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Planning for Good Design

I have been designing energy-efficient, sustainable, and practical house plans for more than 25 years. 

floor plan

The essential aspects of good design involve the following;

  • aspect
  • solar access and passive solar
  • insulation 
  • ventilation
  • materials type for external and internal walls
  • roof sheeting type and colour 
  • window type, glazing, and tone
  • shading
  • colour and reflective coatings
  • low energy lighting
  • energy sources, onsite battery storage, and off-grid options
  • heating and cooling
  • energy efficient appliances and using onsite energy storage systems

Home design is much more than just selecting a plan that might look appealing at first glance. If it looks good on paper or on a screen, then the critical test is to see if it would suit a particular site, your site.

 It is important that a design considers the constraints of the site, and this could include;                        

  • aspect - this is the site in an urban area, peri-urban (i.e. on the edge of a town) or rural setting; in hilly terrain it is the direction in which the slope faces (e.g. south-facing, north-facing etc)
  • the shape of the land - is it regular, rectangular, irregular?                                                           
  • property dimensions -  where best can the house sit on the land?                                                          
  • slope  - flat slopes are simple, but gradients will require further decisions on the type of structure (e.g. strip footings, pole framed, cut-and-fill - each of these has different costs)                                                                                  
  • main axis of orientation to achieve the desired northern aspect (for the southern hemisphere)
  • easements on the land                                                          
  • vegetation - are there existing trees and shrubs that should be retained? 
  • neighbouring buildings - i.e. position to your boundaries, height and scale of adjoining structures
  • relationship to other proposed structures (e.g. sheds and garden) on the land 
  • prevailing wind direction
  • bushfire risk

The design should be functional - that is, it needs to be efficient in terms of use of space and movement of people. And the design should aim for simplicity by avoiding any fashionable non-functional attachments to the exterior. These "appendages" will date a building very quickly, and they are an un-necessary cost.


See House plans in the Gallery for a range of buildings and strawbale houses.

Should any of these appeal to you, make sure that the plans suit your property. 

If you have a question about any of the plans, make an enquiry on the CONTACT form. 

Your comments and feedback about the plans are welcome, and this can be done at myEO INSIDER. Select Have Your Say category.

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