The New Zealand Villa

Villas were the most popular home design from the late 1800’s through to World War One. Nowadays the Villa is often the much-loved subject of kiwi renovators with its ornate features, character charm, and use of native timbers.

Many Villas have undergone renovations which often includes introducing modern services such as gas, relining walls with plasterboard, and boxing in verandas. Of the 85,000 villas across New Zealand, many are still waiting renovation however, often these ones are colder, draughtier, lack modern amenities, with rooms poorly positioned for functionality and sunlight.

Many villas have design and layout issues such as lack of power points and lighting, poor layout, limited natural light, and separated service areas such as laundry rooms. These are things which can and should be considered when renovating.


Our inspection teams across New Zealand inspect villas every week, common issues can include:

  • Borer: it is not uncommon for older New Zealand homes to be subject to wood boring insects. By their nature, the presence of wood boring insects are generally only found through sighting flight holes in timber, or where an infestation may have caused evident damage. Due to the age of villas and the extensive use of timbers borer is to be expected, we generally recommend fumigating for borer as part of a maintenance schedule for a villa. On occasions we come across houses that have been undermined by borer eating away at structural timbers, in these cases immediate action is required to replace the affected timbers.

borer in floorboards

  • Asbestos: While Victorian/Edwardian villas would not contain asbestos originally, any renovations that may have been made between 1920 – 1990 may have used asbestos containing materials. During this period walls, vinyl, decorative ceilings, roof tiles and paints are just some of the materials that often contained asbestos.


  • Lead-Based Paint: If the house was painted at all prior to mid-1960’s it is likely to have some lead-based paint still remaining in the older layers. Lead-based paint was banned in 1979 when they discovered the health risks it poses to people and animals.

Caution lead paint

  • Structure: Villas are often seen to have undersized framing, sagging is often an issue in the ceiling and flooring due to this issue. We recommend adding new bearers and piles to the subfloor and extra support added to the load-bearing walls to provide support to ceilings and rafters. Renovations made to villas are at risk of being incorrect and we often see things such as a missing load-bearing walls.


Although villas are lovely buildings, we do recommend that caution is taken when looking at purchasing one. The best option is to always have a pre-purchase inspection completed so that you know the extent of the project you are undertaking.  

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