After first submitting our design to Homestar on 15 Feb 2016, we finally received our 9-star design rating on 12 May 2016. So, what took us so long and what have we learnt from our first Homestar design rating?
To explain why this process has taken so long I’ll first explain the Homestar design rating process. Once a design is submitted to Homestar, all information is audited by the NZGBC (New Zealand Green Building Council) for analysis – a similar practice to submitting plans to council for a building consent. The NZGBC auditor assigned to a job remains anonymous and all communication is made through Dropbox and the Homestar scorecard programme. This system ensures that the auditor remains impartial; however it can complicate conversation and in our case lead to some miscommunication.
After our first audit round, our Homestar score sat at only 5 stars – a lot of our credits required further evidence or clarification. Consequently, before we re-submitted for our second (and final) audit round we wanted to make sure that our submission was bulletproof! This is the main reason that the process dragged out as long as it did – we were apprehensive about getting it right and ensuring that 100% of the required information was present.
We were unable to speak directly to our auditor, but we were able to direct our many questions to other staff at NZGBC – a shout-out here to Dani, his patience and willingness to help made this application run a lot more smoothly. Thanks to his advice and feedback we will be able to streamline the process for our future submissions.
The main practical lesson we have learnt from our first design rating audit is to ensure that all of our documentation is clearly presented and specific to each and every requirement laid out in the Homestar technical manual. For example the MAT-2 (VOCs & Toxic Materials) credit required official specifications stating which products are to be used where; originally we only supplied eco-labels and information on the qualifying products we intended to use.
Our first design rating has been a learning curve for sure; this journey has had its share of ups, downs and frustrations, but it has been positive to work with the NZGBC – an organisation so passionate about our shared goal of creating healthier homes for NZ.
We are very proud our 9 Star achievement – the first of its kind for a renovation project! We’re looking forward to continuing to share our journey on this blog as we move towards completing construction and achieving a 9 star Homestar built rating.