Browse our renovation FAQ


Got a burning question on home renovations? Here’s a list of some Frequently Asked Questions and answers that home-owners often ask us. If there’s something else you’d like us to answer, or you want talk to us about your renovation, please get in touch. You can submit an enquiry or call 0800 33 60 33.

  • What can Refresh add to my home improvement project?

    Refresh is a specialist renovation builder. Most builders do both new homes and renovations.  Because we specialise in renovations, we have developed systems and processes that are best practice for renovations. We are focused, efficient, cost effective and deliver great outcomes.

    We are supported by many of the best known product manufacturers in the industry and we have a supply partnership with PlaceMakers, New Zealand\'s largest building merchant.  This means we can pass the best prices on to you and that you can feel assured that working with us, you will achieve the outcomes you desire.

  • Why use Refresh for kitchens and bathrooms?

    Kitchens and bathrooms are the most complicated part of a house and involve the co-ordination of nearly all of the sub trades (e.g. designers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, cabinet installers, tilers etc.). The quality and cost of the project depends on effectively scheduling, briefing and managing these sub trades.

    Most kitchen and bathroom specialists focus on only one aspect (e.g. design services or the fittings and cabinetry), and leave the home owner to manage the rest of the building process and other specialist work required.

    Refresh helps take cost out by working with you to make all the decisions required to ensure a quality result is achieved for least hassle, and co-ordinating all required specialists.

  • Is Refresh going to cost more?

    No, Refresh is very cost effective. Because of our scale and industry partnerships we buy at a better rate than typical renovation builders and can therefore be more cost effective for our customers.

    Our focus on careful project management also saves significant time and money for our clients.  Most people who have undertaken renovations will have experienced delays and budget over runs due to the poor co-ordination or inconsistent briefing of sub trades.  Refresh addresses both of these areas with formal project management processes.

  • Is project management going to cost me more?

    Project management takes cost out of the project. By managing the entire project and having good processes we are able to take inefficiencies and costs out of the project and avoid those unexpected surprises.

  • Is Refresh right for me?

    While it might be a cliché, it’s true that for most New Zealanders their home is their most valuable asset. It’s crucial that the renovation specialists who work on them are professionals with a high level of expertise.

    Houses used to be fairly basic in their construction, but the products, systems and construction techniques that are used in today’s homes are far more complex. It’s now common to install double glazing, full home insulation, special purpose wall linings, advanced heating and ventilation systems, energy efficient appliances, home automation, etc., with many of these requiring highly trained specialist installers.

    The car industry is a good analogy. Features such as air conditioning, car audio systems, air bags, electric windows and traction control used to be expensive add-ons, but now they are standard. In the past people used to tune and service their own cars, but no one dreams of doing that these days, they take it to the professionals.

  • How do I prepare for a kitchen renovation?

    To get on your way to getting your new dream kitchen, start by gathering together ideas, designs, and your own thoughts to a new kitchen scrapbook. This might be a physical book with written, printed and cut out ideas. Or for the modern world a collection of weblinks in a favourites file. This step can take as long or as short as you like.

    Measure up the available space for the new kitchen. 

    You will need a professional measure later in the process however it is important to make a start on your design. The available space might include removal of walls and other building works like windows and doors. Measure as if these were already complete.

    Importantly also make a list of the appliances that you are intending to build into your new kitchen. Model numbers are usually enough to find the accurate dimensions online. Your new kitchen cabinets will need to be able to accommodate these whether they are new or recycled from your current kitchen.

  • What is the best paint to use on kitchen walls?

    When choosing a paint for your new kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to select one that will deliver moisture resistance and superior durability. Dulux Wash & Wear Kitchen & Bathroom has been designed specifically to tackle just about anything a bathroom or kitchen can throw at it. Not only does it deliver superior durability (allowing you to wash the walls regularly without harming the surface), but it is also scuff, mould and bacteria resistant so is perfect for those wet and damp kitchen and bathroom areas. Visit to read more.

  • What is EECA?

    Under the government's current Warm up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme, home owners can get funding to help insulate their homes and install clean and efficient heating.

    The programme aims to help 188,500 homes in New Zealand become easier and cheaper to heat - making them warmer and healthier as a result. They have committed to spending $347 million on this programme.

    Refresh have built up a network of reliable trade specialists who have the best rates. Accessing the government grants can be confusing. Refresh can identify what grants are available and help you to access them. If you would like a Refresh team member to contact you, please click here.

  • Can I install a wood burner

    The National Environmental Standards (NES) regulations provide that the wood burner standard comes into force on 1st September 2005.

    Design Standard: The design standard for a wood burner is a discharge of less than 1.5 grams of particles for each kilogram of dry wood burnt (g/kg).

    The discharge must be measured in accordance with the method specified in the Australian / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4013:1999 – Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of flue gas emissions:

    Thermal Efficiency Standard: The thermal efficiency standard for a wood burner -

    (a)  is the ratio of useable heat energy output to energy input (thermal efficiency) and;
    (b)  must be not less than 65%.
    The thermal efficiency must be calculated in accordance with the method specified in the Australian / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4012:1999 – Domestic solid fuel burning appliances – Method for determination of power output and efficiency.

    What does it apply to? Under the regulation a wood burner is defined as:-

    A domestic heating appliance that burns wood; but
    does not include –
    (a) an open fire; or
    (b) a multifuel heater, a pellet heater, or a coal burning heater; or
    (c) a stove that is –
         (i) designed and used for cooking; and
         (ii) heated by burning wood.

    Where does it apply? Regulations state that the standard applies to woodburners installed in certain properties:
    Discharge from woodburners installed in certain properties after 1 September 2005 prohibited

    The discharge of particles to air from a woodburner installed after 1 September 2005 in a building or property with an allotment size of less than 2 hectares is prohibited.
    Subclause (1) does not apply if the discharge from the woodburner complies with the design standard and the thermal efficiency standard.
    The woodburner standard applies to all new woodburners installed in urban areas in New Zealand after 1st September 2005.  For the purpose of this standard an urban area is defined as a property with a lot size of 2 hectares or less (20,000 m2). Information on the size of a lot is available from the property title or Land Information Memoranda (LIM) report.

    NOTE: This means that wood burners that do not comply with the standard can still be sold and installed into homes on a property with a lot size of over 2 hectares, unless their regional plan prevents this.

    The Standard does not apply to existing wood burners – unless they are reinstalled into a property. People will still be able to operate or install open fires, multi fuel burners, pellet fires, and wood/coal stoves designed for the primary purpose of cooking, and coal burners, unless their regional plan prevents this.

    Implementation: From 1st September 2005, all wood burners installed into a house or dwelling, on a lot size less than 2 hectares, must meet the design (emissions) and thermal efficiency standards outlined above. This includes reconditioned and/or second-hand woodburners.

    This information and images was supplied by The Fireplace. The Fireplace has been radiating warmth and style into New Zealand homes for over 25 years. They are the exclusive New Zealand supplier of leading international brands, Jetmaster, Heat & Glo and Gazco fires.

  • What else should I do while insulating my home?

    Re-cladding your house is a surprisingly viable option which can significantly increase the value of your home. Additionaly while the cladding is off, you will have the opportunity to address other aspects of a renovation, (such as insulation, wiring, plumbing etc) in a much more cost effective way. The savings you made on the other sub-trades because you've got the cladding off go a long way towards covering the cost of re-cladding.

  • What are star ratings on appliances?

    Gas Energy Efficient Label with four highlighted sectionsStar rating labels are very useful in assisting to select an energy efficient gas heating appliance. The main thing to remember is they are best used to compare one gas heater with another. They can not be used to compare appliances of different fuel types. The star rating label shows four important pieces of information:

    1. Maximum Heat Output: This is the highest heat output and has been checked and verified by an independent laboratory. Use this figure to make sure that an appliance is big enough to heat the space required.

    2. Annual Energy Consumption: This is the amount of energy an appliance would use if it were run for 2½ hours on high setting and 2½ hours on low setting for 100 days per year. It is unlikely that a consumer will use exactly this amount of energy but is very useful as a baseline to compare one appliance with another. Be cautious of suppliers who are quoting only a thermal efficiency figure rather than displaying a star rating label with annual energy consumption. It is likely that the efficiency quoted is that on the highest setting. As you usually use the appliance on a lower setting as often (if not more often) than on full, the absence of the star rating label may indicate an appliance which operates at poor efficiency at other than full fire.

    3. Star Band: This is a visual representation of the annual energy consumption and is great for a quick reference. It should be used for comparing one gas heating appliance with another. Remember it can not be used to compare appliances of other fuel types.

    4. Safety Assurance: A star rating label is part of the rigorous Australian appliance safety approvals regime. The label can not be issued until an appliance has passed both extensive safety and efficiency tests. The presence of the star rating label gives an additional level of assurance that the product has been independently verified as meeting safety requirements.

    For more information about energy efficient appliances, click here to visit Rinnai's website.

  • Which water heating solution is the right one for my home?

    Planning a new bathroom is a great time to think about the correct water heating solution for your home. Every home has unique expectations of what they expect from their water heating solution, some like hot water immediately, and some are more conscious about a more eco-friendly solution. Refresh can help you decide the right water heating solution for your home.

    If you require endless hot water, you'll be interested in gas continuous flow. If you are looking for something with a lower upfront cost, electric stored water could be the solution you are looking for, and if you would like to minimise your carbon foot print, you may want to consider a solar water heating solution.

    We recommend Rinnai water heating solutions for your bathroom renovation. Rinnai make daily life a pleasure and offer a range of water heating solutions. Driven by self-imposed demands to constantly improve performance, energy efficiency and affordability, their engineers design solutions that deliver real benefits for home owners.

    Continuous flow hot water: This type of hot water system produces endless hot water. Continuous flow is a very energy efficient water heating system, because it’s only on when you need hot water. It’s also family friendly – there’s no risk of “last one in gets the cold shower”. With a controller installed, you’ll be able to change the temperature of your water, quickly and easily and set it to exactly the temperature you require. Whether you would like to install your continuous flow system indoors or outdoors, you’ll be sure to find a solution that is right for you from Rinnai's range. If you’re upgrading from a stored hot water system, you could end up with more space in your home.

    Stored Hot Water: Stored hot water systems have a lower upfront cost and are easy to install. There are a range of tank sizes available for both domestic and commercial applications. Ensure your hot water system is future proofed by purchasing a Rinnai solar enabled electric water storage system which can be easily integrated with a solar water heating system at any time in the future.

    Solar Water Heating:Many parts of New Zealand are sunny enough to harness solar energy. Solar energy will always be very effective on clear, summer days, but for when it’s not, Rinnai offer gas or electric boost options. This ensures you get the most out of your water heating solution while doing your bit to save the planet.

    Refresh can assist you with your decision and your bathroom renovation. The advantage of this is the bathroom renovation will be undertaken efficiently, and cost effectively, and you will have only one point of contact throughout the renovation. If you would like a Refresh team member to contact you, please click here.

    If you would like to read more about Rinnai's water heating solutions, visit

  • Variations

    One of the aspects of renovations which makes them different from building a new home, is that there are some uncertainties before the project commences. For example, the condition of the existing framing, the wiring and the plumbing are difficult to establish prior to the linings being removed.  These uncertainties are just a reality of renovating.  However, because we are renovation specialists, we understand and are experienced with dealing with these and you can be assured we will deal with them in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.  On our quotes, we clearly identify any uncertainties.  We discuss with you the potential implications of these and the options for dealing with them to ensure you feel comfortable before we commence the project.