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Case studies

The good house redefined
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Sunny extension in a tight urban fabric


BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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The century-old solid brick house had bluestone footings which were failing in this highly reactive soil, causing cracks in the building fabric. The house was pleasantly cool in the summer but hard to heat the other nine months of the year. The owners have three young children and the two bedroom home was splitting at the seams. The main connection to the garden was from the old scullery, the small bathroom was added in the fifties and in a state of disrepair. The front door had to be constantly readjusted to follow the movement of the old structure. The budget was too small to start from scratch but had to allow for repairs to the existing, a new bathroom, a new entry and some pleasant new living areas facing the sun.

KEY FACTS
point Service provided   Concept plans, permits, interior design,
contract administration
point Project type   Alterations and additions
point Home location   Darebin City Council
point Land size   530sqm
point Proposed floor area   152sqm (16.3 squares))
point Budget   $290,000

THE NEW DESIGN
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Orientation: The existing house was located very close to the side fence facing North, thereby depriving the old structure from much sunlight and winter warmth. It was decided to site the new extension close to the South fence so that the new living areas could be bathed in sunlight. The new walls and roof are lightweight while the tiled concrete slab provides desirable thermal mass.

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Functionality and aesthetics: A new door facing East at the end of the existing corridor provides light and garden view to a previously dark space. The lean-to scullery and bathroom were demolished to maximize passive solar access and create a logical and flowing layout.

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Heating: A highly-efficient gas log heater with double-flue warms up the living areas while ducted heating remains at the front part of the house.

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Insulation: The concrete slab edge is insulated to minimize heat loss. An R.6.0 combination of fibre-free insulation and reflective sarking is retrofitted to the existing roof and installed in the new works. Double-glazing units, Argon gas filling and thorough drafts proofing to all windows. Walls are insulated to R2.5.

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Ventilation and shading: Smaller openings to the South side provide effective cross-ventilation while all North facing windows are fitted with a horizontal canvas blind with retractable arm which provides shading only where and when it is desired.

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Conservation: The concrete slab uses recycled aggregates while part of the highly polluting cement is replaced with inert fly-ash. New walls and roofs use either solid or laminated sections of plantation pine. Existing architraves, floorboards and skirting boards are reused to their full possible extent in the new works.

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Indoor air quality: Low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) water-based glues and finishes for walls, floors and timber were used throughout.

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Water: Taps and shower heads were selected for minimal water consumption (WELS 5 star rating). The existing rainwater tank now supplies the garden as well as the toilet and washing machine.

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Wiring: The house was entirely rewired and measures taken to minimize electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) inside.

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