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Buying an existing property

A brick house with a corrugated-iron roof

The type of house or apartment you buy will have an impact on your comfort levels, the cost of running and maintaining your home, the amount of energy and water that you use, your greenhouse gas emissions and the property's re-sale value. Taking a little time to consider the sustainability of a property before you purchase will save you time, effort and money in the long-term, and reduce your environmental footprint.

Top 10 considerations when buying an existing property

1. Choose sustainable

Where possible, choose a house or apartment that already includes important sustainable features, such as energy efficient electrical appliances and fittings, energy efficient heating systems and cooling systems, and adequate ventilation.

2. Use a sustainability consultant

An accredited building sustainability assessor can identify potential issues and shortcomings, and compare the heating and cooling requirements for a property and what might be needed to improve them. Find a local sustainability assessor using the Victorian Government’s Residential Efficiency Scorecard.

3. Choose a progressive body corporate (where applicable)

A progressive, sustainability-focused body corporate is more likely to approve and implement upgrades that improve sustainability. Speak to current tenants to find out whether the body corporate is supportive of sustainability upgrades.

4. What is the Green Building Council Australia rating for the building?

Green Star is an internationally-recognised sustainability rating system for multi-unit residential apartments which considers factors such as the indoor environment quality, transport, energy use, water use and materials used to build the property. Visit the Green Star Project Directory for more information.

5. What is the NatHERS rating for the property?

The Nationwide House Energy Rating (NatHER) is a Star Rating from 0 to 10 that measures how energy efficient a house is, based on its design. Since 2013 new Victoria apartments must achieve an average 6-star rating collectively for all sole-occupancy units (SOU) and not less than a 5-star rating for each individual SOU. New standalone homes must achieve at least a 6-star rating.

6. Is there solar access for passive heating, solar hot water and rooftop power generation?

And is there access to cooling breezes? Learn more about solar power and solar hot water.

7. Is the property close to public transport?

Can you choose an area that suits your lifestyle and reduces your dependence on transport? Is the property close to work, shops and schools?

8. Are the windows appropriately glazed and oriented for natural lighting and passive heating/cooling?

Find out more about energy efficient windows.

9. Is the property set up to save water?

Does the property have low water consuming plants? Is non-potable water (not of drinking quality) used to supply any irrigation systems? Are efficient toilets, showerheads and taps installed? Is there a rainwater tank? Learn more about saving water.

10. Have you considered the indoor air quality of the property?

Is there carbon monoxide monitoring in car parks (where applicable)? Have low volatile organic compounds been used in the fit-out and construction of the property? Is the property naturally ventilated?


Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard

Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard

A Scorecard energy efficiency assessment will help you identify where your home is using the most energy, give it a Scorecard energy efficiency star rating, and suggest ways to make it more comfortable and more energy efficient to run. Whether you're selling, buying, renovating, looking to cut power bills or feel more comfortable in your home, Scorecard can help.

Visit the Scorecard website


Smart Blocks logoSmart Blocks online toolkit

Smart Blocks is a national program to help improve the energy efficiency of apartment buildings. The Smart Blocks online toolkit can help you identify what improvements can be made to a building.

Read more


A builder hammering on a house frame against a blue sky

Building or renovating?

If you're building a home or undertaking a renovation, you might like to refer to our list of questions to ask your builder, architect or installer.

Read more

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