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White facade of house with sloping roofline
Grey kitchen with charcoal floor tiles

In its former life, The Cheese House was a single fronted weatherboard house which was “leaky and creaky, dark and rabbit-warren-like”. Situated on a narrow North-South block the house had been given multiple lean-to additions over the years, which resulted in the living areas being totally cut off from the backyard. The new renovation and extension were designed and built by Positive Footprints, who were approached by the owners to create a more family-friendly home which made better use of the existing space, as well as the addition of 2 new bedrooms and a second bathroom. With the block being so narrow, the only option was to extend upwards, but it needed to be handled with care due to the risk of overshadowing neighbouring houses.

Reverse brick veneer wall with recycled bricks
Recycled bricks and timber staircase

Sometimes the biggest challenged, when designing a home, can bring about the most creative and eye-catching outcomes – which is how the home’s distinctive roofline was born. The shape of the upper roof slices away from the fenceline to make sure it doesn’t overshadow the adjacent homes, and the curved shape maximises the amount of internal space – plus it provides a gorgeous focal point from the backyard. Looking like a generous wedge of cheese, the project became known affectionately as the Cheese House.

Sustainability was at the core of this clever renovation right from the beginning and resulted in the home achieving an impressive 7.9 NatHERS rating for this all electric family home. Positive Footprint were able to do this through the use of passive solar design, water collection and efficient reuse, low embodied energy construction materials, extensive sustainable materials specification and a deep north facing awning as well as deep eaves which protect the home from the harsh summer heat and glare.

Related: Sol House is a heritage home which received a high-performing upgrade

Bamboo flooring in living room
View from charcoal kitchen looking towards backyard
Open plan dining room and kitchen with timber stairs

The original home was draughty and cold and was estimated to have rated less than 1 NatHERS star, so the existing home and the new addition were given underfloor insulation as well as ample insulation in the walls and ceiling. Along with double glazed windows and honeycomb blinds, the home is toasty warm and comfortable in winter. Adding to this are the recycled bricks which have been used to create an internal reverse brick veneer wall, which also helps to maintain the indoor temperature and lowers heating and cooling costs.

The homeowners were keen to create an all electric family home because they didn’t want to invest in anything which wasn’t renewable. They now rely on a 4.7kW solar PV system, hydronic heating from an air to water pump, hot water supplied by a heat pump and their cooking is done on an induction cooktop.

They also invested in installing a green switch. With one easy flick of the button, the kitchen gets turned off with the exception of the fridge, so they can conserve any energy when they’re not at home. This is a brilliant idea – because why should you, or the environment, need to pay for your home to run when you’re not using it? We think these switches should be mandatory in all new homes, don’t you?

The team at Positive Footprints have also designed a new Carbon Zero range of homes, with the first home currently under construction. Make sure you take a look at the designs here

Exposed recycled bricks in bedroom
Landing on upper level with charcoal carpet
Childs bedroom with colourful doona cover

Sustainability specs:
– All electric family home
– Green switch turns off all power, except to the fridge
– 4.7kW solar PV system
– Hot water is supplied by a Sanden heat pump
– Hydronic heating from a Bosch Air to Water heat pump
– Energy efficient appliances, including induction cooktop
– Ceiling fans in all bedrooms and living rooms
– Reverse cycle A/C in kitchen and upstairs bedrooms
– 5000L rainwater tank provides water for the laundry, toilets and garden
– 5 star WELS tapware and a water efficient toilets
– Double glazed windows used throughout
– Highly insulated floors, walls and ceilings
– Redwater diverter value directs any cool or tepid water used when waiting for hot water to come through which is normally wasted, to the rainwater tank
– Low embodied energy building materials were selected
– Zero VOC paints by Ecolour
– E0 (minimal formaldehyde offgassing) kitchen and joinery
– FSC accredited Eveneer laminates used on joinery
– Boral Enviro Plasterboard was used

Dark grey tiled bathroom with white vanity
View of bath and shower with dark grey tiled walls and floor
Top 3 tips to use in your own home:

1. Consider whether you can renovate your existing home, rather than knocking it all down and rebuilding
2. A well-insulated home can greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs
3. Get rid of your gas connection and go all-electric with a PV solar system

Images courtesy of Positive Footprints. Photography by Simon Black
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