57 Shakespeare St, Mt Hawthorn
(08) 9444 4400

Photos of our home!

FAQs

Q: What is the difference between active solar and passive solar?
A: Passive solar design principles allow winter sun to enter the house, where its warmth is stored and reradiated.  In summer, the house’s design and fixtures exclude the sun, and natural ventilation is used for cooling.  Active solar includes solar hot water systems and photovoltaics; ecovents, which use the sun’s energy to switch on and ventilate the roof space, are also active solar devices.
 
Q: Can Solar Dwellings design the home to my budget?
A: We will be honest with you about what you can achieve with your budget, and help you make informed decisions during the design process to limit costs. Our "tailored home design" service is also available to enable you to get a passive solar, energy efficient home at a price you can afford.
 
Q: How much will it cost to have my home designed by Solar Dwellings?
A: Solar Dwellings offers a unique design and construction service with the aim of making energy efficient passive solar homes accessible to Western Australians. We have structured our fees to keep them as cost effective for you as possible. Upfront fees are kept to a minimum and the balance of the design cost is paid through the builders’progress payments, so you can link payments to your mortgage.
 
Q: Do energy efficient homes cost more to build?
A: An energy efficient home is generally more comfortable, easier to maintain and economical to run than a conventional home. There will be some additional upfront costs such as additional insulation, solar hot water or other selected technologies and finishes; however a well designed home does not need mechanical heating and cooling. The home owner will not therefore need to purchase an air conditioner or space heater. The real cost benefit of building an energy efficient home is in the ongoing savings of reduced running costs. The energy efficient home occupier can expect running cost savings from 35 - 90% (dependant on technologies and habits employed.)
 
Q: Do you build the homes too?
A: We submit the design for your home to selected builders for costing and you choose the builder. We use established builders in order to take advantage of their economies of scale so that you get the individually designed home you want at a price you can afford.
 
Q: What is a house energy rating?
A: Approximately 12% of greenhouse gas emissions result from activities in the residential sector. In order to minimise the greenhouse gas emissions from this sector, house energy rating systems (HERS) have been developed to rate the energy efficiency of new and existing housing and allow comparison of the heating and cooling needs of different houses. The energy required to heat and cool a house can therefore be measured by computer simulation. The Building Code of Australia requires all new homes to be built to a 6 star rating for energy efficiency, taking effect from May 2012. There are several rating sysdtems available. BERs Pro, AccuRate, FirstRate and checklists

Q: Are sketches of house plans copyright protected?
A: Yes. Material eligible for copyright protection includes drawings such as sketches and plans of houses. These are protected automatically as soon as they are drawn or recorded in some way. There is no registration procedure.
 
Q: Who owns copyright?
A: Copyright is owned by its "author". This is the person who does the drawing even if the drawing depicts another person’s ideas.
 
Q: When is permission needed from the copyright owner?
A:Permission is usually needed to build a house which reproduces the plan. Even if only part of the plan is reproduced permission will usually be needed if an important part of the original elements of the plan is reproduced. These elements need not form a large proportion of the plans.
 
Q: Will unauthorised use infringe copyright?
A:In most cases you will need permission from Solar Dwellings to build or to carry out renovations of a house based on Solar Dwellings sketches, drawings or plans. Reproduction of Solar Dwellings plans will usually infringe copyright. Reproduction of any part of a plan or drawing may also infringe copyright. Solar Dwellings can take legal action to stop further infringements and to seek compensation. Payment of a licensing fee with a declaration of exoneration of Solar Dwellings copyright will allow you to use Solar Dwellings drawings, sketches, plans, specifications, and addenda to build your home on the site for which our work has been executed. Information extracted from Australian Copyright Council information Sheet G17 For further information please visit the Australia Copyright Council website or contact them at 3/245 Chalmers Street REDFERN NSW.
 
Q: What is a house energy rating?
A: In 1996, the Australian Government attended the Kyoto conference on global warming. Australia was set a target for the year 2010 of 108% of its 1990 greenhouse gas emissions. (Australia has not endorsed this Protocol yet, but attempts to achieve these targets through the National Greenhouse Strategy). Approximately 12% of these emissions result from activities in the residential sector. In order to minimise the greenhouse gas emissions from this sector, house energy rating systems (HERS) have been developed to rate the energy efficiency of new and existing housing and allow comparison of the heating and cooling needs of different houses. The energy required to heat and cool a house can therefore now be measured by computer simulation. The Building Code of Australia requires all new homes to be built to a 6 star rating for energy efficiency, taking effect from May 2012. There are several rating systems available: the NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating System), FirstRate and checklists. The new version of NatHERS, called AccuRate, was introduced in May 2006.
 
Q: Am I required to have my house rated under the HERS Scheme?
A: Currently in Western Australia it is not compulsory to have your home?s energy performance rated, however it is anticipated that the Department of Housing and Works will make house energy rating mandatory for all homes at the time of sale from 2008. It is advantageous to have your energy efficient home rated by an accredited ABSA assessor as it is expected that your high rated, comfortable home will be more valuable than an equivalent poorly performing home. In the ACT where mandatory star rating of homes at sale has been in place since 1999, the value of homes increased for each star rating - a 5 Star home sold on average for 33% more than an equivalent 1 Star home of similar size, features and location. Every 1 star improvement in a home’s energy rating coincides with an average increase in advertised sale price of around $15,000. The ACT scheme requires that vendors notify and display at point of sale the energy standard of their new homes. The scheme also requires existing homes to have an assessment of their energy standard for disclosure at point of sale. The key value of the scheme is that disclosure at point of sale informing the buyer of the energy efficiency performance of a home, allows energy efficiency to become a purchase consideration.

Q: Do Solar Dwellings provide a service to have my home rated by an accredited ABSA assessor?
A: Solar Dwellings Team members are accredited to provide certified house energy ratings using BERS Pro assessment tools. We provide this service for our Tailored and Individual Design clients on request and for a small fee.
 
Q: Can Solar Dwellings design my home to be water efficient also?
A: Yes. Solar Dwellings is also dedicated to water efficiency and is experienced in designing homes for a variety of water efficient and recycling technologies. We are the Western Australian distributor for Biolytix blackwater recycling systems and can recommend providers of other products such as rainwater tanks and greywater systems. Please discuss your water efficiency needs with Solar Dwellings.
 
Q: Will I be able to access any government rebates?
A: There are several rebates from the state and federal governments to assist with the installation of water and energy efficient household products such as Photovoltaics cells and Solar hot water services. These rebates are constantly changing and it is important to relevant state or federal agencies to determine what rebates you are eligible for.
 
Q: What are the new government 5 Star regulations and how will they effect my building?
A: The 5 star energy efficiency standard for houses required under the Building Code of Australia came into effect in May 2007. With effect May 2012, more strict 6 star standards will be enforced in Western Australia for all new dwellings. The Star provisions relate to the thermal performance of the home, which is how well the home is naturally heated and cooled, and is the minimum standard new homes must achieve for energy efficiency. The regulation is designed to eliminate worst practice for energy efficiency in buildings and is not a best practice tool. Solar Dwellingas routinely achieve a 7 and 8 star rating on our designs without significant cost increases. This is because we focus exclusively on passive design to maximize the solar orientation of your block and house.

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