Sustainable House Day this Sunday

Gungahlin Al 10 September 2008 25

How much was your home heating bill this winter? Were you still rugged up at night and freezing when you got up in the morning despite the heater running flat out?

How would you feel about a home that you can get around in barefoot through winter, where you may only turn the heating on every few days, and never during a sunny day?

If you want to learn about things you can do to make your existing house more sustainable, or ideas to incorporate into a new home design, this Sunday is the day to do it.

Sustainable House Day features 13 homes in the Canberra and Queanbeyan areas open for inspection. You can preview the homes on the SHD website (including my place – “Harrison 1”).

Entry is $5 per person per house or $10 per family. Open times are 10am – 4pm.
There are also some schools open on Saturday 10am to 3pm and one office building – details on the website.

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25 Responses to Sustainable House Day this Sunday
Loquaciousness Loquaciousness 11:48 am 15 Sep 08

Aurelius said :

Having read this thread, and seen how much Al put into building his home responsibly, I have one thing to say:
GungahlinAl for Mayor!
Ditch that Sonic clown!

He’d get my vote …


Aurelius Aurelius 11:08 am 15 Sep 08

Having read this thread, and seen how much Al put into building his home responsibly, I have one thing to say:
GungahlinAl for Mayor!
Ditch that Sonic clown!

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 10:53 am 15 Sep 08

BTW apologies if you did get there and I didn’t get a chance to talk – felt like I barely came up for air all day. It was about a person every 2 minutes through the house.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 9:06 pm 14 Sep 08

The funds cover the advertising, website and other promotional expenses.
Wouldn’t imagine there’s much left over.

House hosts get $130 to cover cleaning costs – that’s all.
Great that rain last night – clay…

I-filed I-filed 8:41 pm 14 Sep 08

What charity are the funds raised going to?

Thumper Thumper 7:25 pm 14 Sep 08

Wow, excellent turn up!

As for builders, yeah, they can be a pain. They always seem to know exactly what you want, even before you tell them. And even when you tell them, they still go off and do their own thing…

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 7:03 pm 14 Sep 08

I don’t know how the other homes went, but I had just shy of 200 people through our place.

By far the feature of greatest interest was the hydronic heating. Branco will have to pay commission next year I think…And Classic, and Clockwork Kitchens, and EnviroFriendly…

I thought there would be a lot of “preaching to the converted” but many of the questions were fundamental ones. So clearly people are crying out for more information on how to do a better job with their homes. There is a message for government and candidates there I think.

One theme that was solid throughout is the frustration people are having with the builders they’ve been talking to. As my wife and I expressed in frustration numerous times through the construction process – “It shouldn’t be this hard!”
These days builders don’t actually build anything – they project manage subbies – and they’re not much good at that either.

So Canberra builders – why?
Any other business that had customers slapping down $400K would be fawning at their feet.

Why is it so bloody hard to deal with you?

BOZO BOZO 2:38 pm 11 Sep 08

Al, certainly was an experience with Strine! Some good, some bad. I will try to make it to your place on Sunday and if you are free would be glad to have a chat with you.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 12:55 pm 11 Sep 08

Hah! It felt more like a Grand Designs episode than I would have preferred at times.
Been interested to chat with you Bozo about your experience with Strine…

BOZO BOZO 10:05 am 11 Sep 08

Congratulations on your house Al. I was asked to open my new home (Strine design E house completed March this year) for sustainable house day however with a couple of aging pets I wasn’t prepared to put them through the trauma. It is unfortunate that the cost of building a sustainable house is significantly more expensive than a “standard” home. I guess we will reap the rewards over time with much lower energy and water costs.

nicolae nicolae 9:38 am 11 Sep 08

Thanks v much, Al. Reckon your house should have been on Grand Designs!

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 11:57 pm 10 Sep 08

On this topic, Gungahlin Community Council put in on ACTPLA’s Towards More Efficient Housing Issues Paper a couple of weeks ago. I’ve now posted the submission on our website.

On the reedbed Nic, yet to be constructed. We worked with a very good landscape designer named Jennie Curtis to put together our plans prior to the house being finished, so we could integrate aspects into the construction as needed. Jennie helped us incorporate everything we wanted into the landscape plans, including fruit trees, vege garden, full-size clothes hoist, large outdoor entertaining area, lawn for kids, biodiversity zone, buffering and shade to the south-west, and more.

The reedbed will take the (hopefully little) runoff from the street side and the only part of the roof that doesn’t go to the tank (about 2 sq m). fronting the street we’ll have to keep it shallow (backfilled with gravel and reeds, with open water limited to 300mm I think it is. Hopefully will attract some frogs. It will be along the kitchen frontage on the south side – so hopefully will provide some cooling in summer for the part that has to remain fairly open to the street for security reasons.

Grand designs = compulsory viewing here.

See you Sunday!

Tempestas Tempestas 9:02 pm 10 Sep 08

Great to see the well thought through design. Maybe “Grand Designs” needs to be compulsory viewing for all builders.

Maybe we should start a “word of mouth” listing for builders and other tradies who are open to modern ideas and listen.

Thanks for the insight Al and might be there on the day.

timgee2007 timgee2007 5:33 pm 10 Sep 08

I too am amazed that the local building industry – and behind it, local government – hasn’t embraced energy efficiency nearly as quickly or widely as they should have. In my perfect world (and hint, here’s a tip for those running for office in a month), the government would subsidise energy efficiency measures through low-interest loans, not that different to the old HECS system. You’d be lent money to install, say, a solar energy unit, and each year, pay a small amount off the loan. And, here’s the good win-win bit – not only have you got clean/efficient energy in place, you could encourage people to become more considerate of their energy use if the surplus energy generated by their system could be put back into the power grid – and credit given for this (or paid towards the loan).
(In fact, I have a feeling this approach isn’t a wonderful timgee2007 idea, but actually implemented in some parts of Germany ages back – and those people that got in early are now getting a nice cheque from the power company every few months as they’ve paid off the initial loan for solar installation!)

nicolae nicolae 4:13 pm 10 Sep 08

Thankyou – that’d be fantastic. No rush. Good luck with the deadline.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 4:01 pm 10 Sep 08

Will try to add some more description tomorrow but I have a deadline looming here today.
But yes – when you walk in after work and it is 22 degrees inside and the heating hasn’t been on in a week, you do congratulate yourself.
And yes – the fight to find a builder who will listen to you without you watching the contingency $$$$ getting added to the quote is the biggest battle in this town.

nicolae nicolae 3:35 pm 10 Sep 08

Also….Gungahlin Al – if you have time would you mind posting a bit of info about the design/construction of your reedbed for dealing with tank overflow/stormwater?

Like I said earlier, we are putting in a water tank. I don’t want to plumb the overflow pipe back into the stormwater drain but it is very hard to find info about how to deal with excess water overflowing from a tank without chucking it down the drain. A reedbed would also be a great way to cool the western side of the house. Thankyou!

nicolae nicolae 3:24 pm 10 Sep 08

Gungahlin Al – respect to you for putting money into choosing a house that doesn’t waste resources. I hope you congratulate yourself every time you walk in the door.

It’d be great if all the people who would love to do the same but can’t afford it were given a serious (not token) leg-up from the public wallet. Even if it was means-tested. After all, one private house’s insulation/solar power/double glazing etc. ultimately provides a public benefit.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 3:15 pm 10 Sep 08

Gungahlin Al – wow! Should be more of this stuff happening…

It is amazing in this day and age that so few builders in the ACT are embracing these technologies. We bought a house/land package in Dunlop in 1999 – and had to argue with the builder (Quadran) and Architect (of the inappropriately named “New Age Architecture”) at every step of the ‘design’ process. For example, the builder wouldn’t even consider Hebel walls or Steel roof… Architect challenged us on nearly every single window of the 21 in the house! (…and he was recent Uni graduate and should’ve known better). I have a design background, and was relatively-well exposed to emerging technologies…

We did put in off-peak in-slab heating (at same cost as central heating offered by builder), a pergola designed to cut summer sunlight and a heap of north-facing glass (though standard windows due to $$$). We have solar cells being installed very soon (under $4000, from ‘Origin’)… (thankfully we built before the market went nuts).

Simple orientation of house and rooms is the biggest single thing (with no/limited cost) you can do at design stage! Care with materials and insulation follows… If building, find a builder who is prepared to discuss ideas – or better still, one that can offer ideas…

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 3:00 pm 10 Sep 08

I neglected to mention that due to the various limitations on sustainability incentives at ACT and federal levels, we received not a brass razoo in financial assistance for anything we did on our house…
Toss in the interest rate rises plus not having owned anything throughout the property boom period, and suffice to say getting this joint built has been “challenging” financially.

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