Factors In Sustainable Home Design

There are many factors that come into play when it comes to sustainable home design, and this is something we are passionate about.

Creating a sustainable home is a good investment for the future and the benefits of such a decision comes through in many ways. For instance, there will be less dependence on energy services, more natural light coming through the home, lower energy bills and a minimised impact on the environment.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to lowering your carbon footprint for your home design.

Passive Design

The concept of working with what you already have (passive design) has recently had resurgence and for good reason too. From your site’s orientation, to climate based on geographic location, to the surrounding natural environment, taking stock of what you are already working with is an efficient first leap when it comes to creating your sustainable home design.


Keeping the heat in for winter and out for summer: ideal, right? Installing the right kind of insulation, ideal to your residence and situation, will help here – you’ll be saving both on resources and bills when it comes to energy use for your home. We know that good insulation is worth its weight in power bills and a reduced carbon footprint – and this in itself is a practical yet simple step for creating sustainable homes.

Sustainable materials

Anything that reduces the need for new materials is a step in the right direction. Using recycled materials is a sustainable way to build a home – whether this draws on reclaimed bricks, repurposed timber or even crushed concrete. When considering materials for sustainability, think about materials with low environmental impact – essentially something that is not depleting non-renewable resources or causing other issues.

Let there be light

The best use of light in a home takes into account aspects of passive design. Options like orientation, skylights, double-glazed windows; passive solar access and positioning of windows should be considered carefully. Having a solution that works well across all seasons should be planned for.

Think small

When designing your home in a sustainable way, think about how size and space will come into play – can this be reduced? A practical way of outputting this may be to think about the actual size of the home. Is there a powder room or extra bedroom you could cut out? A simple way to be more sustainable is to inhabit a smaller house… practically speaking, a smaller space will always be more sustainable (and cheaper) to build, heat and cool, live in and maintain.

We can advise on designing your own sustainable home, please contact us to find out more.


Outdoor Living In Winter

Indoor/outdoor spaces have been a trend for quite a while now, but just because the temperature is dropping needn’t mean that you have to stop using this part of the home.

From fire pits to café blinds to add-ons like outdoor spa baths, there’s many ways to create a year-round (or, at least, mostly year-round) outdoor space for your home. For those wintry fresh air lovers, we’ve come up with a few tips for enjoying outdoor spaces even in these cooler months.

Get the fire going

The good thing about winter is curling up in front of the fire, right? Well, what if your fire was outside? Too easy. Fire pits in the backyard aren’t a new trend but they’re an easy way to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful cool evening without all the cool that comes with that…
There’s some striking metal designs for fire pits from local artisans and welders around. For something really special, you could order your own bespoke design to suit your outdoor space perfectly.

Spa under the stars

A spa bath on your balcony needn’t be just territory of luxurious weekends away… Think wintry nights spent relaxing away in your own outdoor tub, stars above and the pleasant combination of warm water and crisp air. You can really jazz things up by considering extras like an outdoor television and/or sound system, ideal for entertaining.

Consider café blinds

No longer reserved for hospitality venues, these clever blinds come in a variety of options and bring a brilliantly simple concept to your outdoor area; seal off the elements. As well as this, there’s other benefits. The sun will warm the area in the daytime, providing the warmth of the sun without the prevailing winds. In addition to café blinds, there’s awnings and zip screens options to consider in this department too.

Warm up with rugs

Outdoor rugs have been a huge trend lately and they’re not just for summer… A quality outdoor rug will do more than just look great visually or add interest to your outdoor area, it will also add warmth to your outdoor flooring.

Get cooking

The rise of television renovation shows has helped spark our interest in outdoor kitchens and cooking en plain air is can be less of an issue when the temperature drops due to the heat from cooking. Wood fire pizza ovens are always popular while barbeques, now seemingly smarter than ever with slow cook grill options and the like, can also be enjoyed much of the year. So whether it’s firing up a barbeque or making homemade pizzas, al fresco cooking is certainly one way to get things warmer in your outdoor space.

Please get in touch to have a chat about how we can assist creating an outdoor living space you’ll enjoy using, regardless of the weather!

New House Design Geelong

The ‘Breathability’ Factor for New Homes

More than ever, new homes are now warm, and well sealed however such improvements may also bring an unwanted consequence in some cases: excessive condensation build up. When planning for a new home, the important factor of ‘breathability’ can be sometimes overlooked, ironically even possibly overtaken by solutions regarding energy efficiency.

Condensation may be a problem through both the building materials used and household use. Regular tasks like showering, cooking and drying clothes within a home produces humid air; concurrently, the building materials may also contain a lot of moisture.

Additionally, new homes are often very well insulated in the roof and walls, and can also be sealed well too. A common plight for new builds is a high level of vapour pressure from inside the home, which needs to be released.

Pitfalls To Avoid

The problem is compounded with traditional methods of building often not allowing adequate condensation for the home, with traditional wall wraps and sarking generally not allowing vapour to escape. If inadequate vapour escapes, the result will be that condensation forms on the inside of the building.

An issue of unwanted condensation should be avoided as much as possible, with the potential for unwelcome consequences down the track. For instance, condensation can produce mould and moisture build up within your home, bringing with it the health risk that can come from exposure to mould.

Structurally, this can bring decay caused by issues like timber rot, corrosion of metal structures and swelling of timber. Problems may also arise from staining of plasterboards and swelling. In addition, the moisture saturation can result in a reduction in energy efficiency for the home.

It’s important to not ignore the signs of condensation problems. What may be a minor issue with condensation now could result in major consequences down the track if solutions for letting vapour out are not properly established.

Consider Condensation Before Building

Evaluate methods and materials for construction for areas like ceilings, walls and floors to ensure proper ventilation While condensation issues will vary according to climate, it’s best to draw on building materials which suit your environment, creating an ideal solution for your residence.

Ideally, condensation should form on the outside of your building structure. When building consider options like ‘vapour permeable’ membranes to wrap your building in, allowing the building to breathe. Ventilation of roof space allowing moist air to escape can also assist.

Planning Is Key

The best solutions come from clever planning and expert advice. As a building design practice servicing the Geelong, Surfcoast and Bellarine Peninsula regions, we are here to help with professional advice when it comes to designing smart, breathable homes.

Get in touch to schedule your consultation today.

Before buying land

Ten Things To Consider Before You Buy A Block Of Land

The potential of a particular block of land is more than just soil deep – there are many factors to take into account when considering land for purchase. The key is to be well-informed and understand any pitfalls, hidden or overt, which could impinge on construction down the track.

Here are some things to think about, generally speaking, when it comes to buying a block of land. Please note, this blog is of a general nature and we strongly advise getting professional advice particular to your situation.

1. Have trees been removed lately?

As removal of trees disturbs the integrity of the foundations, it’s worth checking if any trees have been removed from the site recently. In some cases, it can take twelve months (or more) for the soil to settle, instantly slowing down any plans for construction. If trees have been on site, your costs may increase as your footings may increase in size due to possible sub soil changes over time.

2. What’s the slope like?

Is this a sloping site? If so, this could involve adding in retaining walls or cut and fill on the site ready for construction, both added expenses. A block which may bring about a great view and interesting home design might concurrently become a cause for additional cost and fuss.

3. All about easements

Finding out about easements early on is important – are there any easements on the block and, if so, where are they located? Understanding the location of any easements will dictate building constraints and permissions.

4. Impact of overlays and zones

What overlays and zones impact the site? These can impact on your dwelling design. Matters like height restrictions, view sharing, land prone to flooding, bushfire areas, heritage overlays and significant vegetation on the site.

5. Title Restrictions

Are there covenants or other restrictions on the title? If there is a covenant listed on a title it acts as a restriction as to how the land may be used or what can be built, materials used, potentially impacting on the overall design.

6. Positioning and views

There may be potential for a brilliant ocean view but such a benefit may be loaded with potential for problems stemming from overlooking and building height issues.

7. Orientation of your site

Orientation matters. Ideally, your block would have a northern orientation where the site is elongated so that the longer boundaries face north and south. This will enable good passive design, allowing the residence to maximise the benefit from cooling breezes.

8. Location and proximity

Bus stops, doctors, supermarkets, schools and even post offices: how far away are they? Are all the services for your lifestyle within reasonable driving (or walking) distance?

9. Utilities and services

Is the block in a generally undeveloped or developing area, it’s worth considering how and when services like electricity supply, natural gas, telephone lines and broadband internet will be provided. Will this be simple enough or are there signs pointing to a more involved process? For example, if there is no town water connected, the inclusion of rainwater tanks would need to be added to the cost of your build, as would a septic system should there be no sewerage connection.

10. Soil Classification

What is the soil classification of the block and how ‘reactive’ is it? For instance, it costs more to build on ‘reactive’ soils as additional measures or engineered slabs may be needed.

For peace of mind, consider our expert consultation services for your prospective buy. Please feel free to get in touch.

Extend or build a new home?

To Extend Or Build

The choice to extend your home or sell up and build from scratch is a decision influenced by many factors. Considerations like cost, convenience and even investment potential all come into play, as does your personal preference, lifestyle and plans for the future.

Whether you are intending on building or staying put, we are here to assist. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together some pros and cons for either side, which may help you make this decision.

Stay And Extend

  • Stay where you love
    Simply speaking, the main reason you might choose to extend rather than move is clear enough: you love where you live. Your family may have outgrown that particular house design but the location, convenience and perhaps emotional attachments to the home makes staying an attractive proposal.
  • Save on fees
    In some cases, the costs of ‘staying’ and factoring in an extension may be less than the costs involved in moving to build, which encompasses costs like agent fees, conveyance fees, taxes and removalist costs. If you plan to demolish the existing property and build on that land, there are new costs associated with that, eg. where will you live while this is all taking place?
  • No rent to pay
    Potentially, you could still live in your home whilst work is being completed, negating the need to pay rent elsewhere, often this is not possible, and sometimes living on a building site is not an enjoyable place to live. Consideration must be given to living costs if extending an existing dwelling.
  • Services already in place
    Essential service connections like gas, water and telephone lines are already in place, saving you money for this if you otherwise built.
  • Investment opportunities
    Maybe your site is in a prime position with ocean views others would only dream of or perhaps the value of your suburb has skyrocketed in price, making it a sought after neighbourhood. Alternatively, perhaps yours is a Heritage-listed property and an extension thereby would increase the value of your home. Either way, the investment opportunity could be greater to stay rather than leave…

Get Building

  • Fixed cost budgets
    The overall costs for a new home can be factored into a fixed price whereas renovating touches on the unknown, especially with an older home. Renovation costs may ‘blow out’.
  • A new slate
    Some people are drawn to the ‘blank canvas’ appeal of creating their home design, essentially from scratch, to suit their needs rather than trying to update a smaller – and perhaps older – home to accommodate them.
  • Less upkeep
    Like anything, new homes have less maintenance than older ones and this can save not only cost but also time and worry over maintenance.
  • A smooth process
    Extending – and its close cousin renovating – will obviously involve some level of disruption to your everyday life. Whether you choose to engage the services of a building design firm like ours or DIY, extending and renovating takes commitment.
  • Less hassle
    If the existing house is in bad shape, structurally speaking, then the cost of renovations could quite possibly be more expensive than the cost of selling up to start a new build afresh elsewhere.

Engaging our professional building design services for a new home or an extension to an existing dwelling is an exciting opportunity for us to guide you in creating that space you have always desired.

Please get in touch to discuss how we may assist you with either building or updating your home.

Is my block large enough to subdivide?

Is my site large enough to subdivide?

The appeal of subdividing a block is strong: if you have a large enough block, why not sell off some of your unused ‘backyard’ for a development? Theoretically, it’s a winning idea and sounds quite simple. The reality of making this happen is often slightly more complicated and concerns more than just sheer availability of space, with many factors coming into play.

Essentially, it’s not easy to tell whether your site is suitable for development, as every site is different and comes with its own set of benefits and constraints.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to how much space is needed to subdivide, as the particulars vary from council to council. To play it safe, however, obviously consider properties that are larger rather than smaller.

In addition to size factor, it’s important to consider many aspects like:

  • Council Approval

    Before you can subdivide, your allotment needs to conform to the local councils’ minimum lot size requirements. Town Planning requirements apply, your lot will be subject to a certain width and overall size, also the Zoning of your allotment sets certain rules you must abide by. All of this information is available on your local councils’ Town Planning Scheme. The subdivision is a separate application to the building application, all of which has to go through Town Planning. I would recommend that Council be your first contact point before you consider subdivision.

  • Easements

    Are there any easements on the property? If so, where are they located? It is important to be aware of this as placement of easements could restrict what you’re planning to build. For instance, some easements go across the middle of the site, potentially blocking where you would otherwise intend to be build.

  • Cost

    There are a number of costs involved with a subdivision. These can include but are not limited to :- Government and State Statutory levies, connection of utilities will charges fees and levies also.

  • Vegetation

    An often-overlooked issue when considering subdivision is vegetation overlays, often protecting indigenous trees. You may not be able to remove certain vegetation which could impact on your building envelope.

  • Surrounding areas

    Would your planned subdivision work in with your surrounding environs? A good question to consider is, ‘how does this work in relation to what’s already there?’ Considering all possible objections can save time and hassle down the track.

  • Position of proposed subdivision

    Would the intended subdivision be a duplex or a ‘front and rear’ battle axe development? There are varying schools of thought on which suits best for your block. At Binder Peart Design, we will work with you to advise on the options available.

  • Driveways

    Is there enough space to build a driveway? This important factor comes into play when thinking about subdivision and the specific requirements of space needed will fluctuate from council to council. Also again the issue of natural vegetation: will this affect native trees and the like?

  • Titles

    Your lot may have a restriction on the title which will not allow development to take place.

  • Sloping sites

    Sloping sites are much more difficult to subdivide, if you have a flat site, overall the benefits are greater, more useable space, cheaper to build on a flat site and not as many constraints.

  • Other factors

    The reality is that every site has different constraints and an on-site assessment will help shed light on what the possibilities might be. You could be fortunate to have no real restrictions on the site or there could be some major issues which, if identified early, give you the power of choice while you’re still in the planning process.

If you are looking at subdividing your block, please get in touch to book your free consultation.

Welcome To Binder Peart Design

We are a small team of passionate and committed building designers, located on the Bellarine Peninsula. Our experience is mainly focused in the Geelong and Surfcoast areas while also extending across country Victoria and New South Wales.

Binder Peart Design is a newly formed design studio, directors Judy Binder and Lisa Peart are both registered building practitioners. This combined with many years’ experience in building design and documentation brings a professional standard with a commitment to excellence.

Binder Peart Design provides clients with a design service to facilitate all manner of projects, from residential and multi-residential developments to small scale commercial and industrial projects. We pride ourselves in our strong core values which include transparency, reliability, quality and consistency.

With a passion for good design and respect for the environment, each of our designs responds to many factors. This approach, in turn, will foster the sustainable longevity of each project, and a more cost efficient result for the client.

Our design philosophy is simple. We listen and work collaboratively with each client, building strong relationships along the way. We find this process satisfies what is required to meet the brief and desires of the project while creating a great living experience for the residents.

Whether you are thinking of building your dream home, renovating or investing in a small commercial or industrial project, please get in touch.