Cowshed HouseIndustrial Exterior, Sydney
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Considering building an eco home? Find an architect near you and talk through your ideas
3. The flood-preventing roofThis converted cowshed in Sydney’s Glebe sits under a big jacaranda tree whose leaves and blooms blocked the valley gutters and flooded the existing house when it rained. To solve this, the design team pulled a long, steep roof plane over the second storey bedroom and tucked it down at the rear of the site. This move was designed to prevent organic matter from accumulating and to give the building the distinctive profile you see here. It’s as aesthetically pleasing as it is practical – hence the commendation award in 2013 from COLORBOND® steel for its innovative use of steel in architecture. “The old cowshed in Glebe provided a rare opportunity to preserve some of the character and charm of this eclectic neighbourhood,” says Shaun Carter, principal architect at Carterwilliamson.
2. Matching existing is harder than you thinkFor a lot of renovation and extension projects, the idea of matching the existing style can seem like the most logical and easiest approach. However, in reality, and depending on the style and age of the home, matching the existing house can often be difficult, expensive and underwhelming. Generally speaking, the more detailed the existing house, the trickier it is to match and, in my opinion, unless you are able to match the detail of the existing house with a high degree of detail and with little sign of where the old and the new connect, the result is often a half-baked near miss that looks neither ‘in character’ or new and crisp.
If the builder hasn’t got a supplier’s quote for windows, you need to be very careful with how the windows have been allowed for. If, for example, they have been included as a Provisional Sum, you need to understand that the builder has only made an allowance, or a ‘guesstimate’, of the window cost, which may or may not be accurate. Either way, like all Provisional Sum allowances, you will be paying any additional costs in the difference between the allowance made and the final cost of the windows. So even for small projects, it is preferable that builders source an accurate quote from at least one window supplier.
Find the right orientationSteel cladding sheets are rolled into profiles – ribs that run the length of the sheet. These ribs strengthen the sheet, with deep ribs providing improved durability. Because the ribs are such a prominent part of the cladding system thought must go into their orientation.Installation of cladding with the ribs running horizontally creates a nicely grounded appearance. When viewing the structure the eye tends to runs along the ribs, accentuating the length of the building. Running the ribs horizontally also helps to visually tie the building in with the horizontal lie of the land. Horizontal ribs also create little shelves for dust to collect on. Even the traditional curvy Custom Orb profile will accumulate lines of dust when installed horizontally. This dust looks untidy, and blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the cladding. The paint finish will eventually fade at a different rate to the rest of the panel, leaving undesirable banding in the gloss level of the paint. If installing cladding horizontally for a preferred aesthetic outcome, you should be prepared to periodically hose it down to get rid of dust build up.Vertical installation will prevent dust build up, but it usually has the effect of accentuating the height of the building and disassociating the building with the horizontal ground plane. When considering orientation, some consideration should be given to the openings in the wall. As sheets are rolled to order, and are almost unlimited in their length, having to stop and start the sheet due to openings can eliminate one of the major advantages of steel cladding. An orientation that lends itself to more unbroken lengths of cladding may be desirable.In the end there is no set orientation to install steel cladding by. There is nothing stopping you from installing it in a diagonal orientation, but beware of the complexity of cutting around openings.
9. Play it smart with window materialsTo keep a house warm in winter and cool in summer, insulation plays an important role. Opt for double or even triple glazing in colder climates and if budget allows. The material used is crucial, too – timber has superior thermal properties to aluminium. It will keep heat in and out when needed. Opt for the best you can afford when it comes to windows – the money you spend will be saved in the long term on energy, especially as these costs rise. (Check the bushfire rating of your area to see if timber windows are allowed.)See more of this cowshed conversion