Thursday, 16 February 2012

Slow progress ...

So, it is 22 days since my last post.  I should have lots to report but I’m not sure that I do.
I’ve been doing lots more reading and research on sustainable building, got a bit obsessive about Structural Insulated Panels (one of the many areas I wish the Australian building industry was a bit more receptive to) and, of course, I’ve redesigned the house a few times over.  If you are interested in SIPS, I’ve added a few links to the Links page that you might be interested in.

I know I’ve said it before, but I think I have the design nailed at last.  I’m sure there will be minor fiddles and fixes (and the inevitable trimming to budget) but for the first time I’m actually happy with the external look and the layout/floor plan.  We have always been committed to three distinct zones (living / kids / parents) but have struggled with their layout, especially in respect to dealing with the slope of the block.  The placement of the laundry has always been problematic in that we want it up the SE corner with external access because that gives the best northern sun and privacy for a washing line.  That has always been at odds with the placement of the living / kitchen / dining which we also want at that same end (but obviously we don’t want the laundry in the middle of the living area!).  It is hard to articulate all the things that weigh into the design decision process, some of the key things for us have been:
·         View, Cut/Fill & Aspect
Maximising the view, minimising the cut and fill and balancing all of that with Northerly aspect has been an ongoing juggle.  We selected the block primarily because of the view and the fact that the contours are almost perfectly aligned to maximise it.  The downside is that is about 30 degrees further West than the ideal 90 off Solar North (remember, in the southern hemisphere, ideally you want your house aligned to True North (or “Solar North”) not Magnetic North.  To find the current magnetic declination at your location
click here.  If you are looking to understand the whole concept, try here or Wikipedia here.  For me, the difference is a 14° 52' bonus!  While our view is great from everywhere, the real feature is Mt Wellington so the further I can swing West the more of it we see!
·         Zones
Having the separate Parent / Kids / Living zones and after much deliberation deciding that we didn’t want the Parents zone either over or under the Kids.  Modern sound insulation might be great but not having to rely on it has to be better!

·         Wall area to internal area ratio
A wise architect reminded me of a simple fact that I lost sight of for a while.  That is that a box is the most efficient in external surface area to internal floor area.  I seem to get pretty fixated on designing to a certain number of sq/m in area while totally ignoring how much wall it would take to build it.  For example, in one of my designs I had 634sq/m of external cladding required (roof and walls) for a 316sq/m house (with 2.7m ceilings) a ratio of 1:2.  In comparison, a two story box would only require 491sq/m of external cladding (a ratio of 1:1.55).  Although the box might not look as pretty and might not work with your floor plan, using it as a starting point is a good thing!  I have certainly made more compromises here than I might have liked but at least I’ve thought about them and made conscious compromises! 

The new design
So, we have a new design.  I would love to say it is smaller, but it isn’t.  I would love to say that the cladding to area ratio is fantastic, but it isn’t (it is a little better though).  What I can say, is that it has everything where we want it, the entry and stairs work and it sits on the block pretty well.

Lower (click pic to enlarge)



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  2. Again, great plans. I agree you've got it with this one. My favourite part, which I am most eager to see, will be the view from the entry through to the downstairs decked courtyard. Magic!

  3. Jesus!!! A magnificent family got it in one in your blog when you recognised the importance of everyone sharing the space you are creating actually having their own space :-) Makes for very harmonious living....we are complete grand design addicts...I even joined the library so we could get every dvd.....sometimes the most enjoyable forms of research are not sitting at a computer trawling the internet but you sitting down with your beautiful wife in your living room and watching all of the revolutionary technology that this programme brings right smack bang into your current space...happy building guys and I am sure that master builder GR can give you some great advice :-) Love Shelleigh on