Taramea Climate House :

The Taramea Climate House is one entrepreneurial family's experiment with passive house building methods. And it is an experiment that is turning out very successful. Despite not having any heating, this home manages to stay a cosy 20 degrees even on the frostiest of mornings in Queenstown. The energy that the solar panels produce take care of not not only the house's electrical consumption, but also charge their electric vehicle to drive 50km a day. This was achieved by building with a prefabricated product called SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels), installing a fully insulated concrete slab, using triple glazed joinery, and airtight Pro Clima products. Additionally, the interior design has been carried out thoughtfully and beautifully, creating a very special home to abode in.


We are a family of three, being Michael 38, Jodie 38 and Olive 4, along with our two dogs Pippy and Ponti. Michael is a founder/director in Climate House NZ and NZSIP Smart Panels, as well as Wilding & Co. Jodie expresses her passion for interior design through Hide and Seek Style.

Sly family, Build me 

The Aim

We wanted to create a successful and functioning Passive House. To push the boundaries on NZ building standards and prove things can be done in a different way.

 Climate House, Build me


The Project

The internal floor area is 150square metres. There are three bedrooms, one open plan living area, 2.5 bathrooms and an office.

Climate House, Passive House, Thermorary cladding, Build me

The Plans

 Climate house, plans, build me, eco home



Climate House, Passive House, Thermorary cladding, Build me

The Section

The house has been built on a rural property in Speargrass flat, Queenstown, facing Coronet Peak with a north facing aspect. The land was an existing family owned plot. Where we built was the only site on the property allowed by council to build on.

Climate House, Passive House, Thermorary cladding, Build me

The Design

We designed the house and Guy Shaw from Energy Architecture in Wellington detailed the plans for passive house certification. Michael came up with the overall concept while Jodie took care of the interior architecture. We designed the home to achieve exactly what we wanted in a family home and to maximise on space and storage.

Climate House, Kitchen, Wooden Flooring, IKEA,


Climate House, Kitchen, Wooden Flooring, IKEA,

The Inspiration

As well as passive house design principles (north facing, small footprint), the house was inspired by the rural vernacular of Central Otago. The interiors were inspired by Scandinavian design and simplicity, with Pinterest and Instagram being great tools for ideas. The inspiration for building a Passive House came from the motivation to build a home that was efficient for the long term.


 Climate House, Kitchen,  white, wood, IKEA,

The Build

The house was a prototype for the Climate House building team to test the high performance system. It was project managed by James Clarke from Climate House and built by apprentice Mason Brookes, who was 19 at the time, and completed by Paul Gerrard. The house was built during 2015 and took 7 months. This would have been a lot quicker had we not built over the winter months, as there were lots of snow and weather delays. (Ed note: During the build they hosted an open today for Prefab NZ, which you can read about here).

Climate House, Living room, dining, open plan, Wooden Flooring, IKEA,

Climate House, Living, wooden floor, Scandinavian, IKEA,

Special Features

- Built to passive house certifications.

- SIPS Panels 

- Triple Glazed Joinery from Germany

- Blower door test result of 0.4 ACH (passive house standard being 0.6 ACH)  

- Nilan Compact P MHRV unit for 24 hour ventilation and hot water generation.

- Thermory ash flooring and fixtures,

- Thermory Baltic pine cladding.

- IKEA fit out and furnishings.

- Fisher & Paykel appliances.

- Solar Panels


 Climate House, laundry, storage, ikea, wooden floor

Staying on Track

James Clarke was our project manager and dealt with most things for us which was very helpful.  The main obstacles we had while building was to overcome the bad weather in the beginning, which delayed things. It was important being prefab that builders understood the importance of sequence, and to do airtightness work before other construction. We still kept an eye on things and always checked everything. There were no major changes. We were going to have stonework on the exterior but changed our minds due to design aesthetic and budget.

Climate House, master bedroom, ikea, throws, wooden floor

 Climate house, passive, eco, master bed, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

 Climate House, kids bedroom, ikea, girls, wooden floor

Climate house, passive, eco, kids bed, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

Obstacles to Overcome

The biggest challenge was procurement logistics of products from overseas and organising their timely arrival (SIPS panels, windows and IKEA furniture/kitchen). Prefabrication requires a lot of pre-planning and organisation. We did a lot of research on what products to use. With the SIPS panels we researched all the different types both nationally and internationally (all are not created equally) until we found a product that met all our requirements. Michael has since gone on to establish a factory in Cromwell that will manufacture these same high quality SIPS panels (NZSIP Smart Panels), so that future builds for Climate House, and any other building company that wants to use them, can access them a lot easier than we did.

 Climate House, guest bedroom, ikea, indoor plant, wooden floor

 Climate house, passive, eco, bedroom, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

What we Love

We love it's warmth and comfort. We love the complete design and are really happy with its usability and functionality. It's form follows function. We love the site and how it sits into the landscape. We love net zero energy living for both home and electric car.

Climate house, passive, eco, lamps, wooden floor, interior design, build me

Climate house, passive, eco, sideboard, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

Tips for Build me. Readers

Insulation, air tightness and good joinery are crucial to create a warm comfortable home. Spend more on passive systems than on active central heating systems. Spending your money in the right places will ensure your house is future proof.

This home can be replicated and would be as cheap if not cheaper than a home with central heating/cooling to build, but with close to zero running costs including extra power for a electric car (free daily transport). This home saves $10,000 a year in energy costs for home & car for a much higher standard of living & comfort. Affordable low cost *living* not *building* when looking at mortgage or rental is actually more valuable than a poorly built home with high running costs over time. 

Climate house, passive, eco, living open, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

Climate house, passive, eco, open plan, wooden floor, interior design, build me

Recommended Contractors

Designer / Architect: Climate House / Energy Architecture

Building Company: Climate House

Electrician: PBI

Foundation: Custom insulated waffle floating slab

Plumber: Love to Plumb

Kitchen: IKEA assembled by Jodie, builder installed.

Flooring: Thermory

Cladding: Thermory

Gibstopper: Simple Solutions

Solar: Infinite Energy 

Painter: Inside Job

Airtight Wrap & Roofing Underlay: Pro Clima

Window & Door Joinery: Kneer Süd Fenster from Germany.

Roofing: Extreme Roofing

Interior Designer: Jodie (Hide and Seek Interiors)

Photos by Michaela Cox Photography

Climate house, passive, eco, bathroom, wooden floor, indoor plants, build me

 Climate house, passive, eco, stairs, wooden floor, interior design, build me


Passive House, wooden floor, reading spot, indoor plants, eco home, build me