In the last blog we talked about the trend towards smaller and more sustainable dwellings. Government planning policies are always pushing for higher density and more affordable housing so ‘small’ and ‘sustainable’ are good words to remember when you’re deciding what to do with your next home building project or renovation. However, on top of that, the Australian Institute of Architects has identified that a healthy living environment is high on the list of ‘must haves’ for new home owners and renovators. Natural light, fresh air and noise control are the most important considerations.
Natural light affects mood through its connection with our human body clock. But, whether or not you are into bio rhythms, it is also an important consideration for your pocket as the cost of electricity skyrockets! The building’s orientation, light wells, skylights and window placement make a big difference to the amount of natural light you can have and should be a consideration from the very beginning of your planning phase.
Open plan living with less walls and multipurpose rooms (like kitchen/dining or playroom or study/guest bedroom) help to provide a light and airy living environment – and, from the point of view of ‘small is beautiful’ it also makes the most of the available space. By the way, did you know that, if the average household made an effort to get rid of clutter, it would gain space equivalent to another bedroom or study? So there’s a way to make an instant difference to your living space at no cost! Except perhaps bribing the kids to clear up.
A breath of fresh air
For city dwellers particularly, access to fresh air is high on the list of their priorities when it comes to their home environment. The chances are office workers will spend most of their day in air-conditioning. Air-con sets up a love/hate relationship! It’s practical (and essential in most high-rise blocks where you can’t open windows) but many people question it from a health perspective. Seeking other alternatives at home has led to a return of traditional windows and louvres that allow the occupants to control the air quality and temperature without relying on fans or air conditioning. We’re back to the rising cost of electricity again but it is a real issue for many households.
Renovators and new home builders are also integrating ‘indoors’ with ‘outdoors’ through the use of folding glass doors and decks to give themselves more room, more light and better airflow. Depending on your particular circumstances there are probably a number of options to consider so talk to your architect.
Keep it quiet please
Living at close quarters to your neighbours – however friendly you may be – can impact on your privacy and noise levels. And, if you happen to live in the inner city, traffic noise is probably another consideration 24/7. Rather than accepting noise as part of city living, there is a growing trend amongst home builders and renovators to incorporate double glazing or high performance acoustic rated glass and sound proofing into their plans.
Double glazing is traditionally associated with heat retention in cold countries. But it has other benefits that make it a serious consideration for Aussies too. On hot days it helps to keep the heat out of the house. It offers better security against intruders. And it greatly reduces noise levels from outside. These days, double glazing and high performance heat reflecting glass are available for all sorts of different windows but to get the full benefits from glazing, it must be a part of the total insulation and noise reduction plan for your home – so, once again, talk with your architect.
One of the major misconceptions is that a small home appears mean and cramped. That simply isn’t the case if the planning is tackled correctly from the very beginning. A well designed small house offer space and light plus a peaceful, low maintenance environment. Above all, it offers a more sustainable and cost efficient alternative to the occupants for years to come.
If you’ve got any questions or a topic you’d like us to explore in future blogs just let us know. You can email us here