Why Passive House costs more

How much? The answer is, it depends.

By Peter Bielski, Ethos Homes managing director

I am proud of our team, our company and the reputation we have earnt delivering quality, high performance homes. We build to the certified Passive House standard when possible and of the homes we have built 5 have been certified. Increasingly people are understanding the benefits and the value of building a Passive House and are coming to us asking about how much a new home would cost.

It’s a tough question. And the honest answer is, it depends. 

Which isn’t what people want to hear, if they are in the market for a group-home build and are looking for a dollars per square metre figure. 

This is one of the most cost efficient high performance homes we have built in recent years (blower door test result of .41 @ 50Pa) and very compact at 100m2. See more pics here.

You can’t get a certified Passive House for the same cost as a group home build that only just meets the minimum standard of the Building Code. How could you? An Audi doesn’t perform like a Demio and the price tag reflects that.

There are lots of additional materials in a certified Passive House. There is more insulation, superior thermally broken windows and doors and other materials like the vapour control barriers. The walls are thicker. There’s the ducting for the mechanical ventilation, and the MVHR unit itself. There’s also more labour involved in the structure of the home, sealing penetrations and recessing the windows to the middle of the wall.

Before we even get on the tools, there are extra consulting fees: energy modelling, structural engineer, the certification process carried out by an independent third party, the MVHR design. Before ground is broken, I’ve spent hours in the offices of the architect or designer and other consultants. You can call it fancy names like “early contractor engagement” but we call it how we do business. Our clients benefit from our experience in delivering Passive Houses and it goes best when we have a close working relationship with the architect and/or Passive House designer. (We often collaborate with Karen Mason at Meta Architects.)

However, if you are looking at an architecturally designed custom home, there are decisions you can make that will likely put Passive House performance within reach of your budget. I’ll look at that in an upcoming blog post.