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Case studies

The good house redefined
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A cottage between demolition and renovation


BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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The diminutive cottage being too small for a family of four, the owners bought it with the intention of either pulling it down or extending. The latter option, being more cost-effective, was selected after the owners were shown how the home could be transformed.

KEY FACTS
point Service provided   Concept plans, permits, interior design,
contract administration
point Project type   Renovation
point Home location   City of Manningham
point Date original home was built   1951
point Land size   2048sqm (half an acre)
point Existing home floor area   123sqm (14 squares)
point Proposed home floor area   186sqm (21 squares)
point Budget   $160,000

SITE NOTES
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The house is unfavourably sited towards the Northern end of the block. This limits views on the solar side and creates overshadowing from the tall trees located on the North fence in winter, when the sun is lower on the horizon.
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The entry is directly into the living areas.
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The kitchen has a good level of natural light, having a large North facing window, while the dining room is dark, receiving only indirect light from other rooms. The living area is dark as well, its only window being overshadowed by a two metre deep verandah.
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The dining room is difficult to furnish as it is a thoroughfare.
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The owners wish to add a study, a fourth bedroom, a second bathroom, a playroom, and an open plan living area at the back. They are happy with the kitchen layout as long as it can be opened to the dining and living room.
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The only thermal insulation in the house is a thin layer of bulk insulation in the roof space.
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The Baltic floor is noisy and cold; it is covered in some areas by worn and mouldy carpet.
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The owners are keen to retain the cozy cottage feel of the home in spite of plans for a significant extension.

THE PROPOSED DESIGN
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Light and view: While the old home was turned towards the street, the new home’s heart is located at the back, allowing for good views of the large garden. The new living room was set back from the north boundary so that the winter sun could penetrate deeply through the wide north-facing windows.
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Conservation: The required number of rooms was created while keeping the floor area to a reasonable size, a great asset for a sustainable project. Skirting boards, architraves and the new floor are made of recycled Oregon pine; ceilings are lined with plantation pine. The large study desk, the kitchen island benchtop, the laundry benchtop as well as two natural round logs used as posts, are made of slabs or trunk sections of Cypress Macrocarpa, a massive tree species used as windbreaks by Victorian farmers and salvaged at the end of its life. The existing kitchen cabinetry was minimally reconfigured, the doors were painted and the laminated benchtops tiled for an earthier feel.

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Insulation: All new windows are double-glazed, the ceiling and all new walls are insulated with natural sheep wool batts, which are non-toxic, deal with moisture well and provide good insulation relative to thickness. The Baltic floor had many gaps and would have had to be re-laid, loosing half the boards in the process. It was decided instead that a layer of sheep wool felt would be installed over the existing floor for insulation, and a new floor of recycled Oregon installed on top. The end result is a much quieter and warmer floor. The floor is further insulated by reflective foil sheets fixed under floor joists.

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Heating: The owners decided to extend the existing ducted gas heating system and found that although no thermal mass was added, the home is more comfortable thermally than before, thanks to significant solar gains in winter and good insulation. Heating bills have only suffered a 10% increase in spite of an extension out, addition of an upper floor and cathedral ceilings.

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Ventilation: A section of roof with windows – a lantern – was installed in the cathedral ceiling above the kitchen / dining room area. This has the double benefit of bringing light to the ceiling space which could be dark otherwise, and letting hot air escape in summer via the electrically-operated windows.

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Indoor air quality: The recycled floor, window frames, slabs and woodwork are finished using refined linseed oil, a non-toxic product that nourishes the wood and gives it a soft sheen.

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Water: Taps and shower heads have a minimum WELS rating of 4*.

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