The Centralian advocate Fri 11 May 2018
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26 REAL ESTATE FRIDAY MAY 11 2018 CAVE01Z01MA - V1 When architect Ri Walker and herpartner, Scott Webber, renovatedtheir Melbourne home four years ago, sustainability was the aim. The single-fronted Victorian terrace was transformed into a contemporary home for themselves and their two children, using best-practice thermal design. It has insulation in the walls, floors and ceilings in excess of requirements, and in the floor slab to make the most of its hydronic heating. There is 3000 litres of water storage, as well as a 2.3kW solar power system with the option to be scaled up. The windows have high performance glazing and curtains, and the home also incorporates natural materials and a sense of connection to the outdoors. They achieved all this is on the small footprint of about 170sq m. Ri and Scott put the house on the market hoping buyers will be drawn to these features, but say the approach was driven by the familys values, not for a sale. Its a comfortable, warm and beautiful house to live in, Ri says. Were now going to a house that doesnt have it, and we will do it again with the same sustainable features. We dont think it will be overcapitalised. It costs money to do, but you get the payback in health and wellbeing. Theres also significant payback on lower energy bills. Paying dividends Having sustainable features in your home is starting to pay dividends, new research shows. Experts say, however, were still missing out on information and communication about sustainability when it comes to property, and that more talk about all things green would make for better outcomes. Greener homes have even been shown to get better sales in parts of the country. Sustainable buildings were found to outperform their competitors financially, environmentally and socially in a three-year project just completed by PRD Nationwide, Queensland University of Technology and industry partners. PRD Nationwide national research manager Dr Asti Mardiasmo says preliminary research indicates good results for greener homes across the country, too. We were seeing patterns where in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, people were willing to pay more for houses with sustainability features, she says. Other benefits identified include saving on power and water bills, and improved comfort and long-term lifestyle. The buzz around sustainability is building, especially with younger people entering the housing market. Executive chairman of WBP Group Greville Pabst says sustainable features are attractive to homeowners and potential buyers. But given they can be costly, sellers might not benefit from them short-term. A lot of green energy measures are still quite cost prohibitive, still quite expensive to install or retrofit into your house, and the recapture time for that investment is still quite a number of years, he says. As more people have it installed, the prices will come down. But at the moment thats the biggest impediment; the cost of it. There are still more affordable measures homeowners can take to increase their homes sustainability and save money, such as opting for drought-tolerant gardens, he says. Sustainable design and building practices are making sense and saving dollars for a growing number of renovators, writes Hannah Scholte Architect Ri Walker and Scott Webber installed insulation, a 3000L rainwater tank and 2.3kW solar panels when they renovated their home. LIVING The green light on sustainable design Advice