Bringing a vision to life: a healthy, joyful home that fits perfectly [Part 3]

Nadia and Gavin Sole live in a certified Passive House home in Richmond, Christchurch built by Ethos homes. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 of their story).


Material choices

The Sole Passivhaus is noteworthy for the considered choice of materials. “I am very particular. I had a very clear vision about what I wanted to create: a very healthy environment, something environmentally aligned with our values,” says Nadia. 

“I had a list of priorities. Healthy was at the top. Having lots of colour that gave the house a really happy feeling, that was very important too. We didn’t have to compromise on that! I’d been doing some research and for a while it seemed I had to choose the least bad of the bunch when it came to paint.

“Then we met Jonny from Pure Eco Painting via Pete and he told me about the Natural Paint Company. I’d literally never heard of it but it’s been operating in Christchurch for five years already. I met the owner, really liked the product, talked more with Jonny and became very keen to use it. And Jonny and his team were exceptional and a complete pleasure to work with.”


The cladding is a mixture of black corrugated iron and Abodo, a thermally-modified product made from New Zealand radiata pine. Thermal modification makes the wood more stable and much more durable, able to replace treated timber in outdoor applications. Abodo was also used for the decking.

“It’s brilliant. We get a lot of comments about the Abodo. Avoiding toxic CCA-treated timber was fundamentally important to us. We were looking at cedar but we had questions beyond its functionality. How was it processed? Where did it come from? Abodo was Pete’s recommendation and both Gavin and I really liked it.”

Triple-glazed windows are from Weathershield windows and doors, full-width thermally-broken aluminium joinery built around a warm uPVC core. They contribute significantly to the thermal performance of the home and to the quiet, peaceful internal environment. They are also an example of the Sole’s long-term view.

“A house built to the minimum standard of the Building Code is obviously cheaper to build but it doesn’t perform well and it ages badly. We wanted something that we felt good about building and that in 30 years would still be current. In 20 or 30 years, triple-glazing will be standard and in 30 years this house will still be a great house.”

One of the Sole boys has asthma and this influenced the decision to go with floorboards; there is no carpet anywhere in the house because of the dust it collects. Nadia considered many different options for flooring before discovering another local company had an ideal solution. The Natural Flooring Company provided a laminate product called Majestic, manufactured in Europe from new and recycled natural materials, with E1 certification of no toxic off-gassing. “It’s fully compostable and fade and scratch resistant. And it wasn’t really expensive, we were able to have it through the whole house, including the bathrooms.”

All these choices combined to produce a great result. “When we moved into the house, there was no smell at all [from off-gassing VOCs]. No smell of paint or glue. It was great. Because it was mid-winter, it took a while to get the house up to temperature but now it functions so perfectly, it’s really nice to be in it. It’s a clear, clean house.” 

And regrets? Maybe just a little one. “There’s one white door I don’t love and I might get around to painting it one day.”


Part 1: The right builder | Part 2: Certification |     Part 3: Healthy materials