We wanted a truly passive house with a simple modern look. It had to be comfortable everyday of the year without any air-conditioning or heating, even in the most brutal heat waves and the coldest depths of winter. Using natural or renewable materials and waste products was also very important. For us the best way to achieve all of this was building with strawbale, but we didn’t want the cottage look. Using clever design and skilled tradesmen we have the thermal, ecological, and health benefits of strawbale construction, and have a modern, beautiful home.
The house is all electric with no gas connection (and no gas bill). We have an induction cooktop, efficient dishwasher and fridge, and an old style (inefficient) storage hotwater heater that heats during the day using electricity from our house solar system. Other appliances are standard. We export many times more power than we use from our solar and haven’t had a bill yet, only credits.
We are on a relatively small block of 400 square meters and wanted to have as much garden as possible so have only installed two 5000L rainwater tanks. These are plumbed directly to the house and require about a 10 to 15mm rainfall event to fill. The tank water will provide all of our water needs for a large portion of the year, but we will be on mains water in dry periods. We also have a greywater system (not yet connected) which will provide most of the garden’s water needs when we shower.
Some of the house features are-
- Uncompromising solar passive design
- Clerestory windows (excellent for passive cooling)
- Coloured exposed concrete floor
- Strawbale external walls (internal stud walls with gyproc)
- Clay internal wall render on bales, lime external render
- Cob filled internal thermal mass central wall with clay render
- Wooden double glazed windows
- Wood and granite bench tops
- Mezzanine storage area in garage
- 6.6KW solar system
- 10,000L of rainwater tanks plumbed to whole of house
- Outdoor hot shower under the gumtree
The house is still a work in progress and the garden hasn’t been planted yet. Hopefully in a year or two the grape vines will cover the pergola giving us summer shade on our northern windows. We would love to show you around our house and talk through any questions you have. Living in a solar passive house is such a pleasure and easily achievable if you are building or renovating. We coasted through the January summer heatwaves in comfort, even the 47c day. Now it’s winter and we are relaxing in a warm home, with no heating required. You can too if you plan your build well.
Designed by SUHO Studio and built by Keystone Carpentry
Photography by Sweet Lime
This house achieved a NatHERS rating of 9 stars using NatHERS accredited software (FirstRate5). Find out how the star ratings work on the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) website.