Energy Saving Block Veneer

Award Winner

Set in the prestigious Arlington Park Estate in Wangaratta, this new home fits very well into this much sought after location, close to golf courses, schools, services and uninterrupted views of the Warby Ranges.

And while its facade complements the Estate and the high standards of quality it strives for, this house is about more than just a fitting street view. There is a level of functionality and thermal efficiency not usually found in new homes in contemporary estates.

Thermal efficiency and sustainable building techniques have been underlying priorities in a design brief that was tailored to suit our clients lifestyle and future needs. Custom designed by Tracey Toohey of Tracey Toohey Design, Wangaratta, this home has been designed to achieve some very specific outcomes for our client. At the same time the aesthetic appeal of the house, both internally and externally, has not been sacrificed.

  • Solar passive design using northern aspect for best effect.
  • Waffle pod concrete slab with higher insulating value and lower concrete use.
  • Ceramic tiles in north facing living areas for thermal mass properties.
  • Northern pergola with shade battens for passive shading of glass in Summer. Battens have been angled for optimum solar gain in Winter.
  • Cross flow ventilation – windows and doors on north and south faces allow cross-flow ventilation for cooling.
  • 5.9 Star thermal performance rating – Nominally an energy consumption of 205.8 MJ/m2, 20% better than the minimum 5 Star requirement.
  • Textured concrete blocks with lower embodied energy than fired bricks.
  • Selective use of Double glazing for cost effective thermal performance.
  • Clerestory windows, electrically operated, for superior light and ventilation.
  • Aluminium Bi-fold doors that can divide the house into zones for ease of air conditioning and functionality.
  • Gas boosted Solar Hot Water Service – Evacuated tube type for peak efficiency.
  • “Sun Lizard” climate control system – roof-mounted devices that vent heat from buildings in summertime and delivers solar-heated air to the inside of the building in winter, effectively reducing the need for fossil fuel driven air conditioning.
  • Ceiling fans – provision of ceiling fans to every living area and every bedroom. Clerestory windows, electrically operated, for superior light and ventilation.
  • Lighting – selection of lighting to maximise efficiency and reduce electricity use. (Total 960 watts of light compared with almost 3000 if incandescent lights were used).
  • External fernery with Southern aspect to complement “Sun Lizard” functionality.
  • On site rain water storage of 20,000 litres – plumbed directly to the house toilets.
  • Caroma Profile 5 toilet suite with Integrated Hand Basin – WELS rated 5 star for water usage, incorporating a unique integrated dual-flush push button and spout combination designed to lower total bathroom water usage.
  • Extensive use of plantation grown timber including external pergola timbers.

Energy Saving Block Veneer
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“If nothing else, living in 10 different houses over 50 years lets you now what you do not want in a home. Excepting our present home all the others, but one, were bought already built. One was a volume built product which took us to the edge of energy efficiency, but was still not exactly our design. It is interesting to note that that firm now concentrates on individual designs

The current house was built almost four years ago after a year or so in the design phase. Our initial input in to the design was a few squares on a piece of paper and lots of comments. Tracey Toohey of Tracey Toohey Design and Drafting used this starting point to create and modify our plans and elevations. Finally, in this phase, we were able to visualise the end product on the block and in the planned garden.

Ovens and King Builders took on the task of converting these two dimensional images into a three dimensional structure of our ideas. A common vision of the outcome was established between the designer, builder and ourselves. Principles of solar access, thermal mass, double glazing, zoning, orientation, siting and cross flow ventilation became evident and recognised in all parts of the house.
Some ideas were more complex in implementation than others and involved design, engineering, fabrication and installation and then got completely covered with plaster. We were delighted by the fact that the builder always worked to implement our wishes including the more unusual ones.

The presence of a foreman ensured that contractors knew and appreciated what was being sought and their work was able to be done efficiently and according to plan. During the building process rubbish was sorted and disposed of appropriately so that there was no spread of light materials by the wind over the whole estate as has happened on other sites. The presence of a foreman meant that any question raised by a contractor could either be answered immediately or we would be asked on our next visit to the site.

Now, almost four years after taking occupancy we have had probably two or three hundred people including students look through the place at sustainability features. One of the questions often asked is 'What would you do differently if you were to do it all again?' Apart for utilising any new technology the answer is 'Nothing'. When designer, owner and builder all work together and discuss ideas and uses and accept a few compromises the result can be more than satisfactory to everyone.

Conan Doyles' 'Sherlock Holmes' in 'The Beryl Coronet' is attributed as saying 'when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth'. In building one could say 'when you have excluded the impossible process, whatever remains, however difficult must be the way to go'. Some things were difficult, but they were done.

In our case the end result does what we wanted and allows us to do what we wanted. It is uniquely ours and as we say to many visitors it suits us admirably, but it will not suit all others. Can you put a price or value on a result which is the product of ideas, shared and refined and workmanship with definite aims? Let us leave valuing to the cold and impersonal council rating process.”

J & R, Wangaratta

Contact Ovens & King Builders for more information about this project


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