Home owners from Queanbeyan to Crace will be throwing open their doors this Sunday, all in the name of sustainable design.
Sustainable House Day is an annual event held in September, run by non-for-profit Renew, where home owners and architects open their doors to the public to showcase the latest in sustainable design.
This year, 12 homes in the Canberra region will be participating.
Travis and Sophie Power are just such home owners and will be graciously allowing the public to take a peek inside their Waramanga house.
The three-bedroom house was built on a former Mr Fluffy block that the couple bought in the first round of the auctions for the remediated blocks in 2016.
“We had been thinking for a few years about maybe doing a knockdown-rebuild, something like that and we were looking in the local area but couldn’t really find anything,” Sophie says.
“We were just going for a walk in the neighbourhood one day when we saw this block was up for sale and that started our mind ticking.
“We went to the auction with an idea of buying it and were a bit shocked when it went our way and we ended up at the end of the night with a block of land that we needed to build on.”
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What resulted over the next two years was the Waramanga Rammed Earth House. It was designed by Architecture Republic and built by 360 Building Solutions.
“Choosing architects was a really important part for us, to find someone who was two things – one was interested in sustainable buildings and secondly would be happy to work with our plans,” Travis says.
“We chose Architecture Republic mainly because they had worked with rammed earth before which was the building material we were quite keen to use.”
Both Travis and Sophie have a background in environmental science. They had completed a renovation on their old home to make it more energy-efficient and they describe building their own home as the next logical step.
“We were always interested in alternative building materials,” Travis says.
“We spent a lot of time researching and really landed on rammed earth reasonably solidly early on in the design process so much of the design revolved around rammed earth and how we wanted to use it in the house.
“Rammed earth is a really nice middle ground because it brings a great thermal mass to the house but also gives a really beautiful look and feel to the house as well.”
The house is all-electric and they generate their energy from solar panels. To minimise usage they try to use their appliances throughout the day, for example they have their dishwasher on a timer.
Any additional energy is stored in a battery for usage throughout the night.
Sophie says their recent winter electricity bill put them $123 in credit.
The couple are very enthusiastic about opening their doors, particularly, to spread the word about sustainable design.
“A lot of what we did when we were designing this house was go and see other sustainable houses all around Canberra and the Canberra region and that’s a really important part of Sustainable House Day – it’s an opportunity to share our experiences with others,” Travis says.
“You can actually do things and they look beautiful and they can be affordable and practical.
“It’s really trying to share the experience around sustainable design and that’s super important for us.”
You can find out more information about open Canberra homes on the Sustainable House Day website.