Archive for January, 2010


Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

tcomboClick on this image to bring up a larger and somewhat easier to read version. It’s hard to make it fit into the constraints of this blog due to the proportions of the actual building.

I’ll take credit for the floor layout bar the ensuite and bathroom which are Darren’s ideas based on what we described we wanted.

In the elevation you are looking at the “front” of the house, despite this actually facing away from the road. This has the view that I put up as the header image for this blog. All the windows on this side are awnings as it is windy and conventional sliding windows would rattle incessantly.  You’ll notice very few windows to the south and west (top and left of the floorplan) as these are where the predominant winds blow in, bringing dust in summer and driving rain in winter. There is one large expanse of glass to the north wall of the house, and this is intended to help with passive solar heating.

We’ve stepped down the verandah and shed to suit the contour of the housing site, and this will also keep us within the council’s stipulated 1.5 metre maxiumum depth excavation for the housing site. As yet we are undecided on whether to pave or deck this area, paving being non combustible is the smart choice but decking can be so sexy and seductive it may just win out in the end.

Other designed features:
The large amount of solid wall around the entry. We’ll have the fireplace in this corner and the massive amount of thermal mass will mean heat continues to radiate into the room long after that fire has burnt out.  Above this we’ll have a fan that pulls the hot air above the fire and flows it back gently into  the sleeping and wet areas and this will be our heating.

The return verandah. The slope and cut in of the site of the house means this verandah will virtually prevent the sun hitting the westerly wall at all, winter or summer. The eastern side (the view) has poly carbonate offset from the window in angles carefully worked out by Darren so the winter sun will penetrate the house until about 11.30am where I’ve calculated that in summer that verandah will already be shading the house by around 9.30am. On the northern side of the house, the only side without the return, summer sun is excluded all day while in winter the direct sunlight will flood in almost all day to gently heat the slab.

The not so open plan. We’ve lived in a house that was almost completely open excepting the bedrooms and bathrooms. It was very noisy and bloody expensive to heat and cool as well. With this design we have one main living area which can be shut off from the rest of the house. All the rooms beyond this can also be isolated, important for climate control as well as noise.

Big thanks yet again to Darren for his work on this project and for letting me publish the designs.

The final drawings

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Darren from Wise Drafting Pty Ltd has sent over the final drafts of the final drawings for our approval before he gets on with spitting out the numerous detail drawings and so on we will need to present to the certifier for final checking. I also have his permission to post the drawings, so there is something for you come back and look for later on this week.

I have 3 more boxes left to tick, then we are finally, FINALLY off to council for the last of the approvals we need to get started on building our dream home. Right at this stage we are technically allowed to do very little on the block within the approved development zone and I can’t wait to get that final approval in hand so we can call in the neighbour and start digging dirty big holes 🙂

Right now we are finishing off details we have for all the internal aspects of the house. I kid you not we have a dozen A5 notebooks full of notes and sketches detailing things such as the shed, the verandahs, plumbing, kitchen, driveway, landscaping and the laundry. Once we have this sorted and that final bloody approval it’ll be trailer on the truck and off to the reclamation yards looking for all the beautiful recycled hardwood and fittings we’ll need to finish off the interior.

I built a solid timber kitchen featuring huge benchtops and doors and drawers in American Oak  in the last house we had that came up an absolute treat, and this time round I’d love to have something like red ironbark, red gum or jarah depending on the availability of suitable wood. Recycled timber has a true beauty of its own due to age and the abuse it gets through its previous life that you just cannot get with new timber. Old kitchen pics can be found here. I’m sure you’ll agree that what I built was a lot more pleasing to the eye than what was there.

Happy New Year

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Hope you all had a great New Years, and wishing all readers all the best for the coming year.

There is little in the way of news to report, so here are a few updates on where we are and what we are looking forward to over the coming months.

We’ve struck a deal with a neighbour who owns some fantastic boys toys (he owns a business that provides machinery and operators to major road construction, mines and so on) to get the housing site cut to our specs.

Building Consents
Currently waiting on the final detail drawings, and waiting to hear back from the certifier so we can get the correct tests done on the samples of building material we will be using. The samples are tested for various descriptors of strength to be sure the house will stand in extreme weather events and potential earthquakes.

Anything that doesn’t require the input of others is flying along. We now have over 2000 saplings ready to go with another 1000 or so in various stages of development. By autumn we will have somewhere around 5000 saplings to plant that will give us an instant landscape.

These will form the wind barrier protecting the house from the gales that whip over the cleared landscape around us. They will also be used as a living barrier to protect the housing site from bushfires. There will be a minimum distance of 40 metres between the house and any trees. The trees will be planted in ascending height in towards the house, essentially creating a lip that wind will sweep up and over. The theory is any fire front and embers will follow the wind pattern and be deflected over the house.

As corny as that sounds, there are many examples from some of the worst firestorms over the past century that houses using these living barriers have a far greater survival rate than those that do not, and for the sake of the $1000 or so it has cost us to raise just these trees, we think it’s an added layer of protection worth having.

We have a variety of plants from groundcovers to lavenders, small to medium shrubs and medium to large trees. Providing we can get them in the ground and established before the frosts of winter set in, by spring the landscape should be taking shape.

Christmas (and my birthday close by) have been a great opportunity to get family and friends to combine the two and buy me something I can use for the coming build. Some cool new tools and consumables include a 2 handled spade (digs holes like a post hole digger but without needing the space to spin a handle), a tacking hammer (drives staples by striking like a hammer) and a 5 kilos of welding rods to get the mold system welded together.