Room by room
AS a joint initiative of the Australian Government and the design and construction industries www.yourhome.gov.au provides consumers with a technical guide to develop and encourage the design, construction and renovation of homes to be comfortable, healthy and more environmentally sustainable.
The site provides room by room advice on the ‘do’s and dont’s of home design, construction and renovations. Including tips on:
The most lived-in part of your home deserves extra special attention!
If using sliding or folding doors, make sure they seal properly when closed
If you have young children, design kitchen and living areas to overlook play areas
Use light-coloured surfaces to maximise natural light
Face glass north if you can so you get light for most of the day. If your living areas already face north this is easy. If not, your designer may still be able to find innovative solutions, such as skylights or high windows
Make sure you have openings on more than one side of your living area, to allow cooling breezes through in summer
High openable windows or skylights work well to get rid of hot air as it rises, and let in winter sun. But make sure they’re double glazed with good seals to keep in winter warmth
It’s often the kitchen that people fall in love with, and that’s important if you’re thinking about resale value.
Consider what’s worth reusing in your old kitchen. Can you leave the cabinet carcass and just replace doors and benchtops?
A good kitchen gives you room to move but is compact enough to allow easy reach between different activities. Make sure it isn’t a thoroughfare
Leave generous bench space between the sink and the cooktop, as this is the most convenient space for food preparation
Consider using drawers instead of cupboards for easier access
Locate dishwashers near sinks to allow easy loading. This also concentrates your plumbing in one space and saves money
Multi-bin sorters under sinks are a great idea – you can separate your rubbish for recycling straight away
For safety, avoid sharp benchtop corners and have at least one lockable cupboard for harmful substances
Bathrooms and Laundries
Here’s a great opportunity to add value to your home and save lots of water without having to compromise a thing.
Check for leaks and fix them right away – a leaking toilet can waste up to 95,000 litres of water a year! It’s definitely worth replacing an old water-guzzling showerhead with a water saving model. They’re inexpensive, there’s a huge range available, and they will save the average household around $100 in water and energy each year
You can also add flow regulators or aerators to make taps more efficient
Replacing a toilet is more expensive, but worth it if you have an inefficient model, particularly if it’s single flush. Save at least 15,000 litres of water a year by choosing an efficient 4-star model; there are many stylish options to choose from. Now you can also get a 5-star model with a sink over the cistern – particularly useful where space is tight
Avoid baths that are bigger than you need, as they take more water to fill.
Spas also use more energy than regular baths
The washing machine is one of the biggest users of water in the home. A 4.5-star
front loader can save you 70 litres a wash, compared to the average top loader
Consider using a clothes line instead of a dryer, to save money and laundry space. If an outdoor line isn’t an option, choose a space-saving, folding indoor clothes line
Designing your Garden
The best living spaces are those that flow from inside to outside, helping you make the most of ‘alfresco’ living. Building a shaded deck can be just as good and much cheaper than extending your living room.
Did you know that good landscape design can actually improve comfort inside your home?
You can use plants and other landscape features to provide shelter from harsh winds, or channel cooling breezes into the house
Planting is also a great way to provide shade
Use evergreen plants wherever you want permanent shading, such as on west-facing walls
Deciduous plants and vine-covered pergolas work well on the north side because they provide shade in summer and let in winter sun
Up to half the average home’s water is used for the garden, of course the exact proportion will depend on your climate and whether there are water restrictions in place, as well as the type of plants in your garden