defence against heat loss through the ceiling. We chose Earthwool Glasswool batts for a few reasons:

- Non-combustibility - it cannot catch fire

- 'Super-soft' fibre for easier installation - virtually itch free

- Low dust

- No added artificial colour - it's naturally brown

- No chemical smell

- No added phenol or formaldehyde for enhanced indoor air quality

In addition, our Smartvent system runs through our roof space, so we wanted to ensure a cleaner air space than what we could get from more commonly used products.

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Our Earthwool batts, prior to be rolled out in the ceiling



After the wall insulation and batons had been installed, we wrapped our building in building wrap to make it weathertight before cladding. It may be a month or so before cladding is installed, so we chose a high-spec building paper to ensure maximum weathertightness and insurance against leaky building syndrome - Solivitex Estana by proclima.

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Benefits of this product include:

- NEW GENERATION - high performance monolithic nonporous membrane

- diffusion open from the inside allowing moisture to pass through 

- high water resistant  – water column more than 10,000mm

- low vapour resistant - MVTR lower than 0.75 MNs/g

- highly durable under all conditions - unaffected by wood preservatives

- UV stabilised - can be exposed to the New Zealand elements for 60 days

- easy to install

- recyclable (emits no toxic gases when burned)



Our windows were supplied by Design WIndows and we were very excited when they arrived on site as it meant our whole building could now be closed off from the elements. As our building contains a lot of glazing, we chose a higher specification for our windows to ensure that they had the same R value as the walls - 3.0. We also wanted to avoid the common problems associated with 'just' double glazing, namely heat loss and condensation. We did this by using two methods - Low E Glazing and Thermally broken windows.

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What is Low E Glazing?

Low emissivity (Low-E glass) is an important component of high performance energy efficient windows. This glass has a thin metallic coating that allows the passage of short wave solar energy into a building but prevents long-wave energy produced by heating systems and lighting from escaping outside. Low-E glass allows light to enter while also providing thermal insulation. Some building companies are making this a standard feature of their homes as it is a proven way to increase energy efficiency, so it is worth asking. This cost us an additional 7%

What are Thermally Broken Windows?

Thermally broken windows incorporate a thermal break between the aluminium exterior and interior elements, resulting in windows and doors that are 20% more efficient than standard double glazed products. An additional benefit is the ability to have dual colours-a different colour for interior and exterior. This feature cost us an additional 12%

Our windows are powder coated in Ironsand, to match the cladding and roof. The weekend before the windows arrived we happened to visit a bach in Ohau that had an amazing window seat, where the window was raised to elbow level to allow a shelf for cups of tea etc. We have two window seats in our home but we had not thought of this feature. We rung up first thing on the Monday morning but unfortunately it was now too late to change sizes. Once the windows were on site,  we decided to send the smaller window seat back anyway, for the manufacturer to alter. They reduced the size of it and returned it a few days later. An expensive lesson learned but now we know our media room window seat will be just perfect.



Meanwhile... Choices are being made for flooring, carpet, wall finishings and curtains. Bathroom fittings and taps have been ordered. The crew are now starting on the exterior cladding, and we have the gibstopper and painter starting in the flat next week!


Related Articles 

The Building Diaries: Part 1, The Section 

The Building Diaries: Part 2, Design & Planning

The Building Diaries: Part 3: The Foundations

The Building Diaries: Part 4, Framing & Trusses

The Building Diaries: Part 5, Roofing

 3 Things to Consider before Electrical Work Begins

How to Build a House

Free EBook - Building in NZ: An Essential Guide to Building Your Own Home