Renovating our house

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The reason that we’ve been so quiet on this blog recently is that we’ve been preparing for the next big project: renovating our house. Tomorrow is the official start date, and we’ll be blogging progress as it unfolds.

In theory, it’s not a big renovation. Like most federation houses, we have four beautiful front rooms, which we’re leaving unchanged. Then comes the rabbit-warren of rooms at the back, lean-to extension, etc. While the new house will be just 2-4m longer, it will mean demolishing the back of the house and re-building. Fun!

Needless to say, the renovation will incorporate a number of green features, including:

  • A rammed earth wall, located in the middle of the house to increase the thermal mass of the house. (read more)
  • A reverse brick veneer wall along one side, again to increase thermal mass (the rest of the construction will be wood frame).
  • Double-glazing of all the windows (surprisingly hard to get in Australia).
  • Plenty of insulation, in the roof, walls and under the floor.
  • Carefully placed skylights to passively light the majority of the house.
  • Actively ventilated roof space, to keep us cool in summer.
  • Grey water system, with no moving parts.
  • Low VOC paints and building materials throughout.
  • Sustainable building products, where practical.

We’ll post more details on each of these aspects over the coming months. I’ll be the owner-builder and project manager, and will be directly involved in all the work for the next six months. Watch this space and wish us luck…

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2 thoughts on “Renovating our house

    Barbara said:
    May 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Hi James

    I visited your house yesterday – what an inspiration!

    I noticed in the handout that you have installed Smartflo gutters – which I have been considering installing for my home due to the large amount of leaf litter we get from neighbourhood trees. Are you able to let me know how you are finding them (ie their effectiveness, value for money and whether they have been able to cope with the really heavy downpour of rain we have had recently)?

      James responded:
      June 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      The Smartflo gutters have been good. The theory is that the leaves sit on top, are dried out by the sun, and then blown off by the wind. So far so good!

      The flow rate is a bit lower than some other gutter designs, but for us, the limiting factor is the size of the downpipes. A big advantage they have that they’re lower at the front than the back, so water can’t flood back into the walls of the house (a common failing of most gutter designs, and truly mad!).

      At the back of the house, we used a “slotted half round” gutter, as that has a higher capacity.

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