Why do I need an Architect or Building Designer to design my home?
For most people the family home is the single biggest financial investment they will make in their life. If you plan to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on any investment, it makes sense to ensure you get the best possible return on that investment!
Appointing an appropriately qualified and experienced, independent professional to design your home generally represents a very small percentage of your overall budget and can save you money in the long term. With a broad understanding of design and construction, we can propose ways to reduce costs from the beginning. We act as your agent to ensure you get competitive quotes from builders & prepare a full set of construction documents to avoid the risk of budget blowouts once the project is on site.
A well designed passive solar home will provide savings on heating, cooling and lighting for the lifetime of the building and will generally have a higher resale value.
What are the advantages of a Custom Designed Home over a Project Home?
Only a Custom Designed Home can provide the flexibility and attention to detail required to meet the precise requirements of your family and your lifestyle. A catalogue Project Home will not meet your specific needs or address the unique characteristics of your site & the many factors that should be considered such as solar orientation, views, breezes, landscape, topography, streetscape, traffic, noise, neighbouring properties etc.
Home builders generally offer very little design flexibility using standard planning solutions, details, materials & finishes for all projects. With a bespoke, custom designed home you have input & control right from the beginning with an experienced professional acting on your behalf throughout the design, approvals & build process to ensure your interests are protected.
What exactly is a Passive Solar House?
Put simply a Passive Solar or Solar Passive House is designed in such a way that it uses the sun's energy to heat the home naturally (for free!) in winter while preventing unwanted solar gain in summer.
The single most important thing to get right is orientation. Careful consideration must also be given to the placement of windows and external shading elements such as eaves, solar pergolas and deciduous planting.
The house should be orientated to take advantage of the sun’s path throughout the year with primary rooms having a northerly aspect, reduced openings to the south side of the house & few or no openings facing west. The sun’s angle of incidence is higher in summer than in winter so eaves should be designed to shade external walls in summer and allow solar access in winter.
Internal concrete or masonry elements provide thermal mass, storing heat gained during the day in winter & releasing it back into the home slowly at night. In summer, the reverse applies with elements of high thermal mass used to keep internal temperatures consistent & reduce the need for mechanical cooling (air conditioning).
What makes an Energy Efficient Home?
Energy Efficient Homes reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and demands for non-renewable resources. They provide healthier, more comfortable living conditions and are significant less expensive to run than conventional homes.
With Western Australia’s harsh climate becoming more extreme every year, we need to design smarter, more energy efficient housing; housing which is location sensitive and addresses the unique characteristics of each site; housing which is not heavily reliant on artificial heating, cooling and lighting to maintain comfort levels and offers a sustainable future for us all.
Passive Cooling needs to be considered in addition to Passive Solar Heating. Opposing windows and breezeways provide natural cross ventilation. When combined with high ceilings, high level louvered windows or ceiling and roof vents, they can form a natural “chimney stack” effect allowing hot air to escape through the roof space.
Once these basics design elements have been incorporated into your home, additional features may then be added to make it work more efficiently and further reduce your environmental footprint. For example, high levels of insulation, low-e glass, LED lighting, solar photovoltaic panels, solar hot water systems, rainwater tanks, grey water recycling systems and of course, energy efficient appliances and water wise plumbing fixtures.
What are the key principles of Sustainable Design?
The term "sustainable design" is commonly used these days, but it is often misappropriated or misunderstood. There are three key pillars of sustainable design; ECOLOGICAL (does the project reduce negative impact on the environment?) ECONOMIC (how much did the project cost & is this proportionate to benefit & performance?) and SOCIAL sustainability (does it exclude a large portion of society?) Sustainable design gives consideration to all three factors.
The amount of energy, water & money required to construct a building (including the manufacture & transport all materials & labour), to run a building (heating, cooling etc) & to dispose of a building at the end of its lifetime all influence its sustainability. Waste generated during construction & at the end of the building life is also important (can materials be recycled or reused?) Sustainable design should be flexible to allow for future users & should support a sustainable lifestyle. Rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, passive solar design & renewable energy sources contribute to making a building truly sustainable.