Fendalton Passive House

Andrew and Katy Marriott: Fendalton Passive House

We moved to Christchurch post-quakes to help with the rebuild and ended up staying. We wanted our new home to be low-energy and chose to build a Passive House – a German technique that uses triple-glazed windows, extra thick walls, abundant insulation and other technologies to create an airtight and energy-efficient building. The result is a constant temperature — winter and summer, day and night — of 20-odd degrees.

Our electrician recommended we approach Glenn of Harley Builders because of his workmanship.

Of the 6 builders we interviewed we chose Glenn. We got on very well with him and were pleased his price came in the lowest.

We happily recommend Harley Builders to others. Here are some of the reasons why:

Glenn had a very ‘can do’ attitude. We hadn’t decided on the windows upfront and were pleased that Glenn was open to variations.

Glenn was proactive by saying ‘this is going to work’ or ‘I think there is a better way we can do this’. So there was no rework as Glenn and his foreman John – who was excellent – saw the problems before they arose.

We did make some changes to the plans along the way. John and Glenn made the decision-making process easy as they were quietly supportive in the background. Glenn was very accommodating and great in getting tradesmen onto that work very quickly.

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Passive House is a relatively new way of building and some of the plan details needed resolving. Glenn worked through the process to a point where everybody was happy going forward. There are always challenges around the builder – owner – architect triangle.  The relationship just got better and better. Which doesn’t always happen that way around!

A Passive House needs to be airtight and a first test failed on the manufacturing process of a window, something out of Glenn’s control. It highlighted that Glenn’s workmanship was outstanding, that the whole process was managed expertly by him, and that he is an excellent verbal communicator.

We were keen to move into the house as soon as possible as we were living in a pretty substandard rental, but Glenn was adamant that we could not move in until such time as he had got it to an appropriate point. We were disappointed but in hindsight realised that was the best decision not to move in early and really respect Glenn for that.

Our son is a carpenter in Hamilton and came on moving day whilst the builders were still working on-site. He commented that the atmosphere was unusual as it felt like a family and that it was a happy building site.
We were always made to feel welcome on-site and the team respected our values by not swearing and cussing and keeping the music volume turned down.  Prior to open homes for friends and families Glenn’s team would clean up the site on a Friday night.

Any build can be stressful but Harley Builders ensured that the process was manageable and to a certain extent enjoyable.

Our home has functioned very well.  Just prior to Christmas it was 36 degrees outside and 23 degrees inside without the use of an air-conditioner or heat-pump in reverse as we don’t have either.

Glenn has a positive ‘can do’ attitude so along with his faultless workmanship he and his team were the perfect choice to build our dream Passive House. Throughout the process great communication, exceptional problem-solving skills and a clean and tidy worksite were key.