This is a 3 bedroom size home, the livable area is 7 meters wide and 15 meters long.

For our needs it was built as open plan with no partition walls, but partition walls could be designed into the concept, the home could be made larger by making it 18 meters or 21 meters long, could also be widened to 10 meters.

A scillion roof is the most efficient way to capture winter sun and keep out the summer sun, these roofs are also less expensive to construct, and make management of rain water easier as well, for hotter tropical climes the pitch could be increased so that the front wall is up to 6 meters high. for severe storm areas roller shutters can be fitted to the mullions (posts) along the front of the patio.

For maximum exposure to the winter sun in the north the, the land had a northern aspect, and the home was orientated with the front facing to the north. Land aspect and home orientation are very important if the home is going to be efficient.


It is built on a slab for the thermal mass needed for the home to keep warm in winter and cool in summer, steel construction was needed to make the home not only termite resistant, but termite proof (the only wood in the house is kitchen cupboard fronts, single doors and window surrounds) and fire resistant most likely fire proof to a greater degree than most modern homes.
If the slab is made 100 millimeters wider and longer than the frame and the top of the slab is above ground level, this offers good by sight inspection termite barrier. Our home had no need for termite barriers of any sort.


The cladding was also colour bonded steel, for durability and lack of the need for maintenance, all walls where lined with high 'R' rated pink batts as well as sizilation sheeting behind the outer cladding.
The wall in the picture to the right is the rear wall which faces south, we opted for hopper windows for cross flow of air, but use of windows in the rear wall is not generally recommneded.

The eastern wall is featured in this picture, the door is for access to the yet to be built composting toilet, window use on the eastern wall is generally not advisable for summer conditions, but this could easily be overcome by erecting a pagola to keep the summer morning sun from those windows. We kept these windows to a minimum, and to the northern end of the wall.

This picture shows the western wall, there should be no windows in the western wall (as we had planned on extending the cladding on this wall is of a temporary nature) this wall would serve better as a double brick or double block wall, if possible insulated with sizalation in the cavity. We opted for turbine ventilators on the roof but these could have been done away with in prefference to 2 or 3 blade louvres along the top of the front north wall.

Here is featured the front north facing wall of the home, along the bottom of the wall we ahd used besser blocks filled with cement, again for thermal mass. this is the wall for all the windows to allow the winter sun into the home, although waht we opted for worked well another option could have been to have even more glass along the front ie.,. a full row of single or double hoppers over the casement windows along the lower section. We used recycycled aluminium framed casement windows, might not ahve saved a lot of money but it saved resources.

The rear wall of the home is 3 meters high, at the front wall of the living space the wall is 4 meters high (new consideration in 2015; the front wall could be less in height say 3.5 meteres or whatever is allowable minimum for roof slope) and at the end of the roof over the patio it is 4.5 meters high. the rake of the ceiling allows for hot air to be dispelled form the home, there is now roof cavity as the ceiling lining is attached directly to the under side of the roof battons. the roof is only lined with sizalation, in hotter climates maybe use high rated pink batts as well? Over hangs front and back of 450 mm where used these could be wider if the need is there.

Tanks where our water supply but now with water becoming scarce in cities they are definately a consideration in the city, and nothing under 14,500 litres (3,200 imp/gal) is going to be of any real use. these tanks are 24,500 litre (5,400 imp/gal) tanks, and with app' 160 square meters of roof to collect rain these 3 tanks kept us with more than enough water for our managed needs and to water food gardens, this was from an average rainfall over a 5 year period of app' 800mm, with 2 high years yielding over 1,000mm of rain we could easily have filled 5 tanks and been very well off for water.

A quick conversion rate for roof size to rain collected is "1 millilitre of rainfall to 1 square meter of roof = 1 litre of captured water.


We set the tanks up so that no water exited the system before all tanks where full. If we number the tanks from number 1 on the right to number 3 on the left I can explain? Tanks #1 & 2 have downpipes feeding into them (we found one downpipe for a roof that size was not enough, so then tank #3 becomes the overflow or expansion tank, the tanks need to be on the same horizontal plain to achieve this (remember water finds its own level). The overflows from #1 flows into #2 and then into #3 on the same horizontal plain, then the final outflow from #3 was set app' 3"s higher.

the system worked extremely well indeed, the way we managed our tanks we only had the valve open on one tank that we where using at any given time, so when that level dropped to around 1/4 the capacity of the tank (we left this much in to give extra balast in case of bad wind storms, though the tanks empty weigh in at app' 400 kilograms), this also then became reserve water. We would then open the valve on one of the other tanks. So this set up meant that no water exited untill all tanks where full. This system can be set up with as many tanks as is required.


this is the view from the rear of the toilet, front shots may appear in other pictures on the site. Again we opted for the larger unit of the composting toilet, there are models that can be used at floor level (not well liked by people), but either way using a dry system composting toilet is an excellent way to conserve precious water, even in the suburbs.


(2015 amendment) Another consideration is not using turbo vents on the roof, these things can compromise the integrity of the roof in severe weather - instead us sets of 2 or 3 blade louvres high on the front wall, we see this as best option.

Garden Len