Here’s a run-down on what you can expect to find when you’re looking at houses in New Zealand.
Typical New Zealand homes are single story and detached. But recent population growth has seen big increases in apartments and semi-detached “townhouses”. New Zealand is urbanising.
Most of the houses are made of timber. Brick is sometimes used as cladding over a timber frame, but is seldom the main building material.
A lot of houses have corrugated iron roofs, which is a legacy from pioneering building techniques in the 19th century. Some Kiwis get quite nostalgic about the drumming sound of rain on the iron.
Central heating is rare, although far more prevalent in newer houses. Since 2008 the government has subsidised better heating and insulation in many homes.
Double glazing is also rare. Again, it’s more frequent in new houses, but if you hold out for it, you’ll be searching long and hard.
Some houses built between the 1980s and 2005 had problems with water penetration. Watch out for stuff called “monolithic cladding” from this period. In some cases repairs have cost more than the property.
Some areas are on gas, but lots aren’t. In a lot of houses electricity is the sole source of energy. Some people cook on bottled gas.
Most local councils (especially urban ones) make it easy for residents to separate glass, plastic and paper from their rubbish for recycling.
Auckland and Wellington are investing heavily in public transport, but it’s still a long way from perfect. Expect to require a car.
It’s impossible to get more than 128 km from the sea, anywhere in the country. So it’s nice to know that one out of every three Auckland households has a boat.