CELEBRATING AT THE MORNINGTON BEACH HOUSE

Our clients Craig and Robyn, the owners of the Mornington Beach-houses, celebrated their win at the 2018 HIA National Awards, for the "Australian Townhouse / Villa Development of the Year", by inviting us and the builders for some celebratory drinks and a sing-along in their beautiful new home, making use of the fireplace during a cold and wintry evening.

Visit the project page here for more info.

Award Winning Mornington Beach House

 Congratulations to Craig & Carolyne McPhan from Individual Builders and Craig & Robyn the proud owners of the Mornington Beach-houses. 

Congratulations to Craig & Carolyne McPhan from Individual Builders and Craig & Robyn the proud owners of the Mornington Beach-houses. 

Our Mornington Beach-houses project has just won an award at the 2018 HIA National Awards in Singapore for "Australian Townhouse / Villa Development of the Year" thanks to Craig McPhan and the team at Individual Builders. It was the only Victorian project to win an award this year.

This project on the Mornington foreshore consists of two double storey houses on a lot facing Mills Beach and bordering the mouth of Tanti Creek, capturing endless views over Port Phillip Bay with Bush vistas behind. Visit the project page here for more info.

Extension by the canal

This week we feature one of our upcoming extension projects situated next to Elster Creek in the inner suburb of Elwood, Melbourne. 

The project upgrades the existing dwelling with new kitchen, living room, bathroom and laundry facilities all integrated into a small addition toward the rear. The living areas are surrounded by double glazing and the Habitech Wall Panel System, ensuring high thermal performance year-round. 

Photos below from our recent site visit show the extension at lock-up stage with a dark grey coat of Dulux paint. 

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NEW STAFF MEMBERS!

Here at Habitech Systems we've been busy growing recently, which means new staff members. We would like to welcome Nooshin Roohani and Emiko Phillips to the Habitech family.

Nooshin is appointed as a Senior Architectural Documentor here at Habitech. She comes to us with a great deal of architectural experience and a Masters in Architecture. Nooshin has a strong passion in sustainable and modular design with a fine creative eye for designing environmentally friendly spaces.

Emiko is appointed as our Office Administrator, she comes from a environmental science background with a strong interest in sustainability and conservation. Emiko is a passionate environmentalist devoting her spare time volunteering for not-for-profit organisations and bush regeneration groups.

Check out all our new and current staff members on our 'About Us' page here.

Energy productivity - the shelter value proposition

Energy efficiency is one thing, but have you ever thought about the idea of energy productivity? Essentially we are looking at the value delivered from every unit of energy used. 2xEP, an initiative from The Australian Alliance for Energy Productivity (A2EP) is a voluntary and aspirational target for our economy. This stretch target challenges our current products and services, business models and attitudes in order to facilitate a shift towards essentially getting more value out of our energy. 

At Habitech, we have been privileged enough to feature as a case study in A2EP's latest report categorising us as an 'innovative business system'. The assessment criteria for an increase in energy productivity works alongside Habitech's business goals through using high-performing sustainable materials as well as incorporating optimal structural design in our projects. 

You can view the full report on A2EP's website here

 Image from 2xEP - Innovation to Improve Energy Productivity in the Shelter Value Chain publication

Image from 2xEP - Innovation to Improve Energy Productivity in the Shelter Value Chain publication

ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN ALSO FEATURED OUR LAWES STREET PROJECT

It was great to see Architecture and Design also showcasing our Lawes Street Extension project on their website as the "Sustainable timber-clad transformation of a Victorian cottage". Architecture and Design is Australia's largest media resource for architecture, building and design so we were very happy to see our project featured on their home page.

Check out the website here.

LAWES STREET EXTENSION SHOWCASED ON THE LOCAL PROJECT

We were excited to be contacted by The Local Project this week who were interested in showcasing our Lawes Street Extension project on their website. The Local Project is a design-based platform showcasing Australia's rich design industry in architecture, interiors, product design and much more.

Check out the project page here, which includes photos taken by our photographer Nic Granleese.

SUBURBAN MINIMALIST SITE VISIT

Getting out of the office to visit a site is always exciting; and here at Habitech Systems we like to get everyone involved so they can get a good understanding of our projects and to see our wall panels doing their job. 

We visited the Suburban Minimalist house in Surrey Hills recently, the site was still under construction but the wall and roof panels were up with glazing installed, creating a fully locked-up fabric shell. Already, there is a good sense of the design and functionality around the spaces; naturally guiding you towards the light filled living spaces towards the rear of the block.

Check out the project page here for more info.

NEW SHOTS OF OUR LAWES STREET EXTENSION PROJECT

Our amazing photographer Nic Granleese visited our Lawes Street Extension project in Hawthorn and took these beautiful interior shots. Click here to visit the project page where you can check out the full set of photos, including Nic Granleese's new shots, and you can read more about the project.

Are sustainable homes worth it?

A research project undertaken by PRDNationwide and the Queensland University of Technology has found that sustainable high performance homes sell faster and for more money than their standard equivalents.

It is always great to see the benefits our sustainable homes can bring to our clients while they are living in them. When looking at the long-term benefits, it is exciting that the property market has also caught up and appreciates the effort put into sustainable real estate. 

PRDNationwide's Residential Real Estate 2018 Green Guide which has been funded through the Australian Federal Government outlines some key benefits to having a property with sustainable features, including: 

  • more savings on utility bills and less maintenance
  • reduced construction materials and emissions
  • less days to sell listed property
  • improved comfort and long-term lifestyle
  • higher median price
  • higher resale value

Read more from Jim Malo's Domain article here.

Sanctuary Magazine's Prefab Performer

We were pleased to see our famous NZ project, Andrei’s House, featured in the latest issue of Sanctuary magazine. The two-page spread, found in ‘Prefab Performers’, highlights our sustainable building components and our strong focus on thermal performance and healthy interiors. The article showcases our first NZ concept build constructed by NZ builders LiteGreen, which was made famous on Grand Designs last year.

Read the full article here:
http://www.habitechsystems.com.au/media-articles-sanctuary-autumn-2018

The Future of Energy Monitoring

We have been continuing to work with Bruce Rowse from 8020 Green on an exciting proposal to be able to offer our clients a range of energy monitoring options our future projects.   

Our plan is to install integrated electricity monitoring in each home's circuit board and be able to provide our clients with information on their energy use and any improvements that can be made in operating the house. 

We will be able to supply our clients with neat summaries of total household energy use & solar power generation, including on-site use and export grid breakdowns. If desired we will also be able to more in depth monitoring and report on the energy use of specific appliances and the storage and discharge of battery systems.

This exercise will give an accurate picture of real world energy use that can be contrasted with predictions made by NatHers energy ratings and Passive House calculations.  It will demonstrate the tangible environmental savings provided by our super-insulated airtight fabric in tonnes of emissions that have been offset. 

In an industry context of energy ratings usually being on paper rather than in houses when they are built, it will also verify the real ongoing financial benefits of choosing our energy efficient method over conventional construction.  

We expect to announce an offer on our integrated monitoring systems in the near future. 

 
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Bruce is an energy and sustainability consultant who produced excellent analysis and monitoring for our Reservoir House project - http://8020green.com/

His energy monitoring of the house shows that it is an net energy exporter of 4,156kWh per annum from a 7.6KW solar system. This equates to an average total energy use of 16.9kWh per day, which is  is approximately 57% that of an average 6 star home in Victoria.  
  
Bruce installed individual meters to monitor the annual consumption across the household in diminishing order: Light and Power 36%; Space Heating & Cooling 18%;  Kitchen 18%; Hot Water 16%; Heat Recovery Ventilation 12%.

 
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Improving energy efficiency standards makes economic sense

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) have released a report demonstrating the economic benefits of building better insulated homes. The report includes several case studies including Habitech’s Reservoir House.

The research reveals that savings of up to $150 per household would be achieved if the National Construction Code's energy standards for houses and apartments were improved. It also shows that these bill savings would outweigh the required capital investment, shoring up the financial case for change.
By contrast, because the houses we build today will be used for decades to come, delaying these energy efficiency measures locks in hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs and increases carbon emissions.
Habitech’s Managing Director Chris Barnett is part of the ASBEC Sustainable Housing Task Group which helped to commission this research. You can read the report here.

Why competitive tendering doesn’t provide value to our clients

Competitive tendering for a builder is commonplace in the architecture and design industry, but we believe it offers little value and inflates prices in the home building market we operate in.

It takes a builder weeks, on top of their current jobs, to put together a tender submission at a cost of several thousand dollars. With an uncertain outcome this is a large expense to carry. But the builder doesn’t carry it, this cost is eventually passed through to the client. Selecting the right option from a list of tender submissions is a complex task too, where comparing apples with apples is a pipedream for a process where every builder prices projects in their own way. This complexity is time-consuming and a cost which the client ultimately bears.

On top of this, competitive tender responses lack the detail that’s important for our clients to clearly understand their budget requirements. Competitive tender responses provide only high level information with large amounts often added for contingencies. By contrast our preferred approach requires detailed estimates from our builders so that accurate comparisons can be made. In this way, our clients have a much clearer understanding of what their new home will cost and can avoid budget blow outs.

And finally, builders are often engaged after about 80% of an architect’s work has been done. By this stage, decisions have been made that have cost implications, but it’s only once the builder is onboard that costs can be properly understood. In Habitech’s process, builders are typically engaged much earlier, giving our clients greater cost surety.

At Habitech we take a different approach in working with the network of builders who build our projects. We take an open book approach to pricing and working with a builder to refine details to our client’s budget. This open book pricing approach allows us to work as a team with our clients and builders to refine our designs. This ensures our projects stay within our clients’ budgets as established in our cost control process.

The Urban Extension - catching the sun

This week we bring you one of our projects currently under construction in the heart of Brunswick. The extension project utilises the junction between new and old forms allowing room for a functional yet elegant outdoor entertaining area. The design concept for this project was not to replicate the forms of the existing family home, but to work off the old home and create a modern extension working in unity with perfect proportion.

The central deck also optimises the solar orientation of the design for the new high performing extension. While working together with the sloping roof-line, sunlight is able to reach well into the new dining and kitchen areas, flooding the home with light. The design also respects the fabric of it's Brunswick, purposely avoiding overshadowing of its southern neighbour. 

With the building now in lock-up stage, things are moving fast on this Brunswick West build as we move towards fitting out the interiors. 

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Habitech & Passive House - a natural alignment

We are working on our first certified Passive House Project that will be built for the Fischer family in Canberra.

Located 608 metres above sea level, this is an excellent test of how our Habitech System will perform in a cool temperate climate zone. The particular challenges of this climate are large daily temperature shifts, high solar gain and low humidity. Clear skies give rise to cold winter nights followed by excessive sunshine during daylight hours that can cause overheating.   

We have been working with Harley Truong of H3 Space as an independent Passive House Consultant and yesterday we discussed the preliminary rating results. The standard Habitech panels and construction details are complemented by a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system as well as high quality glazing from Logikhaus.

Using the Passive House Planning Program, the design is projected to achieve a heating demand of 15.9kWh/m2 per annum.  As a first pass, the proposed design is only 0.9kWh/m2 per annum too high from complying with the passive house standard of 15kWh/m2 per annum. This is assuming a worst case air-tightness test result of 0.6 air changes per hour, when our system can achieve better performance in practice.  

 
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Concept sketch

 

The small residual heating and cooling loads will be met by all-electric systems powered by on-site solar photovoltaic generation. If this energy were to be purchased at typical grid electricity prices it would involve bills in the order of $710 per annum. Although Nathers energy ratings and Passive House methods are calculated differently, to put the result in context, this minimal level of energy use would be expected of a 9 star house.  

We are now working on some minor adjustments to ensure the completed house will comfortably meet the passive house standard. It is really exciting to see our commitment to creating super-insulated airtight homes vindicated by this independent analysis that is backed by proven building science.  

We will keep  you updated as this project and others progress.

Niall O Healaithe, Senior Designer Habitech Systems

 
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Concept sketch

 

The old cottage with a Scandi makeover

Its time to revisit one of our past projects in this week's blog. Here's a great before and after shot of our Lawes Street Extension project. After moving in, our clients have done a wonderful job with their front garden, creating a spectacular show of colour and contrast framing their newly renovated home.

Click here to head through to our Lawes Street project page. Follow the journey of this ugly duckling as it went through its transformation from an old Victorian cottage into a modern Scandi showpiece. 

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They're in!

Remember our Mullum Creek House that was on show for Open Day 2017? Our clients have now settled in and are enjoying their new super insulated and high performing home. With a courtyard, balcony and deck, this new Habitech home in the Mullum Creek subdivision blends a perfect mix of indoor and outdoor living enjoyed at any time of the day. 

From all of us at Habitech, we wish our wonderful Mullum Creek clients all the very best for the new year. More photos to come.

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Summer is here. How's our electricity grid coping?

A lot of debate has been around Australia's eastern electricity market in the past few months. It is great to see Environment Victoria going through with smart tactics to get some real science into the issue - well ahead of fossil fuel lobbyists. 

Even though our coal power stations have now become a major cause of unreliability to our energy grid, its not all bad news. With the new Tesla big battery running in South Australia, we now have a great new way of storing our renewable energy in addition to the increase of residential rooftop solar, reducing strain on the old grid.  

From failed coal power stations to new and cheaper electricity supply solutions, Environment Victoria has released a new campaign outlining '5 facts you need to know about energy this summer'. 

For more detail, read their full media backgrounder here

A partnership for sustainable and high performing housing

This week the Habitech design office welcomed our New Zealand building partners from LiteGreen Projects. With Logan and Martin in Melbourne for the next few days, it is a great time plan ahead for the many jobs in NZ that we are collaborating on. 

Following on from the success of Andrei's House, our first NZ concept build and the inspiring story featured on Grand Designs, it seems that New Zealand has embraced high performing and energy efficient housing. It's going to be a busy time ahead and an exciting step forward as we continue to supply our Australian-made wall panel system to our New Zealand partners. 

Keep following us for more news on both our Australian and New Zealand projects!