iSSue 7 / 2009



             WeLcome	To	The	
             smarTer	smaLL	home™
WeLcome	home
CreATIng	dreAm	HomeS	And	               we	received	from	many	readers	             We’ll	compare	it	to	tradit...
    An increasing number of Australians are finding it hard
    to afford their own home. Will home owne...
housing	affordability

           looKhoMe     3
IT	ALL	ComeS	doWn	To	SImpLe	                    prices	have	increased	markedly	in	recent	
housing	affordability
                                           on	housing.	According	to	the	Senate	            • Changin...
This	trend	is	evidenced	in	the	rise	of	       investment:	more	of	it	must	be	better.”
housing	affordability

The	Australian	(August	7,	2008):	“To	          installed	after	residents	had	moved	in.	
striking	results	from	this	report	is	the	         those	for	and	against	this	solution.	Urban	
housing	affordability
to	the	cost	—	in	dollars	and	time	—	of	     we	need	to	take	the	meaning	of	home	
transport.	rather,	...

          an	innovaTive
          The Smarter Small Home™ is the result of years of
creative	thinking
WHen	KeVIn	doodneY	LooKed	AT	                   home,	which	they	defined	as	one	costing	
housing	afforda...
planners,	developers	and	builders	to	
            The smarter small     see	the	result,”	he	says.	“Keep	an	open	
creative	thinking
                                             such	as	cross	ventilation	and	sliding	doors	

     The	Solution   InTrodUCIng	…
                    	 he	smarTer
the	smarter	small	home

WHen	deSIgner	BreTT	BLACKLoW	                   they	needed	to	make	the	land	size	small.	
sat	dow...
Blacklow	says.	“There’s	more	surface	area	      joists	or	the	traditional	slab	on	ground.	
     Show me                   ...
the	smarter	small	home

                                     incurring any...
smarTer	producT		                              that’s	made	from	the	Scyon™	material,		
the	smarter	small	home

LOOKING GOOD FROM EVERY ANGLE             are we back
Instead of      on	products	like	Scyon™	Linea	                      In	addition,	using	the	Axent	trim	with	
the	smarter	small	home
     one of the key elements
     of the design approach
     was to design rooms,
     heights and w...
the	smarter	small	home
window.	“This	wall	is	the	one	we	get		          now	on	the	market,”	he	says.	“As	a	result,	
our	lig...
the	smarter	small	home

                         counting the carbon
                         Analyse, reduce and offset: ...
small	is	the	new	big

Small is beautiful. In fact, after years
of expanding home sizes, it seem...
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
Smarter Small Home Brochure
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Smarter Small Home Brochure

  1. 1. LookHome iSSue 7 / 2009 All ThE SmmiNi INSIDE: AFFORDABLE HOUSING REVEALED homE uE MEET THE iSS bRAinS bEHind THE SOLuTiOn wHAT’S THE RECiPE FOR LOw-wASTE buiLdinG? THE SMARTER SMALL HOME StyliSh. liveable. very affordable. SNEAK PEEK How to count the carbon in your home
  2. 2. contents LookHome 1 WeLcome To The smarTer smaLL home™ Step into the future with this 2 innovative Australian home. 2 fading dream? With housing affordability 25 in crisis, is there really a solution? 10 an innovaTive journey meet the team behind the house that’s setting benchmarks in Australia. 14 inTroducing … 25 sTyLe and susTainaBiLiTy The smarTer smaLL home Why good things come Stylish. Livable. And very affordable. in small packages. 14 27 The producTs What materials create The Smarter Small Home. 31 The nexT sTeps Interested? Here’s what 27 you can do next. 32 Bonus offers Find out about the other LookHome™ magazines, awards and even TV! 31 Cover illustration: Christopher nielsen 32 Publisher: James Hardie Australia Pty Ltd Editorial direction: Spindrift Media Art direction: North Design + Branding Printing: Offset Alpine Printing All reasonable efforts have been undertaken to make sure that information presented in this issue of LookHome™ is accurate at the time of printing. However, to the extent possible at law, James Hardie excludes all liability for any errors or omissions in information that may occur. Reproduction of LookHome™ in whole or part is prohibited without James Hardie’s prior permission. All correspondence to: LookHome™, James Hardie Australia Pty Ltd, 10 Colquhoun Street, Rosehill NSW 2142. Phone: 13 11 03. © 2009 James Hardie Australia Pty Ltd. ™ and ® denote a trademark or registered mark owned by James Hardie International Finance BV. The design and building of The Smarter Small Home™, featured in this issue of LookHome, is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without the permission of Brett Blacklow, Earth Spirit Home Pty Ltd. looKhoMe
  3. 3. WeLcome home CreATIng dreAm HomeS And we received from many readers We’ll compare it to traditional ways communities can be a journey in our recent survey, we know of building. most of all though, that’s filled with excitement but that you want sustainable home we’ll show how this home delivers it’s also potentially fraught with ideas that minimise impact on the desires of many Australians — difficulties. While dreaming up the environment. You also want affordably. Let’s face it, most of us images of beautiful spaces and beautiful homes that you can afford. love the outdoors and backyard welcoming rooms is easy, it can We reveal one great option. barbecues, but we also want family be a challenge turning this into In this special issue of LookHome™, rooms that are home to the Xbox reality. In recent years, this has we look at an affordable, stylish and plasma TV. The Smarter Small been made increasingly hard and sustainable solution: The Home takes all of this into account, with rising home and land prices. Smarter Small Home™. while keeping a firm lid on costs. The problem of housing We’ll take you behind the scenes Join us in exploring The Smarter affordability in Australia is a real to look at all the ways this home has Small Home. You can use some of one — and many of you want to been designed and built a smarter the ideas in your own home and know if there is a light on the way. We’ll look at energy, carbon create a space that’s truly affordable, horizon. Thanks to the feedback footprint, and of course, costs. sustainable — and livable. looKhoMe 1
  4. 4. fading dreAm? An increasing number of Australians are finding it hard to afford their own home. Will home ownership become a thing of the past – or is there a viable solution? wORdS VALERIE KHOO Jupiterimages / getty images 2 looKhoMe
  5. 5. housing affordability looKhoMe 3
  6. 6. IT ALL ComeS doWn To SImpLe prices have increased markedly in recent economics. Housing prices are high years, by much more than consumer because demand outstrips supply. That’s prices or incomes. the core of the problem. But when you It states the average house price in peel back the layers to analyse the issue the capital cities is now equivalent to of housing affordability in Australia, there more than seven years of average lies a complex web of drivers that range earnings. The equivalent figure from the from changing demographics and lack of 1950s to the early 1980s is three years of infrastructure to complex planning laws average earnings. hindering progress and innovation. The Affordability Index compiled by the There have been numerous studies Commonwealth Bank and the Housing and reports on housing affordability in Industry Association (which also takes Australia. While they may use different into account interest rate levels) shows It’s a paradox standards to measure affordability, the the index has recently reached its lowest that we can results are the same. There’s a problem — points (of affordability) in the 24 years for be short of and it’s not getting better. which it’s been compiled. The Senate report ‘A good house Another benchmark used to measure land. But the is hard to find: Housing affordability housing stress, both in Australia and reality is that in Australia’ was released by the overseas, is known as the ‘ontario population and Senate Select Committee on Housing measure’ or the ‘30/40 rule’. This restricts Affordability in Australia in June 2008. the measurement to households in the immigration Citing figures from the Australian Bureau lowest 40% of income distribution that is rising. of Statistics, the report stated that house are paying more than 30% of income In the 1990s, Australian families have seen the rise of the McMansion (right), overly large homes that maximise use of lot size. 4 looKhoMe
  7. 7. housing affordability on housing. According to the Senate • Changing demographics. In the report: “on this definition, it is estimated meantime, typical family households that there are now over one million low from generations ago have given and middle income families and singles way to fewer children, single people Size of new in housing stress. This represents about staying unmarried for longer and a reSidential 10% of the population. greater incidence of divorce. Quite buildingS These are just some of the indicators simply, more homes are now needed (floor area) confirming the crisis in housing to accommodate what was once a affordability. So what are the key drivers single household. that impact the issue? • Government incentives. State and 149.7m2 federal schemes to assist home buyers demand and suppLy — such as the First Home owners In a country as huge as Australia, it’s a grant — have also helped drive demand. 1984–1995 paradox that we can be short of land. • A penchant for bigger homes. But the reality is that population and According to the Australian Bureau immigration is rising. demand has also of Statistics Year Book Australia, been driven by factors such as: 2005, there has been an increase in 205.7m2 • Easier access to credit. The low the size of new residential buildings. interest rates that pervaded the late These figures show that the average 1990s and the rise of non-bank lenders floor area of new residential buildings (such as Aussie Home Loans and increased by 37.4% (from 149.7m2 to 2002–2003 Wizard) boosted buying power for 205.7m2) between 1984 to 1995 and Source: Australian Bureau consumers, driving up demand. 2002 to 2003. of Statistics, 2005. JUPITER IMAgEs / ©NEwsPIx: MARzollA DEAN looKhoMe 5
  8. 8. This trend is evidenced in the rise of investment: more of it must be better.” mcmansions — a term coined in the 1990s While there is no shortage of demand, to describe homes typically larger than the opposite is true for supply. According average and often built to maximise as to the Senate report, there are several much lot space as possible. factors limiting supply. despite this trend towards bigger homes, social researcher Hugh mackay compLex sTaTe and LocaL points out in The Sydney morning Herald governmenT pLanning (February 23, 2008): “we’re now a society processes in which solo households outnumber The report states these are “too complex those where couples live with their and often involve long delays and high James alCoCk: FairFaxphotos / getty images / photolibrary children. … By [2026] about 35% of all costs”. The Senate Select Committee on Australian households will contain only Housing Affordability in Australia goes one person, and the one- and two-person so far as to suggest that swift reforms household will be recognised for what it are needed. “The state governments is: the demographic mainstream. … The should reform and simplify their planning Top: By 2026, one- and two-person households shrinking household means that houses processes so that local governments can will be recognised as the themselves will eventually have to change, process planning applications quickly.” demographic mainstream. although there’s not much sign of that Above: low interest yet: as our households become smaller, infrasTrucTure charges rates in the 1990s drove our houses continue to expand, partly You can’t create a livable community up demand for houses as auctions became because so many of us are still committed without substantial infrastructure. buying frenzies. to the idea that home ownership is a good demographer Bernard Salt writes in 6 looKhoMe
  9. 9. housing affordability The Australian (August 7, 2008): “To installed after residents had moved in. significantly lift the supply of affordable It goes on to state: “now, the dwellings requires investment in urban infrastructure is installed as the land infrastructure such as public transport. is developed and is increasingly being The reason is that affordable and funded by specific charges on developers. developable tracts of land on the edge of These charges are significantly higher capital cities that could make a difference in new South Wales … and may be to supply and affordability are located significantly reducing the supply of As our households beyond the city limits. land for housing in that state.” become smaller, our “perhaps the reason why previous generations could deliver affordable income hasn’T caughT up houses continue housing was because at that time Amp and the national Centre for Social to expand, partly there was not the public consciousness and economic modelling (nATSem) and concern about car usage and the released research (march 2008) on because so many provision of associated urban services.” trends in housing affordability and of us are still However, it’s not just the existence or housing stress, 1995/96 to 2005/06. committed to the creation of infrastructure that is at the The report ‘Wherever I lay my debt, that’s core of the issue. It’s also about who my home’ revealed that while property idea that home pays for it. The Senate report makes prices have jumped 400% since 1986, ownership is a the point that previously, infrastructure income has only increased by 120%. good investment: was typically paid by local and state It also indicates that housing governments out of rates and taxation affordability (or lack of it) is, unsurprisingly, more of it must revenue. Furthermore, it was often linked with housing stress. “one of the be better. looKhoMe 7
  10. 10. striking results from this report is the those for and against this solution. Urban number of first home buyers in housing magazine cites professor peter newman, stress,” states the report. “nearly two- director of the Institute for Sustainability thirds (61.7%) of first home buyers are in and Technology policy at murdoch housing stress. This is the sting in the tail University in Western Australia, explaining of the recent housing boom … that sprawling cities are not the solution. Future “The mortgage noose now remains “The more sprawl the city has, the generations of around the household neck for much higher the household expenditure on longer periods of time, with those in transport,” newman is quoted in Urban. Australians will their late 40s, 50s and 60s now being “You see it here in Australia on the urban be less likely much more likely to still be paying fringe, where poor families are hit by to enter their off the mortgage than Australians of transport costs. Building freeways is the the same age a decade ago. If these problem, not the solution.” old age with trends continue, future generations of newman provides Houston and dallas the mortgage Australians will be less likely to enter their in Texas as examples of sprawl that has paid off and old age with the mortgage paid off and spread so far that “people now spend their home underpinning their financial more on transport than on shelter”. their home security in retirement.” The Senate report also points out: underpinning “The way to improve housing affordability their financial To spraWL or noT To spraWL is not to build cheap houses on the An obvious answer to the housing outskirts of cities away from employment, security in affordability crisis is to allow cities to services and public transport links. retirement. grow and sprawl ever outward. There are This simply shifts costs from housing ©IsTockPhoTo.coM: MVP64 / ©IsTockPhoTo.coM: JhoRRocks / gETTy IMAgEs 8 looKhoMe
  11. 11. housing affordability to the cost — in dollars and time — of we need to take the meaning of home transport. rather, the aim must be to more seriously, too. That means paying build affordable housing in areas where more attention to the need for people to infrastructure can provide for and attract connect; the need to build communities; new residents.” the need to develop civic pride … “We’ve always assumed the great iT Takes a viLLage Australian dream was about owning your In contrast to the idea of increasingly own home on a suburban quarter-acre. isolated suburbs, there are those who are While that version of the dream persists advocates of a return to community living. for many of us, the dream was always This concept underpins the new Urbanism about creating a particular way of life in a movement, which originally stemmed particular kind of community, and those from the US and gained prominence in aspirations are changing.” the 1980s. So the challenge is to be able to fulfil It encouraged the creation of walkable this dream in a climate undergoing an communities, accessible public spaces, economic downturn and housing crisis and featured a range of housing types while catering to the diverse — yet unique — to suit different demographic groups — — needs of Australian home owners. It can and created local jobs. be done. over the following pages, you’ll As social researcher and author of discover an innovative housing solution Advance Australia … Where? Hugh mackay that is a first step towards addressing the State of wrote in The Sydney morning Herald: “If housing crisis in Australia. And the best Shock we are to take housing more seriously part is, this is only the beginning. According to the AMP/ NATsEM report on housing affordability between 1996 and 2006, all Australian states experienced significant drops in housing affordability. It states: • New south wales is Australia’s least affordable state, with homes costing 8.3 times annual disposable household income in 2006, up almost 40% on 1996 figures, while the Northern Territory is the easiest place to buy a house, with house prices just five times median disposable income. • western Australia wasn’t far behind New New Urbanism sees south wales, with a shift away from housing unaffordability cookie-cutter housing increasing 63% to 7.45 to livable communities times annual disposable where people are encouraged to income, while Tasmania interact. saw the biggest jump, up 65% to 6.1 times annual disposable income. looKhoMe 9
  12. 12. wORdS VALERIE KHOO an innovaTive JoUrneY The Smarter Small Home™ is the result of years of research, a meeting of minds and a duo who relished the challenge of finding an affordable housing solution. photolibrary. aDDitional WorDs: suZy yates 10 looKhoMe
  13. 13. creative thinking WHen KeVIn doodneY LooKed AT home, which they defined as one costing housing affordability problem in Australia, less than $300,000 for house and land the Smarter he knew there had to be a solution. But package. With land often representing Smaller home with over 30 years’ experience in property at least half the total cost of a home iS juSt the and real estate, doodney knew complex planning laws and regulations could and land package, doodney knew that a small lot size was crucial. He decided on beginning. hinder innovation in solving the issue. a lot size of 10 metres by 30 metres; the imagine … “As a nation, our home-owner habits challenge was to design a livable, stylish the juSt-me home Designed for a young developed when land wasn’t an issue and and sustainable home on it. “ couple just starting out, we were sold on this idea that bigger is He believes The Smarter Small Home a couple just retiring, better. I can’t understand why we keep project is set to be a turning point for or even a single person. building these massive houses with room housing affordability in Australia. “We This compact 52 square for two and three cars,” says doodney, are showing people that you don’t need metre design will feature who heads up LJ Hooker Land marketing to sacrifice livability and sustainability to one bedroom with lounge, and is former chief executive officer achieve affordability,” he says. dining and kitchen, a two- of the Australian Institute of property The project isn’t just a smart innovation way bathroom, balcony, management. “Anyone who tries to build on a set of architectural blueprints, and, to top it off, a green something smaller typically makes it box- however. It’s become reality. In an aircraft roof garden. like and ugly. people today do not want to hangar in meeandah, a suburb close to the extendable home buy something ugly.” Brisbane airport, the house has been built. Designed for a young So he embarked on an international When doodney was looking for a couple planning a family in study to find an answer that would work factory in which to build the home, the future, its key feature is that the existing 100 square metre living area As a nation, our home-owner habits developed when land wasn’t can be easily extended when the time is right, with an issue and we were sold on this idea that bigger is better. another 100 square metres upstairs, pre-approved by council and designed to be in Australia. doodney says a catalyst in he immediately thought of James Hardie. built in a way that doesn’t this journey was when he visited the US After all, its study tour was the catalyst for disturb the landscape. as a member of the James Hardie ‘Living the idea. James Hardie agreed to not only the entertainer Benchmarks’ Streetscapes tour. The supply a hangar free for 12 months — two Designed for party lovers, tour was created primarily for Australian months for the build and the remainder this design features a developers and planners to experience for demonstration — it also offered media room and loads of firsthand some of the benchmark livable marketing support and any products the undercover outdoor areas neighbourhoods and high-density, mixed designers wanted to use from the James in 170 square metres. use urban residential districts in the US. Hardie and Scyon™ range. Why build it in an aircraft hangar? BuiLd for your TriBe new home building ideas can sometimes “Then I spent the next few years looking be stalled when it comes to actually at affordable housing across the world, constructing the home. This is because, visiting and studying places like Italy, when you build a home, your plans — London and paris,” he says. “I realised particularly any innovative concepts that, in Australia, we needed to tribalise it. — have to go through a council’s strict We had to find a solution that would suit building regulations. doodney points our lifestyle and expectations. We couldn’t out it can take five years or longer to just transplant a solution from another get approval. country. It wouldn’t work.” Building it in a hangar — where you doodney identified a host of factors don’t have to wait for council approval that would be needed for the solution to — meant the result could be showcased work. The goal was to build an affordable immediately. “We’re inviting council looKhoMe 11
  14. 14. planners, developers and builders to The smarter small see the result,” he says. “Keep an open home is ideal for mind to what we’ve created and see if Aussie traditions of backyard cricket and this suits your village. If not, ask yourself outdoor barbecues. what does? Use this as a discussion point to create well-informed outcomes. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s a demonstration. It may not be the only answer — but it’s definitely a start.” Working TogeTher doodney believes it’s important to work together with council planners and elected councils to explore what’s possible. He points out that many council regulations and building guidelines have developed over a historical period forming a “book of rules” which can also vary greatly between councils. “often, if a new building idea is put forward, they have to refer to the rule book. And if it’s different to the rule book, then it’s stopped. But that’s like studying the teachings of the old testament when we It also strengthened the link between need to be looking at the new one.” architecture and construction — it helped doodney sees this as an important me focus on what a builder needs and to step in housing innovation in Australia. think across the chasm. In this industry, “It’s frustrating to know that, in one people typically pick one side and stay industry, you can move from the record there, throwing stones at the other side!” player to the Cd player and then the ipod,” he says. “But in the housing uniqueLy ausTraLian industry there have been no significant Together, doodney and Blacklow have change since the 1970s.” created an affordable home that, To realise his vision, doodney called although small, still incorporates all on the skills of designer Brett Blacklow the elements of a home demanded to create The Smarter Small Home. by many Australians. The duo met 15 years ago and have since the backyard: Backyard cricket collaborated on numerous projects. wouldn’t be the same without … a leFt: Jupiter images / getty images / top: arChiteCt: tone Wheeler Blacklow studied architecture at backyard. With a lot of only 300 square I believe that too Queensland University of Technology metres, The Smarter Small Home is built and supported himself while at university over two storeys on about 65 square many people working for a builder. The experience gave metres. After allowing for front and side try to tackle him a unique insight into the way volume setbacks that means the backyard is affordability builders run their businesses as well as about 120 square metres. “When you the cost and product constraints involved. have two storeys, you use up less land,” with a low set “most architects have no really says doodney. “I believe that too many (single-storey) solid understanding of how a building people try to tackle affordability with a solution – but goes together; so it was probably the low set (single-storey) solution — but that most important thing I did,” Blacklow uses up the backyard.” that uses up the says. “It gave me a really good professor Tony Hall from griffith backyard. understanding of where the money went. University has been researching the 12 looKhoMe
  15. 15. creative thinking such as cross ventilation and sliding doors that open on the outside of the house (thus doubling the opening compared to if it slid open on the inside). “It also has a single switch that turns off all stand-by appliances so that you only have to flick one switch when you leave the home,” says doodney. “We’ve also incorporated indicators on switches that can tell you when you are in off-peak electricity. Humans need reminders and this helps Brett Blacklow you figure out it’s a good time to use your washing machine. It also saves on your energy bill.” dYnamic duo australian-made: “Importantly, Brett Blacklow is the Australians want their products to be Director of Earth spirit made here. They want real people to home, an architecture create it — a carpenter, a roofer, a builder. and construction company It gives their home a sense of inheritance. he founded in 2002. They don’t want a house that comes in a having studied architecture box from a factory.” at QUT in the late 1980s, his early career was low wastage: Accordingly to doodney, spent in the trenches, when you build a home, 5% of the cost working for a medium-sized disappearance of backyards from new of the home is typically wasted in project builder. Australian homes over the past 10 materials. “We decided to build the home to a grid so we’ve reduced waste kevin Doodney is the years and, with it, the increase in poorly Director of lJ hooker land designed houses that lack natural light significantly,” he says. “many home Marketing Queensland. and maximise floor space. builders design the home and then cut with a real estate career Hall says we need a campaign to save the products to fit. We’ve worked the spanning 30 years, he has “the real Australian lifestyle”. The answer other way around, we’ve factored in the blitzed the sales for lJ isn’t necessarily bigger lots. “You could size of the products first — that means hooker nationally achieving double the Australian housing density less of it goes in the bin.” Top salesperson for eight [per hectare] and save your backyard The above are just some examples years running. he has also by making the front yard smaller and of the innovative ideas found in The successfully re-designed building two storeys,” he says. Smarter Small Home. “good design is and regenerated ailing just brainpower,” says Blacklow. “We’ve residential estates the indoor-outdoor home: “We’ve throughout south-east stuck Jamie durie in there!” says got the best brains in the business Queensland on behalf doodney, referring to the Australian collaborating on this and future projects. of financiers. celebrity landscaper, an advocate of We made a commitment that we wanted “The outdoor room”. to make a difference to the industry, “other cultures shut their houses down to do something significant, and this is but we know Australians like loads of just the beginning.” natural light. There is also room for the doodney says that he knows this house plasma TV, but it’s situated so that you will sell. “every vendor I have shown this can see it from outside the home. That home to wants one. This is what people means you can have a drink outside and want to buy and that’s the clincher. still watch the footy.” It is a demonstration in affordability, energy-efficient: doodney says his and I dare you to improve on this,” he goal was to create a home with a low challenges.“don’t tell us what we have carbon footprint. The home incorporates done wrong with this home. Tell me how kevin Doodney smart passive heating/cooling strategies, we can make the next one even better.” looKhoMe 13
  16. 16. wORdS AMANDA FALCONER The Solution InTrodUCIng … he smarTer T maLL home s A small lot, small house, smart choice of materials and an efficient construction method are the key ingredients in delivering a home that stylish, sustainable — and very affordable. illustrator: iain mCkellar: overallpiCture.Com / arChiteCt: brett blaCkloW 14
  17. 17. the smarter small home WHen deSIgner BreTT BLACKLoW they needed to make the land size small. sat down with project instigator Kevin The decision to create a lot 10 metres doodney to try to create the archetypal wide by 30 metres long set up a series of affordable home, he didn’t begin with the design constraints; they became a design home itself. Instead, it was the size of the problem that Blacklow and his team lot that was his first consideration. As needed to solve. For example, having the the cost of land is often at least half the smallest block of land meant that the cost of a total house and land package, home really had to be a two-storey house. both Blacklow and doodney knew that “generally doing a three-bedroom, to deliver an affordable housing product, two-storey house isn’t a wise decision,” looKhoMe 15
  18. 18. Blacklow says. “There’s more surface area joists or the traditional slab on ground. Show me on the outside of the house, so there’s These screw-in piers are typically installed the moneY more scaffolding and it will take longer in just half a day and, at this point, and cost more money [than a single- the foundations are finished. no bulk Blacklow is well qualified to assess the real costs storey home].” However the land saving earthworks are needed. of construction. when is so significant, Blacklow and doodney Blacklow says the type of land he added up the bill to felt that with some thoughtful design, available in developers’ land banks was construct The smarter the additional costs would be offset. a consideration when choosing the way small home™, the total was the sub-floor would be constructed. about $127,583 excluding smarTer producT much of the land in many areas of the gsT. with gsT, the cost seLecTion — The roof south-east Queensland and some parts was just over $140,000. Blacklow says that careful product selection of Sydney and nSW is sloping. In other Blacklow then calculated helped claw back costs — particularly when places, like perth, for example, the soil the cost to build the home running and maintenance costs were on land available for development is substituting the James thrown into the mix. While the actual sale considered reactive. hardie products with price of the home was the first key thing to A senior project designer with Land timber weatherboards and get right, it was also important to ensure and Housing development in the Western flat sheet ply cladding. lower life cycle costs as well. Australian department of Housing and he then did another calculation, substituting often, time is money, so the speed of Works says that more difficult sites are the piers with an ‘M’class construction also drove product decisions. now over-represented relative to the flat concrete slab on flat The team was always thinking of products sandy sites that are traditionally preferred ground, brick veneer walls that could be installed and simply finished; for development. instead of lightweight cladding, and a pitched concrete tiled roof using While the actual sale price of the home was the first key thing to standard roof trusses. The total costs were $150,808 get right, it was also important to ensure lower life cycle costs. and $166,261 respectively, including gsT. ones that involved the least number of As a result, site costs for fill and of course, as with any construction layers. For example, Blacklow retaining are anywhere from $15,000 costing analysis of this chose an all-in-one Bondor sandwich to $20,000 per lot and “will play an kind, the primary intent is panel for the roof, which meant the increasing part in the future,” he says. to illustrate in broad terms relative costs between roof was fully installed in half a day. elsewhere in the country, builders different construction “one product turns up to site,” he says. frequently tell developers and consumers methods. Actual costs “When it’s finished we have our roof that to build on sloping sites will cost would depend on many structure, insulation, sheeting, ceiling ‘thirty grand extra’. They arrive at this factors, including individual structure and finished ceiling. Instead cost very roughly with an approach based building firms’ designs, of having a scaffold up for two or three on using a concrete slab. locations and supply weeks, it’s all done in half a day.” Blacklow believes that the industry has agreements. Using the Bondor panel didn’t inhibit been building the same way for two or Blacklow outlined these design options either. While there are three hundred years and that it’s really drivers of cost variances: some span constraints to consider, the hard to change people’s thinking. “While • Quick and efficient panel can be used on anything from an screw-in piers have been around for ages, installation with almost flat roof to one with a steep pitch. hardly anyone uses them,” he says. “The screw-in footings. The beauty of them is that we don’t have to slab on ground requires smarTer producT come out and make a flat area and we arChiteCt: brett blaCkloW a level pad, whereas the seLecTion — The suB-fLoor don’t have to dig or pour footings and box raised house can be built At the opposite end of the building — the up the slab. We just screw these things over a small fall without ground — another smart product choice into the ground, we put the posts on coNTINUED oPPosITE was made. Twenty-two steel screw-in that afternoon, and on day two we start piers were used instead of brick piers and installing the floor framing.” 16 looKhoMe
  19. 19. the smarter small home coNTINUED incurring any real extra cost. That’s because the screw-in footings don’t require excavation and don’t produce a big pile of excess soil that needs to be dumped or spread over the remainder of the site. In addition, installing the screw-in footings means two people are there over a half day, whereas a slab uses seven or more subcontractor teams and happens over a one to two week period. • cheaper plumbing costs. Typically the plumber’s charge is slightly cheaper when plumbing suspended pipework under a timber framed floor than it is buried under a slab. • no cost requirements for termite protection. The slab on ground requires termite protection to the slab penetrations (at the very minimum) The first smarter small home whereas the raised house has no cost has been built in a hangar in requirements for termite protection. QlD. It has achieved a 5.5 star • greater cost-effectiveness in using rating, modelled with the BERs Pro 4.1 in climate zone 2. lightweight products than brick veneer with steel support. The costs of the brick veneer skin and the requirement for steel support bars over openings makes it a more costly solution than using lightweight sheet products. It would be costly to reproduce the overhangs and window sizes that are in this house if brickwork were used. In addition, the heavyweight brickwork requires a metal scaffold, not an aluminium one, which is more expensive to hire. The labour time required for brick installation is typically longer than sheet cladding so, again, the scaffold stays up for a much longer period of time and therefore incurs more cost. • reduced scaffolding costs. Building a traditional roof is more time consuming and costly as it also requires a scaffold in place for a longer period of time. The sandwich panel roof solution is installed in half a day using two carpenters where the traditional trussed roof and ceiling system uses up to five different subcontractor teams and typically occurs over a two-week period. looKhoMe 17
  20. 20. smarTer producT that’s made from the Scyon™ material, seLecTion — fLoors a lightweight cement composite. When it comes to floor framing Blacklow Unlike particleboard, Scyon™ won’t chose timber joists. But not just any swell when wet. When water penetrates joists. He designed the home around the materials like particleboard, it causes most cost-effective joists he could find — it to swell. Then tiles can crack, bulge 245mm by 90mm Hyne ply I Beams. The and pop off. retail cost of these is about $8 per lineal metre compared with two or three times smarTer producTs — WaLLs that amount for hardwood or laminated For the wall frames the team chose veneer lumber (LVLs). prefabricated timber frames. Again, The maximum span of the joists this this means the frames turn up on the size is 4.2m. “So we tried to design the day they’re needed and it speeds up structure of our house and our floor plate construction. Timber is also easier around the limitations of our economical than metal for carpenters to adjust materials,” Blacklow says. if a mistake has been made. “Typically no-one approaches it like However, as the designers began to that. The builder or designer comes up consider the cladding materials that with a floor plan and then he works out would go on the frame, Blacklow felt how to make it stand up.” he needed to set some ground rules Blacklow feels this is a recipe for about product usage with project adding all sorts of costs that aren’t partner James Hardie. You are working with the “grain” of the street to create identity ... Making frontages “active” creates life, and gives vitality to the public realm. immediately obvious into a building, “I didn’t want this to be the James because the designer or builder has to Hardie affordable house,” he says. make the structure work. He says that “obviously the prototype house is built with his approach “you can pare down in James Hardie’s empty factory space, the costs”. For example, the number but I didn’t want any pressure to use of bearers (the chunkier, heavier James Hardie® products without me supporting timbers) is reduced and arriving independently at that decision. the cost-effective joists selected are I thought we’d use three products, but at used to their maximum capacity. the end of the day we’ve used eight or With the floor framing nailed, the nine — Scyon™ Stria™ and Axon™ cladding, design team began to think about the Axent™ trim, Linea™ weatherboard type of material that would go on top and Secura™ interior flooring, as well of the frame. The most inexpensive as HardiFlex® sheets, HardiColor®, flooring is particleboard and on top compressed for sunhoods and pineridge® of that, tiling can be a good option, lining in the walk-in robes!” particularly when the finished price After researching exterior cladding of between $110 and $140 a square metre materials, Blacklow and the team for timber flooring is factored in. concluded that there is “nothing that can arChiteCt: brett blaCkloW Above: speed of construction Blacklow felt that he could source “a touch a few of the James Hardie products and designing for good tile for around $15 a square metre price-wise”. He says that then when minimal waste that could be laid for around $45 a square he found that paint companies Wattyl keep costs down in The smarter metre”. Instead of particleboard, the and Taubmans provide 15-year paint small home. substrate could be a flooring product warranties for certain paints used 18 looKhoMe
  21. 21. the smarter small home LOOKING GOOD FROM EVERY ANGLE are we back to front? In its most compact form, fronT & rear eLevaTion The smarter small home has been designed for a rear-loaded lot with the house at the front. Instead of having a front yard and backyard, there is one sizeable yard. “we haven’t got a big driveway and wasted 120 square metres,” Blacklow says. “Instead we’ve just used 30 square metres for the front.” If the home is to be used on lots that aren’t rear loaded, they’ll probably be slightly bigger blocks. For example, side eLevaTions a large Queensland developer has already commissioned five smarter small homes after seeing a sneak preview. They will be built on 15 metre wide lots. Urban designer sharni howe says the combination of building height, massing and scale, built form elements, and the interface between uses are fundamental to creating a sense of identity and place. she explains that at this level, you are working with the “grain” of the street to create identity. some aspects deserve more attention than others. from aBove Making frontages “active” creates life, and gives vitality to the public realm. howe says that the rule of thumb is that the more frontages on the street, the more active it will be. In areas where frontages have tended to be dominated by garages, rear access lanes can create a more active and safer streetscape environment. looKhoMe 19
  22. 22. Instead of on products like Scyon™ Linea In addition, using the Axent trim with weatherboard and Scyon™ Stria cladding, its 15-year paint warranty also creates choosing he thought: “This is sensational.” a saving over the life of the building. products that Time saved in construction was another “Typically we couldn’t put on a pine timber need detailed plus. “many of James Hardie’s products batten and not have a drama in under are sheet products and so a carpenter 10 years,” Blacklow says. flashings and can cover an area of three square metres jointings, in 10 minutes. So we’ve chosen products repeTiTion is The that cover a big bit of area when they go deveLoper’s friend products like on,” Blacklow says. A key driver of the affordability of a HardiFlex® In addition, instead of choosing development versus that of a single sheets have products that need detailed flashings home is building the exact same floor and jointings, products like HardiFlex® plan. “When we’re doing this we want to been used. sheets have been used. “We have this make the outside of these homes look detail that we’ve used that puts a little bit as different as possible, while still being of a snakeskin (damp-proof membrane) essentially the same,” says Blacklow. It’s flashing behind the joint in the sheets this approach that helps ensure a vibrant with a batten [Scyon™ Axent trim] community instead of the homogeneity arChiteCt: brett blaCkloW on top. You’ve got a finished joint and that planners, developers and consumers we can put on as many battens as we are moving away from. like.” This is a cheaper way to make a “The thing I’d say about these products weather-tight joint than using folded is that you can give me one standard metal flashings . flat sheet like HardiFlex and I can give 20 looKhoMe
  23. 23. the smarter small home Shining the light on running FLOOR PLANS AT A GLANCE coStS Running costs were a key consideration for the design team. According to the chairman of the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency committee, Dr Tony Marker, one watt consumed in stand-by is, as a general rule, approximately equal to $1 per year. A single appliance using eight watts of power in stand-by will add approximately $8 per year to your electricity bill. stand-by power consumption accounts for up to 10% or more ground fLoor of Australia’s household electricity usage. This costs Australian households more than $5 billion and generates more than 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. To help reduce stand-by power use, Blacklow and the team added an override switch at the front door that can turn off the circuit that has attached to it all the discretionary appliances like televisions, stereos and the like. when you come home you just flip the switch back on. illustrator: iain mCkellar: overallpiCture.Com In addition, off-peak power will be connected to the firsT fLoor house, and power points that indicate when off- peak power is available will be installed in areas, such as laundries, that The floor plan of The Smarter Small Home has been reproduced with the permission of architect Brett Blacklow, Earth Spirit Home Pty Ltd. As the plans, sketches, computer images and models of The Smarter Small Home are protected by copyright they have significant energy- cannot be reproduced without permission. using appliances. looKhoMe 21
  24. 24. meaSuring waSte one of the key elements of the design approach was to design rooms, heights and walls to the size of materials available. “when I buy timber, it has to be in 300mm increments,” says Blacklow. “Plasterboard is two different widths. If I’m not thinking of those things when I’m designing, then I’m potentially buying more than I need and I’m also paying someone to cut it down to the right size.” In addition, the team has developed the design to incorporate a number of the offcuts that may be smart innovation: generated. For example, sliding doors stack on the they use hardiFlex sheets outside to maximise the in certain places, and then opening, linking the home to its outdoor room. also use the 600mm offcuts in another. That’s instead of using full sheets and throwing the offcuts away. you five or six different finishes. It can glazing is a building component “For example, plasterers be done without texturing or anything that contributes disproportionately often line the inside walls by sheeting straight over like that, but through using vertical or to a building’s energy ratings. In an a window or door and then horizontal battens, or smooth ones or unpublished study ratings appeared cutting it out,” Blacklow really protruding ones. These products to be directly related to the overall says. Then half an hour just have a bucketload of flexibility at a proportion of glazing and none achieved later they need the same really affordable price,” he says. a 5 star rating if its glazing ratio was size as that or smaller and in excess of approximately 26% of its so they cut off a new piece WindoWs aren’T jusT floor area. (This study and the factors of plaster.” a hoLe in The WaLL that contribute to energy efficiency are Because all the waste on a Blacklow knew that the typical length covered in more detail in The Smarter building site is paid for, it of plasterboard and other lining materials green Book, available at http://www. makes sense to minimise it. is 2,400mm, so he set ceiling heights jameshardie.com.au/smarter/green.html.) Typically, skips have to be at a standard 2.4m high. Windows If windows are poorly chosen, sized, hired and then transported wouldn’t just be a “hole in the wall” oriented or protected, it can allow too to a transfer station or either. When considering where to much solar radiation into the building recycler and then fees paid locate them, some key questions would causing overheating in summer. In on that. on this house, the need to be answered first. addition, overglazing causes excessive arChiteCt: brett blaCkloW team aims to reduce the total waste produced by Is the window for access, ventilation, heat losses in winter. up to 50%. view or daylight — or a combination With these factors in mind, Blacklow of those factors? How can enough of decided that instead of putting a window “I’m very comfortable we’ll achieve that,” Blacklow says. them be used while at the same time in every wall, they would break it down minimising the number of them? to determine the function of the specific 22 looKhoMe
  25. 25. the smarter small home window. “This wall is the one we get now on the market,” he says. “As a result, our light through; this opening is for every decision we’ve made has been access; this is for ventilation — and with the goal of creating a space that when we get to one for ventilation, feels large even though it’s small. And we make it a louvre.” Louvres allow we’re not decorating it with things that the wall to be opened in percentages. aren’t needed. When it’s a view window, it has been “We’ve been intent on getting the made a fixed window, because Blacklow architecture to do the work. We’ve been claims that’s five times cheaper than trying to make a great cake, not squirt a having an openable one. The western whole lot of pretty icing on it.” wall of The Smarter Small Home has no You be the judge. The Smarter Small windows at all, but it does use makrolon® Home is available for tours from April 2, smart shading and multiwall sheets. 2009. Check at www.smartersmallhome. window placements At less than half the price of normal com.au for details. are important. glazing, this polycarbonate product floods the house with natural light while reflecting 91% of the western heat load. Its stylish and unique look also adds to the aesthetic appeal of the project. Blacklow says this approach means that the total window bill is 65% to 70% that of a normal volume builder, because they don’t usually approach the design of windows in this way. “They put double- hungs here, sliders there, and they haven’t saved money where they could,” he says. hardWorking spaces In a house as small as this one, in total about 120 square metres, no space can be wasted. As a consequence, there are no hallways. Blacklow says they’ve also tried to use a lot of combined rooms and, in some ways, they’ve reverted back to features popular in the 1950s, like eat-in kitchens. Instead of separate kitchen, dining and living rooms that aren’t all necessarily well used, the designers have created a large room with a kitchen at one end with space for a large table that can be used for food preparation and dining. Alternatively, a mobile kitchen preparation bench and a smaller dining table can be used. Blacklow says flexibility is the key. “While we’ve been designing a house that’s affordable, we know that in creating this we’re taking people a few steps beyond everything else they’re seeing looKhoMe 23
  26. 26. the smarter small home counting the carbon Analyse, reduce and offset: (we modelled the smarter small gFl wind farm in gudhepanchgani that should be the recipe home design but with a concrete in the state of Maharashtra, for designers and builders slab, brick veneer and concrete India. operational since April who are serious about their roof tiles). see graph below. 2007, the 23.1Mw wind farm carbon footprint. is made up of 14 wind turbines where the carbon each capable of generating you can’t manage what you comeS from 1.65Mw of energy and displacing can’t measure, and there is climate Friendly reports that, 51,618 tonnes of greenhouse energy used in lots of ways that based on its analysis ,most of gas emissions caused by the you may not have even thought the emissions from The smarter burning of fossil fuels. of. when it comes to houses, small home come from steel, climate Friendly Managing aluminium and plastics; together climate Friendly often supports Director Joel Fleming says these account for 60% of its projects in developing countries that the carbon emissions total emissions. In the case of like china and India. “In part, from buildings are actually the traditionally built home, this is because Australian one of the greatest contributors most of its emissions come projects don’t currently to Australia’s greenhouse from concrete, clay bricks, reduce emissions over and gas emissions. steel and plasterboard, which above the cuts already together account for 58.6% required by regulation,” climate Friendly’s approach is Joel Fleming says. to help organisations understand of its total emissions. and measure their carbon They also quote csIRo data footprint by working out how indicating that the average many tonnes of carbon they energy intensity for a high produce. They then look at energy intensive house is ways to reduce it, like using approximately 5,500 megajoules which iS greener? green energy from a wind per square metre (MJ/m2) while farm, for example. To offset the average energy intensity 2.0 6,000 other unavoidable emissions for a low energy intensive house 5,000 5,274 they might suggest purchasing 1.5 1.62 is approximately 4,500MJ/m2. 4,000 renewable energy carbon climate Friendly’s analysis 3,721 credits from independently 1.16 1.0 3,000 James Hardie kyoto-compliant projects. demonstrates that the energy 2,000 intensity for both The smarter has offset James hardie asked climate small home (3,721MJ/m2) and 0.5 1,000 Friendly to measure the carbon the carbon footprint of The smarter small the traditionally built home 0.0 0 (5,274MJ/m2) are less energy produced in the home . It found that about ™ intensive than the average co2 used to Energy 139 tonnes of co2 were used manufacture intensity construction to manufacture the materials low and high energy intensive materials and (MJ/m2) houses. The smarter small home of T Smarter he used in the home as well as to is significantly less than any construct the actually construct it. That works home (tonnes/m2) Small Home out at about 1.16 tonnes of co2 of them. by supporting per square metre. This compares James hardie has offset A traditionally built home to almost 195 tonnes, or 1.62 the carbon produced in the The smarter small home wind farms tonnes per square metre, of co2 construction of The smarter in India. for a traditionally built home small home by supporting the 1 The 120 square metre home is built on a 300 square metre ‘lot’ inside an empty factory hangar belonging to James Hardie. This approach was taken to speed construction and remove the need for planning permits. It also meant that the prototype home could be used as a display for nine to 12 months. However, The Smarter Small Home is designed and intended to be built on actual sites. 2 In the relevant James Hardie technical manual, James Hardie recommends the use of folded corrosion-resistant flashings as best practice. designers and builders are responsible for ensuring the appropriateness and adequacy of the weather-tight details used on each particular project. 24 looKhoMe
  27. 27. small is the new big STYLE AND susTainaBiLiTy Small is beautiful. In fact, after years of expanding home sizes, it seems that small may actually be the new big. wORdS VALERIE KHOO The trend towards smaller, more sustainable homes is showcased in this home in Kurri Kurri, NSW, by Living Green Designer Homes. looKhoMe 25