29 May The key to building an affordable & sustainable home
One of the great changes in the construction industry over the past two decades has been the idea of going ‘green’.
Everyone – from builders, to owner, to tenants – seems keen on creating the type of structures that are not only beautiful and functional, but also kind to the planet while creating cost savings for their occupants.
It seems simple and noble – a great win-win result for all. Who doesn’t want cheaper power bills plus the sleep-well, feel-good factor of knowing you’re doing the right thing for future generations?
Unfortunately, when it comes to going green, there’s been one big impost – the expense.
The cost of creating sustainable structures comes at a premium. Additional works that require extra labour and specialist products means while you’re helping everyone on the planet, you’re also hurting your hip pocket.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are our tips for achieving the green dream home for less outlay.
When it comes to creating an ideal home that ticks all the boxes, you must get the basics correct, right from the get go. It all begins with the blank page and big ideas.
The design stage is when you start incorporating your features for a home that both achieve your goals and reduces consumption.
For a start, think about the process of heating and cooling different spaces. Open plan is great but if the orientation and exposure to sunlight is wrong, then you can end up paying a lot extra in running costs.
Even seemingly micro-considerations like eave overhangs and patio roof lengths can have an impact. Do these structures let rooms heat up when the sun is low in winter? Conversely, do they do they shield your spaces from harsh, high-position sunlight in summer.
Flow through of air is also critical. Shutting off cooling breezes through bad window placement can have you fighting a losing battle with temperature,
Also, what’s the utility of the layout? Are rooms adaptable and efficient? Creating ‘dead space’ through having an underutilised room, such as too small a study or an awkwardly shaped and uninviting lounge, means you could be controlling air temperature in unused rooms.
One of the best building strategies for achieving green dream homes is construction materials.
Of course, you want something that looks great, compliments the colour scheme and is easy maintenance – but materials can also have a direct impact on your home’s sustainability factor.
The problem in the past has been selecting products that don’t send you broke while trying to save the environment. Fortunately, smart innovation is starting to overcome this hurdle.
For example, our business has been utilising a product called Cross Laminate Timber, or CLT for framing.
CLT sees layers of parallel timber beams laid atop one another in a perpendicular fashion and then glued together, resulting in a product that is inherently stronger than standard frames.
While it’s been used for years overseas, CLT is yet to make its mark in Australia. Because it’s cheaper to produce and easier work with than steel or concrete, it’s a saving in your construction budget. We’ve also found CLT frames are faster to erect than traditional frames, because it comes in panels.
Best of all, because its base material is timber, the wood crop source is a carbon-sink.
We have not found a better product on the market for meeting all the requirements of a successful build.
When deciding on the layout of your home, don’t ignore the benefits of blurring the line between the indoors and the outdoors.
There are a number of upsides to keeping these spaces seamlessly connected. For one, opening up to an expansive patio or deck adds square metres to your home. It’s a flexible way to create extra space – particularly if you’re having an entertaining crowd over at your place.
That flexibility extends to house running costs too. By using the right materials for your opening – solar tinted glass stacker doors or more solid bi-folds – you can simply reduce the space when not needed and insulate the area your heating and cooling.
When things get warmer, openings to outdoor areas allow breezes to come through. Combined with smart design and materials, they’re an excellent way to keep costs down.
This is also a chance to create shade and boost you CO2 reduction through appropriate use of outdoor greenery. The right selection of vegetation means you won’t be turning up the cooling dial on your AC anytime soon.
Saying you should consider paying a little more for quality fitting and fixtures may sound counter to the idea of affordable sustainability, but hear me out.
It’s often worth the extra cost to choose recognised brand-name appliances with an excellent track record for durability and after-sales service. This is a consideration where you get what you pay for.
While the low-price sticker on a cheap, knock-off import may look enticing, if it needs constant repair or replacement – that’s money down the drain and wasted resources used.
The same goes for finishes – good quality, durable carpet, tile, timber and paint all pay for themselves pretty quickly.
When it comes making functional, beautiful and sustainable homes, advice from an experienced builder means you won’t have to dig deep into your wallet.
Affordable sustainability is reality with modern innovation and experienced contractors are helping show the way.