The idea of building a tree house is a sweet little dream for many Australian’s, and with the advent of shows like “Tree House Masters” it leaves Aussies asking “Why don’t we see or hear more about tree houses in Australia”? Well, it all comes down to building regulations.
“Tree House Masters” is set in America and America has very different development and compliance rules to Australia.
If you choose to build a tree house in Australia you’ll need the following before you can start construction:
1. Development consent
Development consent & a construction certificate will be required if your tree house is more than 20m² in area.
2. Arborist report
An arborist report will be required stating the maximum loads the trees can take and the longevity of the trees to be used.
3. Geotechnical report
A geotechnical report will most likely be required stating that the ground around the trees is stable enough to take the load of the proposed tree house.
Council will then assess your application like any other proposed residential development.
Things you need to consider:
- Height – There will be a height restriction for your tree house (around 8.5m
Few other building systems provide the range of benefits that green roofs can. They insulate buildings against noise and temperature fluctuations, reducing the building’s reliance on active heating and cooling. Green roofs also protect the roof membrane from exposure to the elements and can dramatically extend the life of a roof.
Growing plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen and moisture as they grow. This both purifies the air and cools temperatures around the building. This is particularly important in urban areas, where hard surfaces absorb heat from the sun and radiate it back out into the environment, contributing to higher city temperatures.
Green roofs slow down and clean stormwater. By incorporating soil and plants onto the roof tops, the green roof absorbs stormwater and slowly releases it back into the environment, helping to prevent flooding.
Removing vegetation for buildings also affects biodiversity. By replacing traditional roofing materials (tiles, bitumen, concrete) with a green roof it provides habitat, shelter and food that supports biodiversity. Green roofs have one other important contribution to make – they make us feel good. There is an increasing
Window bars/grills are an external window furnishing usually made of steel with a baked on powder-coated finish. Bolted to the outside of the window, they have been a very popular alternative in past years for elderly people, or those who live in neighbourhoods with higher crime rates, due to the strength and protection they provide.
- Very hard for intruders to break in
- Hard wearing and long lasting
- Not a large benefit in terms of privacy unless coupled
with an internal furnishing
- Not generally considered a modern or attractive alternative
- No other benefits e.g. noise reduction, light reduction or insulation
Blinds are an internal window furnishing which are available in a huge range of different styles and operation types. Different blind alternatives include vertical blinds, Venetian blinds, roller blinds, Roman blinds, panel glide blinds, cellular blinds and drapes. These alternatives are generally made from polyester, aluminium or timber laminate and although they look different general serve a similar purpose.
- Increased privacy
- Provide excellent light control
- Provide some sort of insulation
against heat and cold
- Available in an enormous range
of colours and styles guaranteed
to suit any
Dematerialisation is a critical aspect in sustainable development – some would say the most critical. This is not only because of the resource savings provided by reduction of any individual element in a project, but because of the multiplying factor – the ripple effect – created by these reductions. Here Neville Cowland of NOWarchitecture explores the potential before steps are taken to build anything.
What dematerialisation means
At the basic level dematerialisation refers to the reduction in the quantity of materials required to serve economic functions in society. In building terms, dematerialisation means doing more with less, or better yet, no material consumption to deliver the same level of functionality to the user. Choices are available in the way buildings are constructed to significantly reduce materialisation to a point where carbon neutral development is achievable
Dematerialisation strategies for environmentally sustainable design that guide architecture include:
- Efficient logical structures & rational building forms
- Reduction of secondary finishes
- Economic use of materials
- Consideration of life cycle costs & embodied energy
In any approach to dematerialisation, planning decisions and material selections are augmented by consideration of passive energy systems which respond to climatic conditions:
- Solar orientation for warmth in winter and natural daylighting
- Even cross ventilation and induced passive ventilation
Recent studies have shown that living in a noisy home that endures constant erratic noises can reduce your life span. Not only does it affect longevity but living in a noisy home generally provides an unrelaxing atmosphere.
Reducing noise or poor acoustics in and around your home isn’t difficult, especially if you‘re building a new home. All that is required is a little planning during the design phase to ensure the acoustics inside and outside the home have been considered and addressed.
So what is noise?
Noise is defined as a loud or unpleasant sound that causes disturbance. Noise around the home is often caused by sound bouncing off one surface to another (reverberation). There are three essential rules to reduce reverberation:
- Minimise opportunities for reverberation
- Introduce sound soakers
- Incorporate noise distractors
Generally, the more a surface of a space is flat, continuous and unperforated the more sounds will be bounced around within that space. These types of surfaces will increase noise.
Below we describe how you can incorporate the rules mentioned above to minimise noise in your home.
Reduce the size of open spaces
Open plan areas that contain smooth and continuous surfaces are excellent at reflecting internal noise around the home as well as amplifying external noises into
Whether you want to watch sport on TV away from the glare of the afternoon sun, or have a sunny kitchen window to grow basil and parsley, the way that your home is oriented can make a big difference to how you use your home.
When you choose a floor plan that faces the right way on your block, you’ll make your home more comfortable, and you can save money on heating, cooling and lighting. Your home builder can flip or rotate your floor plan to make the most of your block’s orientation.
Here is a quick guide to help you work out which rooms to position where in your home:
North- This is side of your home that will be warmer in winter. The north side is generally the best place to have living areas and rooms that you use the most.
South- This is the coolest side, so it is generally the best place for bedrooms in warmer climates, or rooms that you don’t use during the day.
East- This side is where you will receive morning sun, so it is a great idea to have your kitchen or bedrooms on this side so you can enjoy a relaxing breakfast in the sunlight.
According to the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) hot water systems consume more energy than any other device within the average household. In their 2009 report IPART also predicted a 60% increase in the price of electricity from 1 July 2010 – 30 June 2013. You will have experienced some of these increases already, but further increases are coming soon.
This article compares the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the three major hot water alternatives commonly available to Australians: electric, gas and solar.
Electric Hot Water Systems
Electric hot water has been continuously developed and used over the last century and has been the main source of hot water in homes for several decades. In 2008 the ABS recorded that around 58% of homes in NSW use electric hot water systems.
With the continuously rising cost of electricity and the introduction of the Carbon Tax, it is becoming increasingly expensive to run an electric hot water system.
The government has stated that it will try and phase out electric hot water systems by 2013. This will make it harder to purchase replacement tanks and parts.
From an ‘initial investment’ point-of-view, electric tanks are currently your most affordable option. They range in price from $500 to
The dry winds in NSW 2013, and the subsequent Blue Mountains disasters have boasted the discussion of poor bush fire compliant homes once more.
For new homes current legislation does a pretty good job of forcing Australians to better withstand a bush fire attack. But what about renovations?
Currently there is no legislation enforcing property owners to upgrade their existing homes to comply with current Bushfire Attack Level’s (BAL). There is only one minor measure in place that only quietly mentions that a homeowner has a property located in a bush fire prone area.
When a property is sold the vendor is required by law to organise a Sales Contract. Within this Sales Contract is a Section 149 Planning Certificate. Within this document it mentions if your property is in a bush fire prone area or not. It does not state the Bushfire Attack Level or if the current dwelling comply’s with current bush fire legislation.
The seller of any property is not legally required to ensure their property meets current bush fire construction standards.
Ensuring your home is bush fire compliant
When selling or buying a property you can find out if your property is bush fire compliant or not by doing a little
Starting the process of building a new home? Read this article to get an overview of the processes involved. Note that although the processes are constantly changing, the drawing production process and council preparation process remains relatively unchanged over time.
Step 1. The initial consultation
At this first meeting the architect/building designer (designer) and you the client will discuss all your thoughts in relation to the design of your house or development beg. size, types of spaces how you anticipate these spaces will feel, etc.
Service fees and what they include will also be discussed at this time and a fee proposal as well as a Client Brief and a contract will be sent to your after the meeting. There are services available which can assist you in design and construction costing if you find you need support in this area.
Step 2. Site Analysis
The building designer/architect will analyse your site verbally and/or provide a written report (if you can not be present) and discuss with you the restrictions and assets of your property. This portion of the service is not only valuable to people that have already purchased a property but also to people that are in the process of buying and that
Renovating or building a new home in a bush fire prone area can be a nightmare when choosing building materials and products. Not only should the roofing, windows, doors, guttering and cladding meet your families requirements, but they must also comply with construction requirements for bush fire prone areas.
To ensure you choose building products that will comply with Bush Fire Attack levels (BAL) it’s important to understand what Bush Fire Attack levels mean.
Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL) are given to properties that are:
located in bush fire risk areas, the higher the number, the higher the bush fire risk (example BAL – 40 means you’re in a really high risk area and BAL – 12.5 means you’re at the lower end of bush fire risk). BAL – FZ however means that you are in total Flame Zone and are at extreme bush fire risk. The number behind the BAL acronym relates to the heat flux in kW/m².
Outlined below are the 5 main Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL) – you will need to assess which one applies to your property.
- BAL – 12.5 – lowest level of bush fire attack.
- BAL – 19 – possible requirements – use of fire retardant timbers.
- BAL – 29 – possible
Awnings are a low-cost, low-tech way to summer cooling. They can serve two functions, to supply shade for the summer sun to control heat entry to the home, and also to offer more protection from rain and hail, to extend the life of the building structure and to offer shelter. About 40% of unwanted heat that enters the house is through the windows.
An awning is a fixed structure attached to the outside of a building, over doors, windows or walkways. Awnings were first used by the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians. The Coloseum in Rome was shaded and protected by large retractable canvas awnings.
Awnings can be made from a number of different materials, can be permanently fixed or retractable, decorative or purely functional. The angle and size of the awning is important to get the best result from an awning. The right placement ensures that summer sun can be excluded from the windows, yet allows the winter sun to penetrate to warm the house.
A light coloured awning will also reflect sunlight and heat. A slight gap left between the awning and the house will help to vent the heat that builds up under the awning. Installing the awning at an
As the colder weather creeps in, home heating starts becoming a real issue for many reasons. Not only do you need to keep warm but heating can be expensive if you don’t choose the right type.
A fireplace not only warms but can become a focal point in your home just like a camp fire does outside.
Fireplaces are now increasingly being designed into outdoor living areas. They’re a stylish way to make outdoor entertaining cosy and inviting, allow outdoor spaces to be enjoyed all year.
Fireplaces have a reputation of being environmentally unfriendly because of their inefficiencies and emissions, which can also have adverse health effects. However, good design, as well as choice and handling of fuel, can improve both the efficiency of the fire and the release of emissions.
Issues to consider when adding a fireplace in your home
Emissions – Burning wood compared to burning ethanol or gas requires different appliances due to the emissions they produce. These emissions can cause health and other problems, not only for you, but also your neighbours. Emissions need to be considered and planned for. Wood causes the most potent emissions, gas less than wood, and ethanol the least.
Ventilation – When you’re using wood, gas
This article gives a brief explanation of some of the architecture styles found in Australian houses. Just as these styles have developed from previous ones, the current styles are also being combined to create new hybrid designs, some of which work better than others.
The Tiple Fronted Brick veneer
This style of house has a brick facade (exterior) with timber frames supporting interior walls, usually of gyprock. Roofs are always hipped or gabled and tiled. This style dominated suburban architecture in the 50’s – 60’s. In its basic form it is a bland and unimaginative style which has been propagated by developers. Due to its familiar and cheap construction, it still is the dominant style in housing estates and many consider the style the scourge of Australian domestic architecture. The basic style can be made much more interesting by rendering and painting, adding more angles, porticos, verandahs, and bay windows. Larger homes (2 stories) of this style have been described as “McMansions”.
The original fisherman’s cottage was built in many coastal towns between the 30’s and 50’s. It was originally a simple timber framed structure of one or two rooms and a verandah which was clad with asbestos sheeting. The floors were generally
The home design process can be a tricky juggling act. The nine steps below will teach you the basics of the process that is followed by architects and building designers in the building industry. Follow this process and you will have a better chance of designing a home that functions well and looks appealing.
Tools you will need
- Sketch paper: you can buy purpose-made ‘Butter Paper’ from an art supply shop, but baking paper works just as well and can be purchased from your local supermarket for around $1.50 a roll.
- A3 Drafting board: these boards are portable and come with a rule that attaches horizontally to the board. It can be purchased from an art or drafting supply shop for about $150.00.
- Adjustable set square: this item is an adjustable clear plastic triangle that is essential in producing straight, angled, and vertical lines. This can also be purchased at an art supply outlet or drafting supply shop for around $30.00.
- Pencil: you can purchase a specialised drafting pencil (clutch pencil) but a standard lead (graphite) pencil will do fine. If you do purchase a clutch pencil buy one with a very thin lead otherwise. you will then need to buy a clutch pencil sharpener
There are seven common mistakes that people frequently make when designing their home. These mistakes are often reinforced in home design magazines and television shows. Explained below are the seven most common mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
This article has been written from an Australian perspective. If you live in North America, Europe, or elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, reverse the north/south orientations mentioned below.
This is the biggest mistake most people make when designing their home. There is nothing worst than living in a home that is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But you can have both.
Ideally, orientate all bedroom & living areas to face north. This will provide perfect sun penetration to every room in the house. But realistically this is impossible for most homes that are restricted by the average suburban block. The following rules generally apply for typical suburban blocks.
- Locate all living areas on the north side of your floor plan. The floor plan shown here has good northern sun penetration through northern facing windows and was created using the Planit2d 2D Floorplan creator.
- It is preferable to locate the kitchen to the north/east so you can enjoy the beautiful morning sun while sipping your cup of tea.
Home builders have experimented with building materials since history began. Strawbale houses built with small square bales originated in Nebraska, soon after the mechanical baler was invented. Nebraska was plains country with very little trees for building so someone with imagination saw a way to use these big bricks for construction. Nebraska style and load-bearing style are interchangeable terms meaning the same thing. Most houses being built are non-load bearing, in fact we have helped people build over seventy houses and not one has been load-bearing.
In Nebraska, in the United States, many strawbale houses over hundred years old are still being used as homes. An American magazine called The last straw had an article about how some of these houses were tracked down and checked for straw quality within the walls – the straw was as good as the day it was put in. Strawbale buildings stand the test of time.
Facts about strawbale
- The walls have an insulation factor of between R8.0 and R10.0, reducing the need for air conditioners or heaters, therefore saving money. Read on how the render acts as thermal mass and helps to mediate temperature, a case study on a strawbale house in the Bega valley has
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 of external building cladding especially on the same plane (elevation). Research precedence’s for using the materials you want together, otherwise it
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
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.
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
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:
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