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Hybrid house in Clunes (Vic) – your thoughts…

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    Hi Andre

    Clunes is a long way from the sea for an about to be ex sailor. (I’m ex Navy too). I like the tear drop shape but having trouble envisaging what it will look like from the ‘street view’. (I think it will look great). Would love to see that view. Assuming you will have a separate garage/shed? Will you have a composting toilet? Will you be able to capture water from your roof? cheers SB


    Dan post=347419 wrote: Can’t wait mate.. now we are in Ballarat, I’ll be able to help when I can get out there.. There is also a great Permie group that I’m sure would love to help up , with “Workshops” and the like…

    Thanks Dan- neither can I.

    Yep, well aware of the Ballarat Permaculture Guild … I peruse the FB group regularly. Envious of all those working-bees I’m missing out on, and little courses they do!

    While my aim is to build as much of it as I can, I dare say by week three (when I have a rolled ankle and pulled back muscles), I will be very grateful for a helping-hand .. or 10 … :ohmy:


    Humbug post=347422 wrote: Exciting times ahead for you Andre. You will put Clunes on the map, having it on GD :woohoo:

    It will be very cool to see it finished.. (I know, it’s not started yet ), but it’s been in the pipeline for sometime now 🙂

    Hey! Its started … in my head, about 5 years ago .. :laugh:

    I’m hoping a more ‘physical’ chapter will occur around September – early Oct. :tup:


    Silverbeet post=347424 wrote: Hi Andre

    Clunes is a long way from the sea for an about to be ex sailor. (I’m ex Navy too). I like the tear drop shape but having trouble envisaging what it will look like from the ‘street view’. (I think it will look great). Would love to see that view. Assuming you will have a separate garage/shed? Will you have a composting toilet? Will you be able to capture water from your roof? cheers SB

    G’day Silverbeet and thanks!

    Welcome to ALS :woohoo:

    I too had trouble envisaging what the place would look like .. so I made a model .. then later on modified it a bit. Here are some pics of it .. (the curved roof is the latter model)

    I’m definitely considering composting toilets, and maybe one low-water flush toilet. (The black/grey water will be used for the orchard). And yes, capturing rainwater from the various rooftops. Will also be incorporating swales and several small dams.

    With 60 acres to play with, there will several sheds, and a carport/garage to the west (shade from summer setting sun) Some of the ‘sheds’ will potentially become dormitories for Wwoofers down the track.



    Here are some recent floor plans (sketches).

    Minor changes:

    North-South width increased to allow 3rd bedroom on upper floor.

    Rammed earth columns around the exterior to provide support for surround pergola. Part of the north-side will be enclosed and used as a conservatory/greenhouse (provides extra warmth and humidity in winter). Part of the south-side will be a shade house, to provide cooler air in summer.



    Hi Andrew and welcome to ALS

    Ah well… your experiences will no doubt bring with it lots of great info.

    Not much has changed since my last posts unfortunately.

    The plans are at the draftsman’s office to be drawn up, but I’ve asked to put them on hold until my finances are in order.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the design. It’s been suggested by an interior designer that, to get the most ‘liveability’ out of the spaces, I might consider making it a tad larger in some respects.

    Apparently some of the rooms – mainly due to the curvature – could be a bit awkward to comfortably move around, especially once furniture was installed. They have little models of furniture and put in on a scale-drawing to give an idea of living space.

    Anyway … I won’t be doing any baling until next summer. Once the plans are passed through council, there will be heaps to do beforehand anyway – dams, foundations, driveway …. I have no time limitations … and hopefully will have no mortgage.


    I’m not 100% on all the costings in Victoria, but to get a Planning permit ($$) and Building permit ($$) you need to have 3 copies of drafted house plans ($$), engineering specs ($$), Land Capability assessment ($$), Soil test ($$), Septic permit ($$).

    All in all, I won’t get much change from $20k even before I put a shovel in the ground.

    Mind you, if I had a house with only straight lines, standard building materials, and no odd angles, the cost would be halved.

    The price one pays for being individualistic.

    In my ‘research’ I’ve frequently come across sites depicting houses in some states of the US that would wouldn’t be allowed in Oz, and in other countries, like Wales I think, houses that are easy to build, using adobe/mud-brick, tree branches etc .. that wouldn’t get a look-in here, yet are quaint, inexpensive and homely dwellings.

    As much of the building materials will be recycled, and doing it myself, I’d like to think it will still be less than $100k ….

    Andrew- got any pics?


    Well … finally … my sketches of the house plans are in the process of being drafted.

    I’ve got a meeting in a couple of weeks to nut out a few of the intricate details – and get feedback/advice from the drafting perspective.

    The ball has begun to roll ……. :tup: :tup: :tup: :tup:


    great news Andre


    Onya, Andre!


    How exciting!! Hey, did you ever hear back from the River Cottage casting mob?


    Hi Andre,

    Just having a quick read of some of the posts to your thread. I haven’t read them all so if I make a comment and you have covered it please excuse me.

    We have lived here, not that far from Clunes for 19 years and although we didn’t build our house and it is not as sustainable as I would like I will relate to you my thoughts about what works and what I would change.

    We have a combination of cathedral (up to 4 metres in height) and conventional ceilings. I would not have cathedral ceilings again as the hot air gets inside the house proper rather than being in the roof where it can be ‘whirlygigged’ away.

    This area is wonderful for the cool breezes which we get in the evenings so often in summer and autumn. Ensure you have lots of big windows that you can throw open to take advantage of this. I realise that you will have very thick walls and heat transference will not be such an issue, however we have a next door neighbour with a self built mud brick home and after a steady stream of hot days the house does heat up a bit. Unfortunately they do not have a lot of windows/doors to open to take full advantage of the cool breeze.

    We have pergolas on the north and west sides of the house and a very effective plant to grow is kiwi fruit which have a very big leaf and a strong growth habit and of course they are deciduous. You get lovely shade and lots of leaves for compost and of course the bonus of the fruit in winter when not a lot of fresh fruit will be available from your garden.

    Regarding planting trees on your north and west sides, the down side is leaves in gutters and water being sapped out of the garden. Although you could use fruit trees, my thoughts and practices are to keep all fruit trees (except the cherries) under two metres so in our old age we will not be on ladders or having difficulties putting nets over the trees. At two metres in height you will not benefit from any appreciable shade. And believe me, if you do not net you will not get fruit, the rosellas etc are merciless.

    I read that you plan a water feature and fernery. I have a fernery facing east and while it is lovely in spring it looks fairly ordinary now. I begrudge the water I need to give it just to try and keep it looking alive. I would not put a fernery in again the way the climate is going, but save my precious water for fruit and vegetables.

    I would go for a recycling septic system where you can use the water which is nearly drinking standard on your garden.

    Speaking of water, we can be quite dry here so keep your eye out for specials at the Ballarat vibrated concrete company (they sell plastic tanks also). We have bought a few when they come on special, you can never have enough. We also have a couple of concrete tanks so that we are more secure if we have a fire come through. Will there be any problems putting guttering on the roofline you have planned?

    The laundry rack is a great idea, I have seen them in use in a B & B we stayed in while in England. They had an AGA type stove in a utility room come laundry and the heat from this assisted in drying the clothes.

    Do a grafting course in Ballarat once you are ‘in situ’ and multi graft your apples so that you can spread the season while still having a smaller amount of plants. My husband did one about three years ago and we ate the results last year (and will again this year).

    I realise you do not want to use concrete but there are now two schools of thought regarding this because of the long life of concrete. I personally would have a concrete slab and have the slab polished.

    I have also found that straw bales which have been baled for a number of months or more can collapse slightly even if not rain affected and end up with loose strings which would not be as easy to handle or as secure to construct with. I would make sure the hay was freshly baled and use it immediately.




    Hi everyone and thanks for your latest posts.

    Bel – no word back from River Cottage. Besides, the show may have interfered with my building plans.. 😆

    julsa – lots of thoughts there.

    Hopefully I’ll get through them all:

    There are two sections where the ceiling is quite high. In one, the warmth can spread through to the upper floor. It might not show in the drawn floor plans, but there is a circular, rammed earth tower. Built up warm air can escape into that, then up to the observation floor (highest point of the house). In the tower itself, and hot air that comes in via the front door rises straightaway to escape the through the top as well. (you’ll not that ‘eye’ section in the mezzanine floor- a void to look down below, and to allow hot air to rise)

    In the other section I will have ceiling fans to help distribute the air.

    It’s unfortunate about your friends mudbrick dwelling. Perhaps they didn’t factor in the effects over prolonged days of heat? Besides, who’d know? I have lots of windows for flow-throough ventilation when desired. (Not that it is in these plans here) To the north-east Ill have a greenhouse against the wall – like an enclosed pergola. This will have warm, moist air in winter and that can enter the house. And lots of north windows for winter sun penetration. To the south, there will be a shade-house which will allow cool moist air into the house in summer.

    Hopefully I’ve designed it well enough to take the extremes off either season.

    The fernery is inside on the ground-floor of the tower when you enter, so shouldn’t get too dry.

    Shade trees in front of south and west windows will be probably be deciduous – depending on views. Not planning on many tress to the north – except the orchard which will have no effect on the house. There will be the water tanks and carport to the west side as well. (not in drawings)

    With well-designed eaves and window placement, there should be no summer sun penetration into the house, and maximum winter sun.

    Someone else also asked about the gutters.

    I hope to have the gutters only on the south (lower) side of the roof. My idea is to have large box gutters secured under the roof. They will be straight (unless I can get curved ones made up without too much expense). Just above these gutters will be slits in the roof to allow water to drain into them. Then all water goes into storage. I’ thinking the trees won’t be close enough to the house to cause much effect re leaves in the gutters.

    Waster water will be partly low-flush toilets and a composting toilet. All waste water will be (has to be) treated onsite. Not confirmed which system I’ll go with yet. I like reed beds as well. And yes, all waste water will be utilised.

    Re the concrete – I will have to bite the bullet re the foundations and laundry. Depending on soil testing, that will determine any cement input. A good balance of clay, aggregate and sand requires no cement, but whether I have any of that in my soil is another matter. I dare say I’ll have to bring in some sand as I know I have lots of clay. MY reluctance to use cement is due to the amount of embodied energy required in its manufacture. If I can reduce the amount used, then I feel I am doing my bit to reduce pollution. Mind you, having said that – one might think the amount of concrete I will HAVE to use in the foundations – the small amount in the RE walls and floor would be insignificant. Ah well.. I do what I can, but if they say you need 5% cement, it will be done. Always need to compromise.

    I went to Bendigo yesterday to speak with my draftsman and consultant.

    One of the recent developments is the loadbearing plan. While it could still be done, the planner has mentioned some issues with getting the roof on before any water effect on the bales. The examples given basically meant the owner builders in each case lost about 6 months work and had to redo ALL their baling again. So, a strong suggestion was made to making it strawbale infill. (this is a light frame to support the roof, then building the walls between) Again, I’ll compromise. This means the roof can be placed first, then there is no, or little, threat of the bales being ruined with water.

    Other than my completed PDC, I intend to do what courses I can to ensure as much gardening success as I can. I understand the Ballarat Permie Group is heavily into this 🙂



    It’s all getting most exciting Andre. :tup:

    Grand Designs is one of my favourite shows and I will so enjoy seeing your ‘grand design’ on the dreaded television. :cheer:

    AND I’m quite busting to see your first picture on here of the first ‘real’ activity when the build begins.

    Get on with it for goodness sake please, please, we have all been waiting for so long now. 🙂



    Now now Bobbee … you must be patient in these things 😉

    It’s only been just over 4 years or so since my initial post … these things DO take time … 😆

    but, come to think of it … I probably had some ideas a few years before that…

    And needless to say, with the inevitable modifications to the floor plans.. you will be kept in the loop – like it or not :lol

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