Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Secrets to a fabulous entry space for your home

The entry to your home can be a wonderfully functional space, yet many Australian homes don’t have one.

So what is an entry?

An entry is a transitional space, where your family and guests can be greeted, organised and redirected to other spaces within and around your home.  Your entry needs to (not only look great) but most importantly it needs to function well for it’s intended use, and you may need more than one!

The following 3 easy steps will guide you through the design process of creating well designed entries for your home.

1. Confirm number of entries required

Most Australian homes have a front and a rear access, as a result you will need to design two separate Entries for your home. We call these entry spaces the Front entry and Mud Room (for the rear entry).

2. Performance specification

You need to think about the way you use the current entries into your home. Write a list similar to the following for both the Front entry and the Mud Room:

Front entry

Needs to have a:

  • Store space for shoes, handbags, coats, school bags and a broom
  • Seat to put on your shoes
  • Powder Room close to this space for tradespeople and family to use
  • Enough space for you and your family to be able to fit into (1m²/person is adequate)
  • Lay off space for side table
  • Covered area outside front door for 5 people (5m²)
  • Direct access to the car space

NOTE: The front entry space:

  • is usually the best place to locate a stair to an upper level
  • should provide visually and acoustic privacy to interior spaces of your  home

Mud Room

Needs to have a:

  • WC (toilet)
  • Shower
  • space for garden shoes
  • storage for light garden & laundry items
  • seat space
  • fold-away-laundry
  • direct access to kitchen area

3. Draw a plan to scale

​It is important you draw a plan to scale so you can discuss the requirements of the entry with your builder (and any other trades that will be involved in the construction of your entry). The plan doesn’t need to be perfect

3 steps

  1. Study a few entry plans (search “plans” on the Internet) in conjunction with your Performance Specification
  2. Work out how much space you will need based on space availability, your family (eg. 5 x 1m²) and the furniture you plan to add to this space
  3. The easiest way to draw to scale is using grid paper, a standard ruler and a pencil is, or you could try a phone app.

Space saving ideas

  • Use a store chest as a seat as well as storage for shoes (storage/seat)
  • Locate your storage/seat outside your entry instead of inside
  • Even a 300 deep cupboard is better than none

Tips

  • Don’t have too many doors in an entry.  This will leave little wall space for a seat or side table
  • Always include storage for shoes and bags in your design
  • Ensure other rooms cannot be viewed from within the entry space
  • Never design your entry to open onto your private living space
  • Ensure your Front entry area is not externally accessible to your outside living spaces (eg. Verandah’s)

Many Australian homes do not have a well designed entries, resulting in uncomfortable transition spaces that are home to loads of shoes and bags littering the floor.  By following the 3 steps above you can greatly improve privacy, security the functionally of your new or existing home.

The Environmental design green building and sustainable architecture

The terms “environmental design”, “green home design” and “sustainable architecture” are just a few of the terms that people use when trying to describe a home that is designed to minimise it’s impact on the natural environment. In this article we use the term “environmental design”.

Good environmental design positively effects the thermal comfort of a building allowing the occupants to be comfortably warm in winter and cool in summer – with minimal energy usage.

There are 6 main areas that need to be considered when planning your eco friendly house or renovation. The information given in this article applies to sites at a latitude of approximately 32°, which covers the greater Sydney area in NSW, including Newcastle and Wollongong, and Perth, in Western Australia.

Design

Ideally you should purchase a site that is flat and has its backyard facing north towards your view. This will make designing an environmentally friendly house or passive solar home much easier.

Sun and orientation

You will need to spend a good amount of time assessing direct sun penetration onto your site before you start designing your passive solar home.  If it were practical, and you oriented all the internal spaces in your home to north, it would be relatively straightforward to build a green home that was thermally comfortable all year round. However in the non-ideal “real-world” this is rarely possible. A great book to use when planning around sun and shade for you building is “Sunshine and Shade”, written by R. O. Philips of theCSIRO. Use the basic rules listed in this book to aid you when planning the various spaces in your home.

Sun control devices

There are many methods of controlling sun penetration in your home helping a house stay cool in summer and warm in winter.

Roof overhangs: For homes that are drenched in full sun ensure that all windows have a standard window and door shading depth of 900mm.  600mm is the normal project home depth and that is not enough.  This depth can be slightly altered depending on the orientation of the external walls to north.

Other control devices: If you have no choice in how you orient your living areas, and are forced, for example, to orient them towards the west (the harshest of all options) you will need to get creative. One solution is to plant deciduous trees to the west about ten metres from your house.  This will block hot afternoon summer sun and allow winter afternoon sun to penetrate through to your home. If this is not an option due to views or council regulations, the best solution is an operable (adjustable) window device like an awning or louvre system.

Room orientation

If you have shading on your site you need to think about the room type and design to get the optimum sun penetration into the space; e.g., locate laundries, bathrooms and storerooms to the west or south.  These rooms can be physically cut off to control the hot western sun or the cold resulting from a southern facing orientation. Bedrooms work best located on the east because most people love being or drenched in morning sunlight. (However a southern orientation is a worth considering for shift workers, because the bedroom will then be darker.)  Leave the north to living areas as people spend most of the daytime in these areas.

Insulation

To save on heating and cooling costs in your new green home it is essential that all your external walls and ceilings are insulated.  All cladding types have an R-value, the higher the R-value the longer it will take for the outside temperature to enter you home.

Many houses today are timber framed and without any extra insulation these homes will not be hot and cold in the wrong seasons but it will also rate poorly with BASIX (BASIX is the Building Sustainability Index.).  There are too many products to name, but insulation generally come in the form of “batts”, air cell blankets (like bubble wrap), loose pulp, and “sheets”.  Heat is lost primarily through the ceiling of a home, then the walls and windows, and lastly the floors.  If your site faces a windy direction, and is located at the top of a hill, your floors will need to be insulated.

Sarking is a reflective fabric that reflects heat away from the roof and external walls and it should be laid with the reflective side facing outwards.  Roof sarking often forms part of an insulative blanket that is laid on top of the roof trusses and under the roof battens.

There are many new products on the market that are a “sandwich” format product (cladding on one side, a finished lining on the other, and insulation in the centre).

Thermal massing

There are various building claddings that have naturally occurring thermal benefits. Products such as core filled concrete block work, double brick, mud brick or hay bales offer internal spaces warmth in winter and coolness in summer due to the thickness of the product and the time it takes for heat of cold to penetrate these products.  Core filled block work, double brick, mud brick and sandstone, for example, have the ability to draw the relatively constant temperature of the ground through a building.

Windows and doors

If your sustainable house has been designed using the items suggested in this article, and your windows and doors are not too large, you will not require anything more than standard single glazing throughout your home.  Glazed windows and doors are both referred to as windows in the glazing industry. Below is a list of a few basic types that you need to be aware of:

  • Single glazed with a standard aluminium frame
  • Single glazed with an improved aluminium frame
  • Single glazed with a timber frame
  • Single glazed with an energy efficient film and a standard aluminium frame

The size and location of your windows are also very important.

Use the following general rules to reduce winter heat escape and summer sun penetration:

  • Place small windows on western facing walls to reduce summer sun penetration
  • Put large windows on the north side of the house
  • Put medium to large windows on the east of the house
  • Small windows should be on the south side of the house to reduce the amount of heat that escapes in winter
  • Only use skylights where absolutely necessary.  Skylights are usually required as the result of poor design.

Colours

House colours and temperatures work much like coloured clothing. A dark brown T-shirt attracts heat and is much hotter on a summer day than a white T-shirt, and your house is exactly the same, especially the roof. Within the online BASIX system if you choose a light coloured roof you will get a better energy score as a light coloured roof reflects the heat better.

Air locks

The dwelling design should include air locks so spaces can be thermally cut off from one another.  (But you can still have your open plan living space.)

Sub-floor construction

The space under your house is called a sub-floor and correct subfloor construction is very important inkeeping energy costs down in your house.

Don’t allow air to flow too freely under your house as this increases your energy requirements for heating and cool.  If the building is sitting on brick piers ensure that sub-floor perimeter is clad: the better clad this area is, the lower the energy requirements.

A concrete slab that is laid directly on ground is the most energy efficient subfloor because the slab draws on the relatively constant temperature of the ground and radiates that temperature into the house.

Roof shape & construction

The shape of your roof will greatly help you control the temperature of internal spaces within your eco friendly house and where possible have large roof cavities that a truss can provide.

Where a skillion or flat roof is unavoidable insulate with R5 insulation.

Many new homes don’t have roof ventilation.  Roof vents remove excess heat from the roof space preventing hot air in the roof radiating through the ceiling.  Roof venting will also reduce mechanical cooling and heating requirements.

Wastage

Whenever possible you should always think about wastage of building materials.  Many house designerswork to 600 and 900mm increments in room sizes etc as most building materials are manufactured in increments of these.

Any wastage during construction can be used on site especially concrete and bricks, these can be used for fill.

If you are demolishing a building the windows and doors can be sent to a recycle yard as can timber framing and flooring and various fittings.  Any concrete, tiles, masonry or brick can be recycling for future use as road base, there are companies that will take the materials for free and you save on expensive tip fees and reduced land fill.

Energy efficiency

When you are in the throws of construction and you are handing out money everywhere it is difficult to allow extra money for the long term energy efficient items.

Lighting

It always happens, the home is almost completed and the budget has been blown, the last things to be fitted are the electrical appliances and fittings… how unfortunate. So quite often the cheapest fittings are chosen, but unfortunately they are also the least energy efficient.  Spend the extra money at this time and invest in future energy savings.

Hot water systems

The energy required to heat a regular electric hot water system accounts for 60% of the total household energy requirements.  Hot water systems vary greatly in efficiency, price and capacity but generally a gas-boosted solar system is the most energy efficient hot water system.

Appliances

Energy efficient appliances also seem to be more expense when initially purchased.  But before you go down that path see www.energyrating.gov.au for a run down on how to choose your energy efficient appliance, and save money over the long term.

Curtains

Any kind of curtain that provides a good air pocket between internal spaces and your window will definitely save you energy.  Blinds may look better in certain situations and reduce power bills a little, but blinds do not offer the same ability to cover a window as curtains.

Embodied energy

Embodied energy is the energy used to produce a product from beginning to end. In this section of this article we examine the embodied energy of common building materials.

Take a look at the list below which outlines the embodied energy measured in kiloWatt-hours (kWh) per tonne that is required to manufacture common building products, from least efficient to most efficient.

So as a general rule remember that natural building products require less energy to produced than man made products, and use recycled products where possible.  Embodied energy is a huge subject but it is an aspect of the energy efficient building process that is missed by many designers. Keep in mind that one of the most energy intensive products to use in construction is concrete, and the most economical is timber, so use plantation timber every chance you get.

Water efficiency

Rainwater and storm water tanks

Most councils in Australia now require that all new residential single dwellings commit to installing a minimum 5,000 litre rainwater tank and many will also require an extra storm water tank to capture overflow from rainwater tanks and hard paved areas.  There are now non-obtrusive underground, sub-floor bladder and in-slab options.

Water efficient fittings

There are many fittings that comply with the minimum 3A compliance requirement for wet area fittings, there are even 5A rated products.

BASIX

Since July 2004 developers in NSW has been using the online BASIX system to calculate whether their new home or renovation complies with government standards for energy and water consumption.  The programme commits the owner to using less energy and storing more water for use not only in the garden but for toilets and laundries as well.

Getting your standard house to comply with BASIX minimum energy and water requirements.

  1. Commit to install 80% of your light fitting with dedicated LED or fluorescent fittings.
  2. Install a 5,000 litre rain water tank for an average size property.
  3. Have 900mm window and door overhangs.
  4. Commit to the maximum R-value insulation in all external walls and ceilings.
  5. Be realistic about window and door sizes.
  6. Don’t have a pool or central air conditioning.
  7. Truss roof and slab on ground.

Every property and situation is different so the only way to see if your building will comply is to put it through the BASIX system; it’s free and you can use it as many times as you like.

Note: Your BASIX commitments will be checked by the building-certifier authorised to perform the final inspection of your new home. If your commitments do not match what the certifier finds you will not be given your final occupation certificate.

You Need To Know Six Golden Rules of Home Design

Designing your own home can be a very exciting undertaking. The design process is a complex juggling act and there are 6 golden rules that you should follow designing your own home.

1. Think in 3D

Professional home designers like building designers and architects are always thinking in 3D when they’re working on a new home or renovation. They are constantly incorporating and taking away design ideas in plan and in a 3D form at the same time. For some people this skill is instinctual, but it can also be learnt over time.

Thinking in the 3D form can be difficult, especially when it comes to converting your own 2D house plans into a well form and aesthetically pleasing building. Weather you have this skill or not it is essential to always think about how your ideas will look as a resolved building form or you’ll run the risk of your building looking like a plan with extruded walls and a roof stuck on top.

2.    Limit amounts of different building materials

Be very careful when using more than two types ofexternal building cladding especially on the same plane (elevation). Research precedence’s for using the materials you want together, otherwise it could result in a messy façade & water leakage into the home. Ensure that material connections are well detailed and also ensure the builder understands how these materials will join while performing their essential waterproofing requirements. A neat trick is to step the building using a different material and avoid mixing materials at all on the same elevation.

3.    Use site conducive construction methods

Ensure the structure types you choose suite your site, building style and budget. During the design phase you’ll need to start thinking about construction types to ensure your building form will look appropriate to the style of building you are envisaging and will be affordable.

Using inappropriate construction types can;

  • Make a building look heavy when you had in mind a light weight home
  • Result in expensive building foundations

4.    Good design composition

A well designed building comes from seriously considering such things as proportion, symmetry and repetition.

  • Proportion – The building you design needs to match human scale and should not look visually out of proportion (to too big or too small). You need to understand this before you commit to the design.
  • Symmetry – Using symmetry is a simple and traditional method of ensuring a building looks visually comfortable.
  • Repetition – Using repetition in your design offers the building visual strength and comfort. Repetition in windows or doors can work really well in a design.

5.    Design renovations to complement the existing

When designing an addition to an existing home it is impossible to design a well resolved renovation if the existing form and style has not been taken into consideration.
You have one of two choices:

  1. Incorporate the existing style of your home into the addition (so it looks like its part of the original home).
  2. Treat the addition with a totally different style but complementary to the existing style.

Choosing to go half way between the two is a common failing and the final design will lack visual strength. Commit to one option and ensure every choice of finishes, construction type and detail reflected your style choice strongly.

6.    Beware of deck locations and sizes

Locating decks in inappropriate places can result in the decks not being used for their intended purposed. Keep these rules in mind:

  • Don’t design decks off bedrooms – Decks located off bedrooms are rarely used unless there is a kitchenette located close by.
  • Avoid large decks facing a view – Decks facing your views can ruin your views from inside as you will be looking through balustrading and flooring. Design your deck to one side of your main living space so you can enjoy uninterrupted views without looking through decking materials.
  • Deck size – Don’t design decks less than 2000mm deep – Decks 2000mm deep or less off a living space are unusable, especially if you need to allow for a 6 seater table and chairs.
  • Deck orientation – If you can avoid it do not have a deck located on the south side of your home (these decks are shaded and cold in winter and cause lower level rooms to become colder and darker than before the deck addition. Always locate decks on the north and a second option would be north/east followed by north/west.
  • Minimum deck size – Your deck should be 4200x4200mm in size to accommodate a 6 seater table with chairs (this will allow for ample circulation space when people are seated). If you don’t want your table and chairs dominating the space the deck needs to be double the size recommended above.

Great Top 8 Design Tips to Consider When Building For Your New Home

Are you planning to build a new home? Then be sure to read the tips from home building expert Metricon, one of Australia’s leading home builders specialising in contemporary and modern homes. If you want your home to be as functional as possible, the following top 8 designs tips will put you on the right path.

1. The Open Floor Plan

Anyone building a new home should consider an open floor plan, as it creates a larger living area to entertain in and a versatile space. An open floor plan is both functional and inviting to families, as it brings all the living areas in the house into one large space. Metricon’s Chicago display home is one of the many designs which offer open plan modern living which gives the main living areas connectivity, giving a sense of space to your home design.

2. Less Is More

According to Metricon, the time of cluttered homes is long over, which is why it is important to incorporate a lot of built in storage space in your new home design. To avoid making your room feel cluttered look at adding functional wardrobes, cupboards and shelving into your new home. At Metricon, we incorporate many storage options in our designs for all areas of the house. So whether you are building a house just for yourself or a large family, we can provide you with all the storage options you need, from walk in robes to butler’s pantries.

3. Mix Contemporary with Traditional

Contemporary is a popular design choice for many, however to make sure your new home design stays timeless; add some traditional touches to your design. By mixing these two styles together, home owners can enjoy a modern but classic home which will not date in years to come. Metricon’s Bordeaux design is the perfect example of linking these two design elements together. Keep in mind, its fundamental to make your new house design feel like a home by adding your own personal touches and finishes.

4. Let There Be Light

Houses used to be designed with small windows and narrow doors. These trends have altered and Metricon focuses on maximising natural light in our house designs. A tip to help you incorporate this design element is to select large windows, glass sliding doors, light-wells and glass panels into your front door.

5. Do Not Be Afraid of Luxury

Creating a house that looks and feels luxurious does not always have to come with an expensive price tag. Metricon has a range of Designer home designs available which encompass contemporary luxury living with an affordable price tag. A tip we give our customers to help them make their home feel luxurious is to add quality fixtures and finishes including high ceilings, quality flooring and timeless fixtures throughout.

6. Street Appeal

First impressions last and the exterior design of your new home is one you want to select carefully. It is important to consider when choosing your facade, how your new house will look from the curb as well as fit into the street you are building in. It is also important to choose colours, materials and surfaces which will complement each other so there is a sense of cohesion in the visual appearance of your home.

7. Functional Bathrooms

Building a spacious bathroom is on most people’s wish list. At Metricon, we have made sure all our bathroom designs both feel spacious and functional as well as incorporate space saving storage ideas. It is important to choose fixtures and colourings to make you room feel more spacious which may include light coloured wall tiles and paint colours. Clever storage solutions are the key to any bathroom. Let’s face it, no home has enough storage in linen cupboards, so introduce more storage in the bathrooms as the less clutter you have, the better. It will also create an illusion of a larger space.

8. Modern Fixtures and Fittings

One of the benefits of a new home is the opportunity to select features and fittings that reflect your own personal taste and lifestyle. Special attention needs to go into selecting the finishing touches. Each of our Metricon homes has a contemporary appeal, created with a suitable balance of quality fittings and fixtures. When building a new home, you have the option to select many items such as tapware, tiles, sinks, basins, flooring, lighting, cabinetry, benchtops, appliances and door handles, which helps you to personalise your new home and cater perfectly to your lifestyle.