Let’s wrap up the series with Sven Maxa from Maxa Design who advises us on hidden costs of using recycled and reclaimed materials.
Sven says “It seems like a great idea – which it is – to use reclaimed and recycled materials in a project, but homeowners need to be aware that using these materials can increase labour costs.” Laying recycled bricks takes more time and mortar; reclaiming floorboards is a painstaking process of removal plank by plank, then removing nails and preparing the boards for relaying.
If you’re an owner builder, says Sven, you can source, clean and stack recycled materials for your projects – and save on labour costs that way. Or a good half measure, he suggests, is to purchase reclaimed or recycled materials ready for use. “There’s not a huge supply, but they’re ready to go,” he says.
Sven also recommends homeowners make sure they look into minimum allowable house sizes when moving into estates or borrowing from banks. “Sometimes you can’t build a house less than a certain size (large!) in an estate and a bank won’t loan you money for a new build unless it meets the banks expectations on size and cost.”
He also recommends homeowners and their designers make proper allowances for sustainable technology from the earliest stages of design. “There’s no use deciding on a 10kW solar panel system if you haven’t allocated the roof area or right roof aspect in the design,” he says. Just as there’s no use wanting a blackwater waste treatment system if you haven’t given due consideration to access on the site. “It’s important when you’re meeting prospective designers for the first time that you’re asking these questions, and looking for their experience in these areas,” says Sven.
He also suggests homeowners look to the future when planning their build or renovation. “We advocate for a fabric-first approach. Forget the interior finishes to a degree and invest in a great quality build with the best windows you can afford. You can renovate a home over time but, realistically, you are never going to redo that fabric. Build it once with really good integrity and you’ve got great bones to build on into the future.”