WoFs for 50 more houses
A comprehensive housing audit was just one of the 23 solutions proposed by the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation [RWT] team two years ago.
Just completed, of the 101 homes surveyed, 38 percent didn’t have any form of insulation, 76 percent used a wood burner as the main source of heating but of these 15 percent of families struggled with affording wood and having adequate dry storage available.
In gaining funding for audit, RWT Project Manager Erena Mikaere-Most also secured funds to trial a building Warrant of Fitness [WoF] check on ten properties.
Helped by Ruapehu District Council building inspector Bryan Jacobsen, Ruapehu Fire Safety Officer John ‘Luigi’ Hotter and electrician father-in-law, Lou Most the check was such a success it’s now being offered to another 50 families.
“The main thing the survey and test warrants affirmed for us is we need to work on having warm houses,” Ms Mikaere-Most said.
“We thought we had an idea of what was going on but I think some of the conditions were worse than we expected.
“In one of the houses surveyed, they had to move out because it was too unsafe, the survey had to be completed outside of the house”
“I think it was the family home and there were a lot of memories, the family didn’t want to demolish it and didn’t want to move.”
As well as looking at the safety and warmth of properties in Raetihi, Ohākune, and Waiouru, residents were also asked what they thought of their houses.
“One person said they, ‘love the house leaks and all’, another, ‘it’s a roof over our heads, not flash but it’s a house’.
“Interestingly one of the most provocative themes was that people wanted their children to have pride in the homes they live in.
“The biggest aspiration for most was to own their home.”
In a response to the need for adequate heating, cost is perceived as one of the major barriers.
During her research, Ms Mikaere-Most has found a few iwi funding initiatives including two being run by Atihau Whanganui Incorporation and Ngāti Tūwharetoa.
“The Atihau insulation programme has been here for a little while and not that many whānau know about it, it’s totally free, 100 percent subsidized, where as sole government schemes are only part subsidised.
“Having completed the trial and the survey, we are now rolling out WoF checks to 50 houses around the region.”
Proposed solutions are designed to create safer, healthier homes, implement heating and insulation upgrades, increase education around the associated benefits and more cost-effective house habits, as well as support whānau address barriers to home ownership.
Solo mother Moana Te Kura’s life has changed for the better since having a WoF and RWT housing audit done as part of the initial roll out.
While aware heating with oil column heaters was never ideal, full time work all while caring for three, and at times four, children left little time to explore other alternatives.
“It took a lot of convincing for me, here you just learn to adapt.
“I didn’t really want a heat pump and the first thing was how are we going to pay for that?
Funding was sponsored in part by in kind from a Raetihi based community organisation and through the RWT WoF trial project.
“It’s a joy to come home to a warm house, it’s nice to wake up warmer and there is no more waking up and putting on 100 layers of clothing.
“Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, to know we are safe has made life easier.”
The RWT house WoF audit also identified a couple of unsafe plug sockets as well as a light fitting at the property which have also been fixed under the programme.
The next step is to begin retro-fitting insulation and are awaiting to hear back from a heating grant application.
A full findings report on the RWT housing audit will be available on the website: ruapehuwhanautransformation.com in the next couple of weeks.