Starting with a house that rated 1.6 stars, concrete block construction on a concrete slab with a flat roof, poor solar access and a Bushfire Attack Level of 29, we had a lot of challenges with this house. It was hot is summer, cold in winter and difficult (we thought) to update. We decided to make the most of our spectacular views and change the way we used some rooms. Our old lounge is now the master bedroom and the pokey third bedroom and living area at the back were extended by 20m2 and are now a large open living/kitchen/dining area.
We raised the roof by 150mm and added a combination of high density polyester batts, Kingspan K10 soffit board and Aircell to achieve R values between 4.5 and 6.0. We replaced most windows with timber framed double glazed units, making them smaller and framing the views. We also insulated all inside surface of external walls with Kingspan K17 insulated plasterboard, all of which has made the house so much more comfortable to live in and now rates at 6.3 stars.
We got rid of the wood heater which cost us $1,200 per year to run and replaced it with a Daikin US7 2.9kW split system which is sufficient to heat and cool the 70m2 living area and study.
The 34 year old kitchen has finally been replaced, including an induction cooktop, convection microwave oven and high efficiency dishwasher. Low VOC cabinetry, glues, paints and other finishes have been used to minimise off-gassing of harmful chemicals. Bathrooms were updated with the bath to be used as a rain garden and highly efficient tapware and showerheads saving over 70,000 litres of water each year.
All lighting has been upgraded to LED, inside and out.
We already had solar hot water and intend to add a 4.5kW solar PV with battery storage in a year or so, as soon as the carport goes up. We intend to replace one car with an electric vehicle within the next couple of years.
We have a rainwater tank that holds 3,500 litres and this water is used on the garden. We plan to add another 2,500 litre tank when the carport is finished. The garden is planted mainly with indigenous plants and a huge vegetable patch that is managed without chemicals. We have two compost bins and a worm farm dedicated to recycling dog poo. The worm tea is used on areas away from the veggie patch!
We thought it would be impossible to make our home as efficient and comfortable as it is without bulldozing it and starting from scratch. But with a little bit of research we were able to find solutions for our house that meant keeping and re-using or giving away a lot of the old features and minimising the use of new materials. We are so happy with the renovation and plan to stay here for a long time.