The Barn 2021

This profile is written and maintained by the homeowner, architect, or builder.

House Notes – The Barn

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 days 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 (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 a Solaredge Smart Energy hot water controller that only uses spare electricity generated from our house solar system. This “tricks” the 3.6kW water heater in to being infinitely variable, so the water heats in a similar way to a battery charging, helping prevent importing power from the grid. This winter quarter it reduced the amount of power we imported from the grid by 40% compared to 2020! Other appliances are standard. We export about two times more power than we use thanks to our solar panels, have no energy bills, plus get paid about $800 per year from the power company.

Check out the Sustainable House Day Expert Session ‘Going All Electric’ on 28 September to hear more.

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 all of the house and yard. The tanks provide all of our water needs for about 6 to 9 months of the year, then we switch to mains water in long dry periods. We have a greywater system which provides 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 with smart energy hot water
  • 10,000L of rainwater tanks plumbed to whole of house
  • Outdoor hot shower under the gumtree

Our garden is coming along nicely, with a deck under our pergola next on the list. This summer the grape vines will cover the pergola giving us summer shade on our northern windows. Living in a solar passive house is such a pleasure and easily achievable if you are building or renovating. We have been through three summers and have barely used our ceiling fan. Winter is dream, with t-shirt weather inside most days. Year round the house is 20-25c no matter if outside is zero or 47 degrees. No air conditioning or heating required, and much more comfortable than either can hope to achieve.

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.

SUSTAINABILITY FEATURES

Years Open
2019
2020
2021
ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENT FEATURES
    • Energy efficiency:
    • Draught proofing
      Efficient lighting
      Efficient appliances
      Energy monitoring
      Smart home features
    • Passive heating cooling:
    • Cross ventilation
      Deciduous planting around house
      External planting
      Passive solar designed home
      Shading
      Thermal mass
    • Active heating cooling:
    • Ceiling fans
    • Water heating:
    • Water heated by PV system
    • Water harvesting and saving features:
    • Rainwater storage - Above ground
      Grey water system
      Stormwater management
      Low flow shower heads
      Drip irrigation
    • Above ground rainwater storage Type:
    • poly tanks
    • Above ground rainwater storage Size
    • 2 x 5000L
    • Energy Efficient Lighting
    • LED lights throughout
      Natural daylight
    • Window Protection:
    • Automation/controls
      Deciduous tree/vegetation
      Drapes/curtains
      Eaves
      Honeycomb blinds
      Pelmets
SUSTAINABLE & RECYCLED MATERIALS
    • Sustainable materials:
    • Clay and sand renders No skip, rubbish sorted on site and disposed of appropriately
    • Recycled and reused materials:
    • Doors
INSULATION SPECIFICATIONS
    • Insulation Type:
    • Under-roof
      Ceiling
      Internal walls
      External walls
    • Ceiling Type:
    • Bulk – glass wool
    • Ceiling Rating:
    • R4.0
    • Under Roof Insulation Type:
    • permastop foil backed blanket
    • Under Roof Insulation Rating:
    • R1.4
    • Internal Walls Insulation Type:
    • Bulk – glass wool
    • Internal Walls Insulation Rating:
    • R2.5
    • External Walls Rating:
    • R10.0
    • External Walls Type:
    • Straw (stawbale walls)
RENEWABLE ENERGY SPECIFICATIONS
    • All-Electric Home?
    • Yes
    • Renewable energy used:
    • Solar PV grid connect
    • Size of PV system:
    • 6.6kW
    • Average Daily Energy Consumption:
    • 13kWh (63% from solar, 37% from grid, plus 18.6kWh exported to grid, all averages from 2020)
COSTS AND COST SAVINGS
    • Estimate of annual savings:
    • $4000
HOUSE DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS
    • House Size
    • 147m2
    • Roof
    • Metal (Colorbond)
    • Wall Materials
    • Cob construction
      Lightweight construction (timber frame)
      Strawbale
      Timber
    • Window and Door Types
    • Awning
      Casement
      Clerestory windows
      Double glazing
      Louvre windows
      Sliding windows/doors

    • Window and Door Types
    • Lift and slide
    • Universal design accessability
    • Adaptive design
      Multi-generational
    • Universal Design Features
    • 80cm minimum door opening width
      Hobless showers
      Lever handles for doors (no knobs)
      No Corner cupboards
      Tapware to be easily accessed from outside the shower
    • Number of bedrooms
    • 2
    • Number of bathrooms
    • 2
GARDEN AND WASTE REDUCTION
    • Garden / Outdoors
    • Bee hotels/friendly
      Chickens
      Drip irrigation
      Edible garden
      Organic
      Permaculture
      Native plants
      Water wise plants
      Worm farm
    • Waste Reduction Practices:
    • Compost all food scraps
      Recycle
      Repair
      Swap with friends and neighbours
      Waste free/reduced construction site
HEALTHY HOME FEATURES
    • Healthy home features
    • Airtight house design
      Carpet free - tiles/concrete/timber flooring throughout
      Cross flow ventilation
      Indoor plants for air filtration
      Lime render/wash
      Low VOC paints/sealer/varnish
      Natural fibre furnishings
      Natural light and ventilation
      Natural oil sealer/finishes
      VOC free paints/sealer/varnish
Location
Warradale SA 5046
    • Housing Type:
    • Standalone House
    • Project Type:
    • New Build
    • Builder
    • Keystone Carpentry
    • Designer
    • SUHO Studio

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