A simple list of sites and articles useful when designing, planning and building an eco-friendly green house in Australia. Please read the whole article as there are some useful tips at the end.
We also have a wide range of sustainable home building articles on this site, to educate you and help you in building a more green home, please have a look around. We also have a green directory that you can explore.
Green Building and Green Architecture in Australia
Please visit all the sites listed below as they look at the subject matter from several different perspectives.
What to do if things go wrong..
Green house design and building usually goes well, but in case you are having some problems..
Some simple tips for a cost efficient Eco House
- First off the more you understand and appreciate how to design a house that is green and eco friendly - the easier it will be to achieve it. It is actually not that hard once you get a hang of the basics. There are plenty of articles on this site and links to other sites to help you increase your eco knowledge. Also please be aware, that like other business sectors, in the building industry there are lots of attempts to 'ride the green bandwagon' (i.e. green washing ) - so it pays to do your research yourself and get educated.
- Secondly, make use of modern technology in working out how you want your house to look. There are plenty of software packages targeted at those wishing to design their own eco home - make use of them. One we would recommend is one called 'Chief Architect' - some what more expensive than the others on the market, but it will give you the degree of modeling to actually get a sense on your own of what it will be like to live in the house. This alone will pay for itself in avoiding expensive changes of mind on site. Also it includes a lot of advice on how to design a house that 'works' as a place to live.
- Thirdly, all developments now are required to be eco-friendly by planning regulations. As a result all the design, planning and development services have a working knowledge of what it takes to achieve this (i.e. orientation, thermal characteristics, cross ventilation, internal zoning, water storage, water conservation & waste management, etc; there are a range of articles on this site covering these subjects). So instead of hiring a potentially expensive architect (or specialist eco architect), hire a draftsman/women instead. The other advantage with this is usually they will provide all in one service at a fraction (10-20% of) of the cost of a full architect service (usually either an hourly rate or some percentage, 10-15% of the full build cost!). Also they are somewhat easier to 'sway' to your point of view; i.e. they don't have a design agenda. You will also have the freedom to include your own research and findings a lot more easily, plus you won't have that financial 'dis-incentive' to ignore what the eco-architect you are paying is telling you for instance.
- Fourthly, do the minimum additional work required to get through planning - i.e. do not go mad on complex landscape gardening plans etc. Your ideas of what you want will change over time, so keep things flexible and cheap!
- Fifth, be very wary of 'closed tender' situations; i.e. project managers or architects completely controlling the tendering process. You should expect to have access to all the finished tender packs before they go out to ensure completeness and fairness. Also be extremely wary of tenders between builders completely unknown to you.. (see the next point).
- Sixth, do shop around for a builder. Ask neighbors or friends and form a picture of who provides the type of building you want. Get valid recommendations from many people and sort out out the rubbish and overly expensive; never take any supplied recommendations at face value, do your own research. Remember, better to spend a little more in confidence you are getting quality, then spending less and buying blind. Also try and use a local builder, as apart from the reduced environmental impact from going local, they will be much more focused on wanting to retain their local reputation.
- Seventh, you don't have to go 'eco mad' in your building design to be Eco and energy efficient. Rather focus on getting the basics right and the core 'character' on the house in terms of its energy usage and cost. There are many things you can do post build to 'tweak' the behavior to make it even more Eco.
- and number Eight, you do not take everything at 'face value'. A lot of so called Eco products are not really that eco anyways; i.e. the brand is more eco than the product. Try to look at a solution in terms of total cost (i.e. the cost of doing it and the cost of doing something else instead) and do not be afraid to shop around and make use the internet to find the true price of things (searches like 'PRODUCT NAME prices' will often find you a lot of useful information and who else supplies equivalent services and products). Sometimes not actually doing something is the best thing for the environment.
Also, be very weary of 'prepackaged' eco design solutions - such as complete eco house plans, material supply packages, etc - these are usually cheap if you implement them exactly
as planned, but if your block has any 'unique features' (i.e. slope, contours, rivers, old trees, etc) or you ask for any changes to the base plans - the cost saving is soon removed and you would have found yourself cheaper to just get a draftsman/women instead from the start. Remember for the designer or architect as soon as they sell more than one of these designs they are 'quids in' in terms of time spent doing the design. We suggest you ask for references of who else has implemented the design you like and talk to them directly (if they have no-one walk away) - otherwise you run the risk of being the one to 'iron out' the design bugs at your expense. Also ensure you have up front legal advice on the contract and terms.