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Canberra Architect

Granny Flats, Studios and Secondary Residences

By Green architecture, Green Factsheet, Modular housing & Granny flats
Are you considering building a studio? Lots of people are interested in putting a studio or a granny flat (GF) onto their property and we thought it would be helpful to run through some of the issues that need to be considered when doing this. Common reasons for a granny flat or smaller ‘secondary residence’ (ACT planning term for a granny flat) include; generating additional rental income, accommodation for ageing parents or separation from teenage children. Building a secondary residence can be thought of as a sustainable exercise, as rather than purchasing additional land, you can utilise existing infrastructure and provide housing diversity by introducing new contemporary suburban houses. Sadly, many secondary dwellings don’t eventuate due to the expense involved in complying with sometimes onerous legislation, particularly in the ACT. Secondary residences in the ACT Secondary residences in the ACT must comply with the Residential Zones Development code and the Single Dwelling Housing Development Code.There are two ways to go about putting an additional residence on your block in the ACT; either as a dual occupancy or a secondary residence. A dual occupancy must comply with the Multi Unit Housing Development Code and is only possible on blocks bigger than 800m2 in RZ1 (Residential Zone 1) A secondary residence (GF) can be built on any block larger than 500m2, may be less costly in terms of government fees and cannot be sold separately. A secondary residence must also be designed…
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Single Glazing or Double Glazing – Which is better?

By Energy Efficiency, Glazing, Green Factsheet
The question of single or double glazing to the north is an interesting one. Naturally, double glazing provides better insulation, but it also reduces the amount of solar radiation (heat) coming in to the building, so there is a trade-off. The amount of glazing in a Strine home is maximised on the north elevation, to achieve as close as possible to 100% of the north facade. This is most unusual when compared to standard housing designs. It means that there is a lot more glass in a Strine home. Maximising the glazing to the north takes full advantage of the solar heat gain in winter. The figures below indicate that single glazing is better than double glazing on the north face of a well-designed passive solar house. They explain why in Strines three decades long experience that single glazing (of course with drapes for insulation) to the north works well in the Canberra region climate and doesn’t warrant the extra expense of double glazing. In fact, we always get comments that our homes are lovely and hot in the middle of a sunny winter’s afternoon! That’s when the high thermal mass of a Strine concrete home is essential to store all that free solar heat. The Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) for Canberra winter days is very significant because of the clear skies and sunny days. Around noon Canberra gets approximately 800 watts (that’s 0.8 of a kilowatt) per square…
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If passive solar design is so good why isn’t everyone doing it?

By Green Factsheet, Green living, Passive Solar, Reduce heating & cooling costs
Here at Strine Environments, we are sometimes asked by new clients why, if passive solar design is so good, isn’t everyone doing it? To which we say good question! We believe it comes down to a few key issues, which revolve around a lack of education and misconceptions. Misconceptions A common misconception is that if a house is sustainable, then style will have to be compromised. Surely they can’t coexist because eco-friendly, green energy homes are the provenance of dyed-in-the wool greenies who are not concerned with sharp, contemporary architectural design. Right? They just want to save the planet, which is all well and good, but surely it can’t be beautiful too? Well leaving the stereotypes that surround ‘greenies’ to one side, the answer is of course no. Strine’s passive solar designed homes have been fine-tuned over many years by owner and director Ric Butt, a highly awarded architect in Australia and internationally.  Strine’s homes are about creating comfort for the owners by keeping the inside temperature close to 20º in winter and summer, but the science that goes into this is not visible to the naked eye. To achieve year-round temperature stability, we have developed our own insulated precast concrete panels that allow us to provide high performance thermal mass. If you went into a Strine home you wouldn’t be able to pick if the walls were concrete or plasterboard as you have the option to paint or leave…
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