At Enduring Domain Architecture this is not a luxury, it’s a right.
Anyone who calls themselves an architect must be qualified and registered to do so. This involves completing a degree in architecture, a minimum of several years experience working in the field, and an examination process with the Architects Registration Board. There is also a registration process to practice as a draftsperson however less stringent. Enduring Domain principal Matthew Turner has acquired registration for both roles.
An architectural education combines technical knowledge with design theory, so that building designs will not only have an idea and meaning behind them, but they are also able to be executed within the rigid regulatory construction industry. Generally speaking an architect is trained to create buildings that operate on multiple levels and may specialize in a particular field such as environmentally sustainable design.
Engaging an architect as a stand-alone service is a great way to ensure that you are getting exactly what you want when building a custom home or other type of building. Builder-led design may be bias towards doing things in a convenient way for the builder to build, but not necessarily give you the same design freedoms as a ‘blank page’ approach when working with an architect.
Also, I assume you are looking at this page because you are interested in true low energy and sustainable design which is more of a niche than you think. This is a specialist field and a high-performance building is a result of experience and purposeful decisions right throughout the design and documentation process.
I’ll leave you with this analogy. Why go to a dentist to get your tax return done? You would go to an accountant right? The right service provider for the right job.
Generally we like to make an assessment of your project and determine what exactly will be needed from us. We can then prepare a fixed lump sum fee that may comprise of several progressive stages. There may also be occasion to carry out some short preliminary work or consultation which is normally charged at an hourly rate. We tailor all our fees to suit each particular project so that you are not paying for anything that you don’t need.
Simple. You tell us what you want. We will go through a preliminary briefing process where we will ask a series of questions about your priorities, your budget and your needs. Have you spent months compiling a digital scrapbook of photos of things you like? Share them with us to help describe what your expectations are.
Your home must fit its site and so we holistically examine views, access to sunlight and shade, vehicle entry and parking, location of services and privacy.
Once we are all clear on the direction we are headed we come up with a concept which satisfies your brief, or maybe a number of options. Each step of the design development process is presented to you so there will always be opportunity for feedback and to work collaboratively.
Yes. Enduring Domain is currently developing some pre-designed small homes which when built will present excellent value for money, high levels of year-round thermal comfort and extremely low running costs. All drawings will be available for purchase which you can then take to your builder to construct your new home.
In addition, we have also partnered with Timberset Homes to provide a range of pre-designed and prefabricated 8-star energy efficient homes constructed using a proprietary solid timber walling system to provide a naturally beautiful and healthy quality of indoor space. You can purchase these as a complete package, shipped to your site and completely assembled for you.
I’m glad you asked! The two terms are very similar and are being bandied about a lot lately but there are distinct differences. Passive solar is a building which captures winter sunlight through north facing windows which is then stored within thermal mass inside the home. The external envelope is well insulated but not airtight. During winter the building itself is being warmed up and creates a thermal lag to keep the inside temperature steady throughout the seasons. The occupants can control fresh air and ventilation by opening well placed windows.
Passive House can be designed in a very similar manner to passive solar homes with good orientation, solar control and heavy insulation all around. They key difference is that a high level of airtightness is achieved and therefore an ‘active’ ventilation system is required to continuously introduce fresh filtered air into the building while simultaneously extracting stale and moist air. Therefore the air quality in a passive house is much more controlled and generally of a higher quality.
It is important to note that both systems, if executed correctly, can produce very low energy homes with healthy indoor air quality and with minimal energy usage to maintain temperatures within the desired comfort band.
Construction systems such as strawbale lend themselves very well to passive solar design as the straw and render are vapour permeable and can naturally moderate humidity levels and mitigate condensation. Passive house homes are generally constructed with thick timber frames and use continuous membranes to control moisture and air movement. So its about using the right systems with the right materials.
At Enduring Domain we can design either type of system for you.
Ahh energy ratings in Australia using the mandated software. A contentious topic among sustainable design professionals! The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) uses software such as Firstrate to determine how many stars your proposed new house or addition will achieve. The rating is based on megajoules of energy required per square metre to keep your home within a desirable temperature comfort band. For example, in Ballarat which is one of the colder climate zones in Australia, a 6-star rated home will use 197 MJ/m², while a 9-star rated home will use only 42 MJ/m². A 10-star rated home uses practically no energy to keep it comfortably heated and cooled.
The more extreme the climate the more difficult it is to achieve a higher rating.
In order to be granted a building permit you must demonstrate a minimum of 6-star performance for your proposed home.
OK so the main issues with the rating scheme is that the software is so generalised and relatively simplistic because it must cater for a very broad range of the way that the average home is built and lived in. More complex methods for creating comfort within the home are unable to be rated, even though we know they will make a difference. Smaller homes do not necessarily rate better because stars are awarded for energy expenditure per square meter, not for absolute energy expenditure.
The star rating relates to the thermal performance on average over the course of a year. This means that in a heating climate like Ballarat, if the design is optimized to take in more sun with less window shading it will appear to reduce the heating demand for the bulk of the year, while the summer cooling requirement will actually go up. So in reality you won’t be comfortable during those summer months with the hot sun coming in, even though your star rating looked good.
In a similar manner, some rooms in the home can perform very badly and be very uncomfortable to be in, but this might be balanced out by better performing spaces in other areas of the home. This also does not equate to real world comfort at all times.
I could go on but will soon post a blog expanding more on this topic, but to summarize, we don’t solely rely on Firstrate as a design tool to optimize the apparent performance of the building, we use other methods including 17 years of experience to ensure real world thermal comfort and reduced energy consumption throughout the seasons.
Unfortunately not everything we see on Instagram which looks amazing in a photograph is actually functional. Double-glazing is not a magic bullet, in fact, even a high-quality triple glazed timber window may only have an equivalent R rating of 1.0. So if we go to the trouble of making our walls much thicker to accommodate R 5.0 insulation but then insert a large amount of glass into that external wall we are effectively bringing the average insulation value of our building envelope right down. Also, if you’ve ever sat in a restaurant or café next to the wall of glass with the stunning view, its also the coldest place to be sitting. In a room with a lot of glass you will get micro-climates occurring within the space whereby it will be warmer further away from the glass and colder adjacent to the glass.
A tall space will take more energy to heat because, drum roll….. heat rises! The heat will first rise above the space that your body occupies and will look to escape through any week points in your building envelope, before flooding the space and eventually bringing heat to the lower 2 metres of the room where you can feel comfortable.
I do like tall interesting ceilings and big windows but there must be a balance between the benefit that you will get and the heat losses that you may occur. Of course comfort isn’t solely about temperature and there are certainly less quantifiable but no less important elements of what brings you joy in a space.
We aim to design to meet your budget. We take into consideration all the other costs which may be associated in procuring your building so we have a realistic figure of what we can build with. Size will have the biggest impact on the cost of a building and so we initially try to match up your brief with the building budget and determine a floor area to stick to. Other than that your selection on materials, fixtures and fittings can vary the total build cost and so we decide where we want to prioritise the spend. Do you want the biggest building you can afford with simple joinery, or do you want the most comfortable and energy efficient building you can afford with high quality windows and doors and only the space that you really need.