Carwoola House: Ultimate payoff

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A concerted effort by dedicated clients and their committed design and build team has pushed the envelope on this super-efficient 9.8 Star house near Canberra. Ann and Ali purchased a 20-acre property at Carwoola, 25 kilometres south-east of the capital, and set about finding an architect. With a strong focus on environmentally sensitive design, Paul Barnett was the ideal person to guide Ann and Ali. “We didn’t want a house that was too big, because the bigger the house, the more you have to clean; and although we don’t have family nearby, we only needed space for one or two people to visit at a time,” Ali says. “We wanted it to be sympathetic to the environment and we worked with Paul to agree on the spatial relationships and how we wanted to use the spaces. We settled on two bedrooms and a study, and a combined living, dining and kitchen area.”

Constructed from double brick walls and topped with a Colorbond roof, the house features Passivhaus (Passive House) design, with high-rated insulation in the floors, walls and roof, which extends its performance beyond that of most sustainable homes in Australia. “The house is also fully wrapped in a building membrane to eliminate condensation, while a heat exchange ventilation system brings in filtered fresh air,” Paul explains. “In spring and autumn, you can open all the doors and windows: it only gets sealed up when it’s really cold or really hot.”

Although Ann and Ali haven’t pursued Passivhaus certification due to the cost of that process, the house achieved an impressive 9.8 Stars out of 10 using the NatHERS rating scheme. Planned upgrades to the water harvesting, collection and reuse processes will likely take that figure higher, Paul says.

Read more about this Carwoola House in Sanctuary 40.