This is a great and unique opportunity every year to explore brilliantly designed and built houses around the country by those who are planning to build, buy, or are simply interested in environmental sustainability of housing. This time I visited 7 houses – just as many as I could have in the timeframe of a day, but certainly a lot in terms of ideas that will keep giving me inspiration for quite some time! One at Angler’s Rest in the Snowy Mountains was also open but too far to reach within the day’s schedule. One of the houses was on the NSW side of the border in Albury and other 5 in North East Victoria. Here is a brief overview of those with some photos, courtesy of Sustainable House Day (links also included for more details).
Enviro 9 – Thurgoona, NSW
This is an innovative design by Alatalo Bros, a residential builder in Albury-Wodonga, currently used as a display home. It has a high energy rating of 8.8, and the most impressive feature for me were the well designed and manufactured double-glazed windows. This is a great example of what can be done by a builder who primarily focuses on the residential market and how this type of display homes can influence and educated home buyers.
Minty’s Binderee Grove – Huon, VIC
A bed and breakfast nestled under a hill with views of Lake Hume was built with all the principles of solar passive design in mind, and also with the use of best techniques available at the time. What was amazing in this house is the effort they made to position the house just right to take advantage of the Northerly sun aspect in winter while keeping in mind ways to cool it down utilising the breeze coming down from the bushland on the hill in hot summers. I also liked stainless steel work on benches and bathroom fixtures done by Trevor Newton Engineering based in Wodonga.
The Snail House – Yackandandah, VIC
Amazing effort by an owner builder who has a background in engineering and could design and construct this house with many beautiful features that were also functional and efficient. The loft office was constructed on the ground before being lifted up by cranes onto the frame of the rest of the house!
Fat Goose Farm – Beechworth, VIC
If you are interested in environmental sustainability and food safety then this place is a “must see”, setup as a small hobby farm but expanding with more grazing land and providing educational courses. I liked the conversion of an old concrete water tank into a food cellar for storing their produce.
Cortes Kiln – Gapsted, VIC
What started as an experimental restoration ended up to be a luxury accommodation in the high country, offering an escape into the fresh air of a lush green countryside. The building itself is very unique to look at, and old brick kiln has a lot of character inside and out, while the barn is nicely restored with an added greenhouse room joining the two. Great credit to both the designer and builder! My favourite feature was the way the covered conservatory seamlessly joins the two buildings, providing the desired cooling effect and added living space in the summer.
Solar Skillion Sleepout – Benalla, VIC
This is an example of a well-designed home with complementing indoor and outdoor spaces. Two Tiny Houses are positioned in a backyard of a renovated duplex, with North orientation and skillion roofs ensuring adequate shading in the summer. One house is setup as a sleepout with ensuite, while the other serves as an artist studio, and there is plenty of decking to enjoy outdoor living.
Sandy’s Tiny – Violet Town, VIC
This is the most exciting part of the SHD 2018 – the first time I have seen a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) being exhibited. The Tiny House concept is relatively new to Australians, and this example gives a lot of justification to why and how it can be done. While rules and regulations need to catchup with the popular trend, the builder here showed that building can be done efficiently and to high standards. What I liked most was the display of the building in progress, so visitors could see how things were done, and learn from the process not just about this particular building but about efficient and sustainable construction of dwellings in general. Thank you to all who shared their homes, as well as their knowledge and experience with us!