We are in the process of designing our new house. theres a few things included already, solar elec, solar water, powerwall 2, water tanks, security system. what are some things to consider? what would you put in your house if you were starting from scratch?
I’d put in an underground cellar and underground concrete water tank. I'd also take the opportunity to add hardened doors and windows. I’ve also looked into composting toilets to save water but can’t make a decision until i’ve tried and tested one. I’d also design storage into my roof space. For me gas plumbing to the kitchen is a must. A wood heater as well.
I'm doing the same thing, on a 3 acre block on the far south coast of NSW.
Off grid for water, so a 110,000l tank plus a few smaller ones. The neighbour went underground concrete, but it was very expensive. Block has underground power, but we will have solar as well.
Steel frame, slab floor, insulated walls and roof, wildfire 12 person underground shelter (approx $30k), north facing house design, slow combustion fire (I have lifetime supply of free timber), gas cooktop.
I had decided on a design by Green Homes (the Bond), but as most homes in the estate sell for a million plus, I've changed my mind to something more substantial, to ensure capital gain. (Never build a cheap home in an expensive neighbourhood).
So I'm currently looking at a McDonald Jones design, the Heritage, with a few changes, like a double sided open fire. My son is a glazer, so windows will be double glazed.
Last Edit: May 24, 2020 7:17:03 GMT 10 by frostbite
As a general rule design it to reduce the use of external resources. Collect rainwater, heat with the sun and cool with the wind, use mains electricity if possible but back it up with systems to use solar, wind, hydro, generator, vehicle. Build it to last so maintenance is reduced. Handling sewage is always difficult though.
Build solid unless in an earthquake area. Brick, stone or earth.
Consider a masonry stove for thermal mass inside the house.
Let the sun shine in windows during the cooler months and have the windows shaded in the hotter months. Design and orient the house to maximise this. And insulate.
Design the house to be easy to live in. I once rented a house for a year which was layed out terribly. To get anywhere you had to go in a roundabout way. eg, having to go to a bathroom inside the house to clean up means you track dirt through the house. Put a bathroom/cleaning area near the entrance. Make sure the kitchen is near where you park your vehicle so you don't have to carry the shopping to the other end of the house. Put a door near where you park. Little things like that make a house really liveable.
Possibly diversify by having several smaller buildings. Have a main house, then a separate office or studio. A separate bedroom as a granny flat. Also a separate shed/garage. Increases redundancy and reduces losses from fire or collapse.
Wood stoves are nice but gas rules IMO. Maybe a large gas tank?
Water supply can be gravity fed. If there is higher ground nearby have the tanks up there. Or consider a tank on a high stand. This can be refilled by just a solar panel on a pump.
You might consider separate 12-24V DC wiring for lighting and other low power use services.
Use common hardware and fittings. Have the same hinges on every door, the same lock on every window, same sized windows, the same taps everywhere, etc. Reduces the upkeep logistics dramatically and you can have spares of everything handy.
Also give some thought to the oudoors areas. Windbreaks/windflow, shelter, paving, terracing are all easier to design in rather than adapt later.
We built off grid. We are about 15 minutes outside a 60,000 person town and 35 minutes from another - not ideal but we didn't have any choice work wise so did the best we could.
We have solar and wind power + batteries Septic system - we have a composting toilet in a cabin we lived in while building and it worked fine. We have a 90,000 rain water system and another 90,000 bore water and a 500,000L small dam Our house platform is just off the the crest of the main hill on the north side. House - strawbale and double glazed. Woodburner - which we love - run for about 6 months of the year - wet back and solar hotwater We have a gas stove - which we only use when not using wood stove and plenty of coppice firewood trees.
We have a 6x6m underground basement - hard to describe exactly what we have done - but one corner sticks out of the hill and this is where merges with the house. Used for mostly food and firearm storage. I love my basement. It has a hidden entrance - which it didn't need but did for fun and I just love it !!!
Outside even after 4 years are still landscaping. Security wise have done mix of standard fencing and deer fencing. All the fencing has 2-3 hot wires set to " cattle " and some normal and some barb wire. If electric fence on it would be very unpleasant getting over them - a determined visitor could though. Its no prison wall !! We also have a mix of decorative gabions and planter boxes in strategic locations.
Again it is hard to describe the shape of the house - but it is loosely an E shape and the ends of the arms of E facing north. We have built and landscaped so if need to we could close of that side of the house so it is essentially a protected courtyard. We have a small area of the house which as a second storey and this give use 360 deg view with only a couple of blind spots.
I would recommend strawbale - the walls are (in total) 65cm thick - strawbale is 45cm, outside plaster is 15cm and inside is 5cm. I built a small wall for practice with the bales and render on both side and have subsequently used it for target practice. Even close in - 12g in a mix of shot will only penetrate into the straw, .22 wont penetrate outside plaster, .223 penetrates into straw and .308 will penetrate all the way sometimes - every 4-5 shot so obviously some variables and it is clear velocity has dropped considerable - . YMMV
We have heavy ply shutters for all the main windows - convinced my wife that we needed for storms and cyclones - these are stored in the shed and also have several hundred m of extra barbed wire.
The house looks like a normal house, but have planned the extra security so it can be rolled out if needed.
the block is 700m2 flat, but not prone to flooding, in a residential zone in a small coastal town.
my budget would hopefully max out at 450k for the entire project.
double glasing, insulation, secure doors, passive heating and cooling are big on our list for design. missus wants infloor heating and a built in infrared spa. i want a double length garage for a workshop and storage.
the builder we are looking at puts a power wall 2 in his package with panels and solar hot water.
will hope to put the existing slimline tanks on the south side. replace both sides and front fencing, which will be about the existing lifespans end.
In ceiling storage would be nice, but we seem to be fine for storage without it now. a cellar would be awesome, but hard to sell to the missus when we both dont drink outside of special events.
I think landscaping will be hard to maintain our orchard/veggies. I may look for a creative way to open up space with a rooftop garden or something above our garage. may have to consider double storey to maximise land use.