In New Zealand, we love open plan living which eliminates barriers such as walls and doors that traditionally separated distinct functional areas. The flow that open plan living provides is well espoused by real estate agents as a highly sought-after feature of a property, unless you are trying to comply with the healthy homes heating standard.
In the heating assessment tool provided by Tenancy Services, the living room is defined as the entire space a living room heater must be able to heat and needs to include any other connected space that is always open to the living room, such as an open plan kitchen, hallway or stairwell. Spaces are always open to each other if there is no solid barrier between them, however, the assessment tool notes that if you can close a door or window, you don't need to include the space beyond it.
Tip – If the heating assessment tool or the formula outlined in the healthy homes standards regulations is returning a heating capacity for a main living room that is higher than anticipated, consider installing a door to reduce the size of the room if it is practical to do so.
Before you do, check the heating capacity requirement with and without the door. If you are purchasing a new heat pump, one with a higher capacity may be more affordable than installing a door. If you have an existing heat pump and the heating requirement tells you to install another heat pump, installing a door to the hallway to reduce the size of the total area may be a viable option.
Landlords must meet the heating standard under the healthy homes standards, however they should consider what options are available to them when meeting their obligations. Here at Timely Building Consultants we carry out the healthy home assessment and provide the landlord with a report and certificate showing the level of compliance and what is required to bring the property up to the Healthy Home Standard.