Jan - August 2012

Jan - June 2011

Oct - Dec 2010

April - Sept 2010

Jan - Mar 2010

December 2009

June - Nov 2009

March - May 2009

Febuary 2009

January 2009

Nov-Dec 08

October 08

September 08

August 08

July 08

June 08

April - May 08

Feb - Mar 08

Dec 07 - Jan 08

Oct - Nov 07

Aug - Sept 07

May - July 07

Special Tricks








Putting our dreams into action

Welcome to our website

This site has been created to allow other people to see the progress of the energy smart house we've built in Eltham. We wanted to share our experience, as novice builders, with our friends and other people who are interested in the project. After we bought this most beautiful and bushy block in 2006 we worked hard at our research to find the best way to build an energy smart house. We wanted to maximise thermal efficiency and to build independently. Some choices we've made are:

  • 250mm polystyrene blocks that are rendered to look like mudbrick and have an 'R' value of 3.2
  • huge amounts of insulation - polyester batts and concertina reflective foil - in the roof;
  • a concrete slab with tiles for passive solar;
  • double glazed windows and glass doors from Miglas which fit perfectly and don't let any draughts in;
  • solar panels on our colorbond roof;
  • energy efficient appliances;
  • minimal heating and no cooling except for fans;
  • sustainably sourced or recycled timber where possible in the house and the garden;
  • 43,000 litres of water storage with whole-of-house sediment and charcoal filters that make us independent for water;
  • a garden with mostly native species, gravel paths and driveway to allow the earth and our many trees to share the rain, with locally sourced rocks to shape the slopes into natural outcrops;
  • small orchard and herb patch;
  • large vegie gardens and compost bin, plus a worm farm and weed tea system that allows us to recycle all our clippings and weeds.

    We wanted to do more: to pipe our sewerage and black water into a Biolytic unit that would recycle the water for the garden (the council thought this was a public health hazard); and to include a solar hot water system. But resources such as cash, time and energy are finite and so the process goes on. If you'd like to wander through the site and see the joys and difficulties of our particular version of owner building then we'd love you to engage in and enjoy what is a continuing process. Here's a photo of the block before we began building when it was an unofficial road between Bridge St & John St:

    Now here are a couple of photos of the house in early 2010 when it was finished and we'd moved in and begun serious work on the garden. You can see the rendered polystyrene walls, the jarrah timber in the deck and the huge windows along the north side which let in the sun and warm the house. You can't see the curved walls between the living spaces and our bedroom/bathroom or along the high west side of the house. The time in between the photo above and the almost finished house has been a journey, one of joy and frustration, but one that's been immensely creative and educational. These photos show the east side of our L shaped house (bedroom) then the front of the house (living room) which faces north to Bridge St. Plus the beginnings of our garden.