Actually as a population whole, no they don't look to improve their homes. After countless of trade shows in building, and with what mass group builders tell me, the focus on the typical NZ resident is not to improve the house by pouring $ into their own home. Let me elaborate.

In NZ residential building, they've never gone off to systematically build houses to scale and allowed for use of active ventilation (which requires a exceeding higher order of skill and requirement for 'air tight' construction) - not that such feature is important but it is a major cost in countries that do have these systems. It's been argued NZ's climate never warranted for such high performing homes. I mean insulation was not a code requirement until the late 90s. So what the architects continue to tell me is that if a person wants a better home, they don't pour $ in it to improve the home they live in but rather, they sell it and buy a NEWER home for the features they're after. There's a stigma that NZ houses are built poorly and that holding them too long creates problems = excessively higher maintenance costs.

Then there's the aspect of renovations that require lots of compliance from local councils, such as changing the plumbing around and electrical. It's a major headache. I'm not speak about putting up a conservatory or adding one of those 'Archgola' awnings. I'm talking the performance of the house in living comfort. New houses are far more comfortable than the state built, uninsulated homes despite how such old houses may have a certain appeal.

The worse part about NZ's old stock of homes is that no amount of $ you could pour into it would beat the performance of a newly built house at today's building code (well to within reason). A lot of $ can be spent on changing the windows, insulating the sub-floor, adding heat pumps, etc. but all these costs have paybacks well beyond the owner's anticipation of keeping the home. So the end result is houses on average change hands every 5 - 6 years.