Affordable (cost-effective sustainable) housing

Unaffordable dwellings do not have the following characteristics:

a) Urban & suburban dwellings located on public transport.

b) Attached, either simple (plain) terraces or cubes (as close as possible to cubes), with hip or gable trussed roofs. The next priority is semi-detached houses in cubes, and the last is detached houses each within a cube with hip or gable roofs.

c) Efficient, and regular, floor plans.

d) Cost-effective sustainable construction.

e) Minimum windows for maximum area of insulated envelope using sheet bracing.

f) Hillside dwellings as above, and without excavations or retaining walls.

g) Sunlight. All dwellings aimed at sunlight. Views sought only where they don’t reduce the above.

h) Kerb-side car-parking. On-site parking uses part of the best land of all normal houses.


Perhaps the most cost-effective modern terrace is the 3-storey St James, 245 Adelaide Rd. Each house with 3 beds & 2 baths in 100sm, plus carport & shed


WCC wanted the old Sunday School demolished because it didn’t comply with the vehicle access rules (double entry) and their urban designers failed it. It took three Resource Consents to get consent without changing a detail.


Perhaps the most sustainable (architecturally) apartment building is ‘Palazzo.’ A terrace of four 3-storey houses facing north was added to the old 1926 building in 1997-99. Its eight 1st and 2nd floor apartments and four roof-top houses are rarely for sale.  It has 100% NBS rating.


Fake windows are painted onto some insulated walls to make it comply with the most successful timeless design rules.

WCC’s urban designers failed it because it has a parapet on its footpath veranda instead of a balustrade. The parapet was designed to give the first floor apartments good privacy and some insulation from traffic noise.

The best cities have streets of cubes, or near-cubes, making long terraces each side, or terraces around parks and along waterways.

Hillside and detached

Perhaps the best hillside cottage is at 2 Rakau Rd.  It has no retaining walls and almost no excavations, covers 100% of its 80sm site and faces north


It took less than six months to negotiate the Resource Consent. A neighbour is unhappy.

Daryl Cockburn


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