Innovative Living Homes Quality Residential Builders, South Australia






Innovative Living is an experienced Quality Builder of New Homes and House Extensions based in the Adelaide Hills. Our passion is to build your Dream Home or House Renovation.

After 25 years in the building industry I have come to appreciate new and innovative building ideas and designs. It's so good to see people being creative with their building projects and thinking outside the square. I believe the most important part of a new home or extension is the client. The people who will live there. Is it really what they want, what meets their expectations and budget? To me the building process is forming a relationship with the client and working together to see their dream come true. It's an exciting industry to be in and I’m passionate about building.
I love my job.

Grey Water Re-Use

So what is grey water? Is it safe? How can we re-use it?

 

Well firstly grey water is basically all the waste water from our domestic homes but excluding the toilet and kitchen water. Here's the first problem. How do you separate them? Well this will depend upon your existing plumbing that you have. If you live in a house where the under floor plumbing is accessible, the task is simple. With a few modifications to that plumbing the waste water can be collected and sent to the treatment system. When the house is a more common concrete slab foundation the plumbing will need to be inspected by a plumber or consultant who is trained in installing grey water systems. We may be able to assist you with that information.

 

SA Regulations

Sadly SA is slow to act in the re-use of grey water. In all other states except WA treated grey water can be re-used inside the house to flush toilets and for use in the laundry and washing machines (one of the major users of water in our normal household). In SA we can only use it for irrigation purposes, which is better than nothing. One could ask the question why bother treating it before putting it on the garden? The garden is a natural environment with loads of bugs and worms which great for the process of breaking down matter and waste for of the soil and plants to use. Grey water which has passed through a treatment system is clear, odorless and hygienically safe for many applications other than human consumption.

 

Treated Grey Water

What do we mean by treated grey water? There are commercially available grey water treatment systems that can be fitted to an existing home. It is much easier to fit them when you are building a new home or a substantial home extension though. One of the systems that we like is the "Nubian Water System". You can check them out at www.nubian.com.au . There are other systems available and over time we may add them to our site as recommendations.

 

Septic Tanks

Another way of re-using your household water is to install a specially designed septic system that will treat the waste water. This is usually done when a new home is built and it will be a system that will treat all the water including the toilet and kitchen. Some of these systems that we can recommend are called 'Envirocycle', www.envirocycle.com.au , 'Ri-Treat', www.ri-industries.com.au and the 'Biolytix Water System' www.biolytix.com.au . I especially like the Biolytix system, a Queensland company that have made a septic tank that uses a natural process of worms that do the task of breaking down the nutrients in the water to be safe for reuse. Brilliant! Just like it is in nature. This system doesn't use the chemicals and power that the other systems require (although there is a small pump). They will send the system to SA and there are installers here to do the installation work

 

Well there are a few ways of re-using your waste water. If that sounds all too hard then there is always the length of black pipe that you can buy from the local hardware or bargain shop and hook it up to the washing machine and place out on the garden. Not only doe's it help the water shortage situation but you don't get such a large water bill – that's gotta' be good!

 

If you want to discuss your own grey water re-use situation please feel free to contact me on the contact page.

 

Bruce

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HIA GreenSmart Builders

Australia’s peak residential building and construction association, HIA provides leadership in the recognition of environmentally responsible residential building and land development through its GreenSmart program.

GreenSmart was established by HIA in 1999 to promote practical, affordable and durable environmental solutions for residential design and construction. The growth of the HIA GreenSmart initiative since its inception has been significant and is now widely recognised as a leading industry initiative for achieving more environmentally responsible housing and residential communities.

At Innovative Living Property Solutions, we are a recognised GreenSmart Professional Builder. We have had a passion for environmentally friendly building practices for many years and have devoted a lot of time and energy into searching out the latest products and techniques to improve the way we design and build our homes.

If you have any questions regarding the GreenSmart initiative or sustainable building techniques, please feel free to talk to myself or one of our friendly staff.

Bruce
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What's the best material for roofing?

In Australia we have 2 main roofing materials. Iron roofs (or what is commonly known as ‘Colourbond’) or tiled roofs. Tiles come in two main types being either concrete or clay tiles. Both have been used extensively in the past few years although there is a general trend towards the use of iron roofs in recent years.

To help you decide on which way to go with your roofing project we have listed some advantages and disadvantages of both materials;

Tiled Roofs – advantages;
  • Lower embodied energy (this is the energy that has been used to manufacture and transport the material from its original raw state to the finished installed product on site).
  • The embodied energy for terracotta (or clay) tiles is 271 MJ/m² and for concrete tiles 251MJ/m².
  • Appearance. Some people consider tiles to be a little more prestigious, although this view is slowly changing.
  • Can easily be removed for roof access for any trades who require to do work in the roof cavity.

Tiled Roofs – disadvantages;
  • Heavy to transport and handle
  • Can break easily
  • They require a stronger roof structure which adds to construction costs
  • They hold moisture which can reduce the first run off for rain water collection and can also tend to go moldy in wet areas
  • They tend to be hotter in summer and will hold heat for longer (‘thermal mass’).
  • Can easily be removed – a security problem for entry into the roof cavity and possibly the house.
  • Can fade after time
  • More susceptible to storm damage

Iron Roofs – advantages;
  • Lighter weight and less roof structure required to support it
  • Relatively easy to install
  • Large range of colours
  • Good for rain water collection
  • Modern look
  • Lower cost
  • Will not hold heat (thermal mass) like a tiled roof
  • Easy to upgrade/renew

Iron Roofs – disadvantages;
  • Can dent
  • High embodied energy – 330 MJ/m²
  • Can rust after time

Both types of roofs are suitable for timber or steel frame construction. In general you would find the use of tiles more common in the cooler climates.

When it comes down to it I think it is really a personal choice about appearance. What will suit the area and style of house that you are building? It does seem as though the advantages outweigh the disadvantages with the iron roof compared with that of the tiled roof. Maybe that’s the better way to go.

As for me I would choose the Colourbond roof any day.

Bruce
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6 Star Energy Rating – Is it a good thing?

On the 1st September 2010, SA will be adopting the BCA (Building Code of Australia) 6 Star Energy Rating requirements for all new homes and additions built. This will apply to all building approvals that are granted after this date –one can only imagine how many applications will be made prior to that date. This rating system is in operation in Queensland and will probably find its way to all states eventually.

What this will mean is that every house plan will have to go through a very rigorous evaluation as to the energy rating of that house. There will be computer programs similar to the ones being used now that will have the parameters of the house entered and a star rating will be given. Some of these programs are ‘NatHERS’, ‘AccuRate’, ‘BERS’ and ‘FirstRate 5’.

The process of rating is fairly complex and too hard to explain here but factors like the house size, construction materials, window size and location and the type of insulation and the list goes on. Gone are the days of simple answers like ‘what is the best type of window glass?’. It will depend on its location and application. We will have to look at planning a lot more carefully. This will be interesting for the lazy developer who picks out a house that will fit on a block of land and gives it no more thought. That just will not work any more.

What the 6 star rating is based on in simple terms is a house that is air-conditioned or heated and its ability to maintain that altered atmosphere inside the house in regards to heat loss or gain from the outside air.

Sounds good so far. Build the house right and you won’t have to use so much cooling or heating. Great! The trouble is that it only addresses the outside shell of the house and not what happens inside that house. The house itself is designed to save energy but what about the people inside. We may feel good for doing our bit for the planet and move in with all our energy inefficient Plasma TV’s, fridges, washing machines, etc. Then we stand in the shower for ages, leave the fridge door open, have the air-conditioning up too high, leave the lights on, leave the curtains open and……. well there goes the energy rating.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s about time we built houses right rather than trying to fix then later. I just think we have a long way to go before we can feel good about ‘doing our bit’ for the environment. People just need to get back to basics and change their lifestyles.

Bruce
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