Damien McGill – Director

It's become my mission to change the way we design and build homes in Aotearoa. This is why I'm the Canterbury Chapter Lead for The Passive House Institute of New Zealand (PHINZ), and why I have created The Healthy Home Cooperation.

I became an engineer solely to design and build my own house. While, I’ve designed many houses and even started building one, I’m still to complete a home for myself. In saying that, I have completed plenty of healthy renovation projects and embarked on my own SuperReno in 2021 which, is a work in progress.

See, I believe that you need to walk the talk, do what you say and put your money where your mouth is. There are too many people in this world pushing a barrow for their own gain, one they don’t really believe in or are not willing to fully commit to.  

"To hear a little bit about my journey, click here to listen to the Homestyle Green podcast with Matthew Cutler Welsh and Simon Cator."




A Super Renovation

WHY: We needed to complete the earthquake repairs to the cladding and parts of the first floor are directly fixed Insulclad on timber frame, which carries the "leaky home" stigma.

There was no point bringing this property up to the same standard as the new ones going up around us, as we'd be competing with them for tenants in the future. We needed to go further.

My bet is that the tenants of tomorrow will appreciate warmer, more airtight accommodation that costs less to heat than the homes lived in by their peers.

HOW: By turning a negative into a positive and recognising that the polystryrene provides continuous thermal bridge free insulation that in addition to the wall framing gives R values of 3.55. We needed to protect this white gold! As we were overcladding, this gave us the opportunity to replace the original aluminium double glazed windows installed when the home was built in 2003.

Our budget doesn't allow us to do the work all at once. We have a five-year plan.

1. Do the South elevation this year.

2. The North elevation next year.

3. The East and West elevations in year 3.

4. Install Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation in year 4.

5. Increase ceiling insulation where possible in year 5.

Ideally the building consented works needs to be completed within two years, but it is usually possible to be granted a 1-year extension.

We are also monitoring the internal Enviromental Quality before during and after the work taking place.

WHAT: The following steps were undertaken to execute the works.

Waterblast the existing plaster cladding.

Epoxy inject cracking to blockwork.

Wrap with Pro Clima Solitex Extasana Adhero adhesive membrane.

Fix 70 x 40mm structural castellated cavity battens with 180mm screws and screwbolts, making sure the holes through the membrane are airtight.

Remove existing windows and doors, fully tape from membrane to inside of Gib with Tescon Extoria flashing tape.
Install triple glazed, low-e, argon filled PVC windows with Contega Exo connection strips.

Add 30mm XPS over PVC flanges to reduce thermal bridging further. Install flashings and profiled metal cladding or remesh and plaster as appropriate. Paint and replace gutters, flashings and trims as necessary. Install revels, plaster and paint as necessary.

The intention is to model the building with PHPP to see whether it is feasible to make one unit achieve the Enerfit standard for renovations. With the limited knowledge I had when I started this project, I couldn't justify the modelling to all stakeholders. In hindsight, I may live to regret this!

Performance Architecture
Builder: Cornerstone Construction
Plasterer: GG Plastering and Painting
Cladding: Dimond Roofing
Windows: NK Windows
Flashings: Centrefold Flashings
Membranes: Pro Clima
IEQ Monitoring: Tether

It takes many people working in cooperation to build a healthy Reno


We received Code of Compliance for the external works in Stage 1&2 on the 13th September 2023. That was a massive milestone!

Stage 5 is now complete, with R4 Terra Lana insulation added to the accessible roof spaces of the three units.
Stage 4; MVHR is on hold for budget reasons; bringing the mortgages down took priority over air quality, unfortunately. However in the meantime, we are doing something ventilation wise. We are running a trial on negative pressure ventilation. Read about it here.

In July 2024, we will start insulating the top of floor slab of Unit 3. This will involve removing the carpet and underlay, then glueing 25mm of PIR foam board to the concrete floor, then installing an engineered timber floating floor. This should improve both warmth and sharpness, but may compromise acoustics.

Of course, we'll monitor the situation to find out...


Stage 2 is now complete with triple glazing to all 4 elevations along with new steel cladding on the North elevation.
A range of low-e glass was installed in consultation with Metro Performance Glass and peer reviewed by thermal modelling.
Many thanks to the build team of
Sam Steele (aka Sam the scaffold man)
Rowan the Roofer (The Roofing Store)
Christian & Drew (Cornerstone Construction)
Martin, Jakub & Jonard (NK Windows)
Gerald (G&G Plastering)

It's What I do... It's What I Like...

Ph: 027 348 1110

Healthy Homes for all Kiwis. Housing is about people. People working together in cooperation to provide Healthy Homes for people to live in.
Damien McGill: Engineering Happy Healthy Homes for People & Planet