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National Sustainable House Day 2009

Sustainable Housing DisplaysVisit a Sustainable House in your area. What a great idea if you are thinking of Owner Building!

Remember that Owner Building a Kit Home can and should be sustainable… you simply need some ideas and good advice.

On National Sustainable House Day, Sunday 13th September over 170 private sustainable homes around Australia will open their doors to the public. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about sustainable living from homeowners who have been there, done that, and whose experiences are real. You can the bet there will be a few genuine Owner Builders amongst them. 

For the first time, homes will open for free this year thanks to the support of the Australian Government. It’s paving a way for people seeking to make their own homes or rental properties greener.

Home Sustainability Assessors funded through the Australian Government’s Green Loans program will also be available to discuss the range of energy efficiency actions that people can take around the home.

At UBuild Homes we are very focused on helping our Kit Home customers implement sustainable solutions when owner building their home. We can do this because Matthew Last, one of our Building Customer Managers is a Building Thermal Performance Assessor and a Home Sustainability Assessor. Matthew is also a Member of ABSA (Australian Association of Building Sustainability Assessors).

For home locations around Australia and for more detail on the features of individual homes visit Sustainable House Day.

Close Shave for a Kit Home Customer

Recently a Perth Owner Builder almost lost her deposit to a kit home company. This Owner Builder was just about to pay her deposit when by sheer luck she discovered that the kit home company was heading into liquidation… unfortunately, a common problem at present with the challenging economic climate.

Lucky Kit Home BuyerThis customer contacted UBuild Homes through the Internet and asked for some advice on how she might be able to move forward. She was a bit distraught about her dealings with the other company, but we were able to reassure her that all was not lost. UBuild showed her a process with a flexible approach, and now things are well and truly on track.

Some of the benefits that this customer received by working through UBuild Homes:

  1. As she already had her design we were able to take that design and put a kit package together to her desired specifications. Even better news – we were able to do this at a price better than the original kit home company had provided!
  2. The customer was provided with a fixed quote to supply her kit home to lock up stage. Fully detailed and specified.
  3. UBuild Homes were able to source all of the materials locally. As the customer was in Perth this made for very low freight costs. As UBuild Homes are not beholden to specific manufacturers we can shop around locally and use our national buying power to keep your costs down.
  4. We were able to organize the delivery of the kit home package of materials in stages to suit the customer’s building schedule.

Things are now going according to plan and the customer has gone from distraught to extremely happy. It’s all about figuring out what solution is the right one, and then with help from experts, putting that solution into place.

Something else you might find of interest is the subject of ‘sustainable kit homes’. It has been pointed out that many of the components to a UBuild Kit Home are “low embodied energy products” due to local sourcing of materials, minimizing freight distance and the types of product used, eg. plantation timber.

UBuild Homes is dedicated to managed sustainable construction and you’ll read a number of articles on this topic in the future.

So if you need help finding the right solution to your Kit Home challenge or want to investigate sustainable kit homes further, then give us a call or simply contact us.

Green Housing

What’s a Green House? Well, it has nothing to do with the colour you paint it!

In the old days a green house was somewhere out the back where you would grow things. Now a Green House is where you live. Whether you call it Green House Design, Energy Efficient Housing or Sustainable Housing this is an area that is wide in scope and has a significant impact on the building and construction industry.

Talking about the environment these days is now up there with religion and politics. Indeed,  if you want to start a fight then its not a bad place to start! But regardless of where you sit you have to be aware of whats happening in this space.

As a potential owner builder you now have to be up to speed on Green Housing Design and Specifications. Energy efficient housing is the future for all new homes whether they are Project Homes, Kit Homes or Custom Design Homes. This is now mandatory and being driven by the State Government Building Regulators. Every state is different and please note: The Energy Efficiency Compliance Requirements on building approvals for new homes is going to get more regulated and require more active input at the design stage to get approval.

Here is one of the many things you should consider when starting:

Creating a Green HomeThe first thing I ask a prospective customer/owner builder is: “Does your home need to be that big?” We are going to be driven by Governments towards smaller, more efficient homes so we need to get used to this concept. It is the single biggest way to reduce green house gases and costs. Big homes are expensive to build and expensive to maintain. They suck alot of energy to cool and to heat.

The cost in 1 square metre of construction for a new home is in the vicinity of $1100 to $1500 depending on where you are building. How much wasted space is there in the average home? Well usually there is quite a bit. Smart design and compromise will be the future of economical, effective and efficient design in the future.

Therefore every metre you save in design the more money you can put to good use to buy either energy efficient appliances or renewable energy systems. For example photo voltaics to produce your own Green Energy. There are a variety of products you can implement into the design stage to create passive means to heat, cool and light the home reducing the need for costly energy.

There have been Owner Builders who have created their own design not realising that it is going to cost them thousands of dollars per year in energy costs. Yes, thousands! The cost of energy is going to go up and exponentially so in the years to come. It is possible, if you start thinking about it early enough, to design a home where the future energy bill will be a fraction of today’s relative cost. That’s good for your pocket and good for the environment. This is what the Government wants you to do and so you need to get good advice from the outset.

Kit Homes can and are often designed to suit owner builders who want a quality energy efficiency outcome. But you have to tackle it early else you will get bogged down in a compliance nightmare. We’d be delighted to help you create a great outcome in energy efficient design.

Matthew Last
Building Consultant, Green Loans Assessor and Energy Efficiency Design Consultant
UBuild Homes