Featuring an effective passive solar design, salvaged and recycled materials, and an innovative whole-block water harvesting system, this little owner-built home provides a comfortable base for a young Canberra family.  The design was kept simple so that homeowner Luke, a carpenter, could build it by himself in his spare time and most of the joinery is recycled hardwood left over from his other projects. Other materials were salvaged, for environmental and money-saving reasons. It does come with a time cost, but Luke loves the process of recycling things, and says he gets great satisfaction from reusing materials. “The feeling you get at the end of the day is just so worth it.”

The two-storey house has three bedrooms and a studio, plus a split-level kitchen, dining and living area. It’s aligned so that all main rooms have a north window, and a big deck provides a good connection to the garden. Double glazing, good cross ventilation, a concrete slab for thermal mass, a heat pump for hot water and 3 kW of solar PV all assist with the all-electric house’s thermal performance and energy efficiency.

Shelley and Luke’s “big splurge” on their house was the installation of a whole-block water harvesting system, The system extends the watering period after rain by getting the water straight underground and storing it in the zone where plants can use it; the block’s stormwater outflow is also greatly reduced.

Read more about the Blue House in Sanctuary 40. Article written by Anna Cumming and photographs by Kasey Funnell