Kilbirnie villa

This 3-bedroom Kilbirnie villa is much warmer and drier now than when it was built in 1901.

Restored Kilbirnie villa

Location:  Kilbirnie, Wellington

Key features:

  • insulation
  • central heating
  • air lock

Like many Wellington houses, it is sited against a hill enjoying morning sun but losing the sunshine early, especially in winter.

The house was very draughty and matai flooring in the living areas is not carpeted, so the owners began by installing under-floor insulation. They also confirmed that their ceiling insulation was up to the minimum Building Code standards.

Other means to stop cold and draughts include wool curtains with thermal lining on all windows, and home-made draught-stop sausages for doors. The draught-stops were made from fabric filled with small stones and untreated wood shavings that were obtained at no cost from a timber yard.

A central heating system using gas-boiler radiators has replaced electric oil heaters.

Enclosing the front porch area created an air lock between the house and the outside. Insulation was built into the outside wall of the porch and it now takes less energy to heat the front bedroom, which has a window opening into the porch. The house stays warmer as the southerly wind no longer blows in when the front door is opened.

Future plans include adding another layer of ceiling insulation, and secondary double-glazing is a possibility. This costs less than regular double-glazing, and would better fit the older home’s character by preserving the original wooden window frames.