Building our first solar passive home taught us the importance of gathering accurate information. The American book we used in that home was still of great value. New books are available and the Internet is an excellent resource which we didn’t have then. We attended a really useful weekend workshop on solar passive design. We even contacted an architect from England we saw on the TV show “Grand Designs” to find out about the Heat Recovery Ventilation System. We joined Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN) which has been a great source of support and information.
If you want a special home to really suit your lifestyle, you must be patient, very specific and work with others. If there are things you are not specific about, the draftsperson will make those decisions for you. Being patient in the planning will save you costly mistakes and delays. When the builder starts the building his job will be so much easier if the plans are very clear.
We had ideas from homes we had lived in before and room sizes that worked. We decided how we wanted to use each room, the storage needed, which side of the house each room should be placed to take advantage of the sun or shade, even furniture and door placements so that the house would work best for us. The design of your home is a totally personal thing, and these are all decisions you will need to make for yourself.
Finding a designer and a builder who really understands how to build a healthy, energy-efficient home was the next hurdle. A number of builders were not interested in solar passive design at all; others claimed they knew about solar passive building, but when we asked a few questions it was clear they did not understand. We worked with designers to try and get a design that achieved all the things we wanted, but each time we were disappointed. Then a year ago we were meeting with friends at the Rahamim Ecological Learning Center who are community leaders in environmental issues and asked if anyone knew a builder who really understood how to build the type of home we wanted. Everyone agreed that we should speak to Mick Fabar of Green Homes Australia.
After we had an interview with Mick, it was a relief to find a builder who knew about solar passive building. He was very interested in working with us to achieve the type of home we wanted and was interested in the solar technology we wanted to use. It is so much easier working with people who are interested in the same outcome.