1 Camberwell-IMG_6763-copy

Jan and Michael’s Camberwell Home during construction

Jan and Michael loved their existing single storey California bungalow home.  They met with architect Bridget Puszka, BP Architects and explained that they wanted an environmentally sustainable designed home retrofit for their existing home.  Their plans for their home project included a first floor addition.

They found that with their two girls now teenagers, and parents older, that their existing home did not provide the accommodation that they wanted.  Several neighbours in their street had two storey homes and Jan and Michael felt that if their home had an additional floor upstairs that it would provide the additional space that they needed in their home.  As well as this, the first floor addition would be in keeping with their neighbourhood streetscape.


Camberwell Home before renovations

A Brief Description

Jan and Michael’s existing house was dark and dim.  Not enough daylight was able to provide sufficient day lighting levels to the rooms.  The houses on all three sides of their home were double storey homes.  The higher east side of Jan and Michael’s home was shaded with dense vegetation of trees and plants.


Front Entry of existing Camberwell home

Their existing weatherboard home had been modified over the years and an additional room with a flat roof had subsequently been added to the back of their original home.  A carport was located at the back of the home and towards the rear of the property.

The back of Jan and Michael’s home faced north.  They had a large garden at the rear that they could access through a door from their laundry.  Their kitchen was over crowded and enclosed.  To get to the back of the home you had to walk through the kitchen to the dining room. An existing brick chimney surround and chimney stack was located on one side of their kitchen.

Their existing fire place and chimney in the living room was still operational.  Some of the ceilings in their home had decorative ceiling roses and mouldings that Jan and Michael wanted to try and keep.  There was evidence of water damage on the ceilings.


Rear of existing Camberwell Home before renovations

The ground floor was redesigned by Bridget Puszka, BP Architects, to provide easy access throughout the home. New kitchen and living areas were located on the north and warmer side of the home.  From the living areas large sliding doors provided a visual connection with their rear garden.  As a natural extension of their living rooms, a deck was located adjacent to their living rooms and provided an al fresco area for dining on warm Melbourne nights.

Their existing home was transformed into a light bright and delightful home with garden views and decorative features throughout.  Jan and Michael’s ESD retrofit meant that they could live in the home with the character of a Californian home, with all the features of a modern home, and the comfort of a passive solar designed building.

3 Camberwell-IMG_6743-copy

Rear of Camberwell Home with first floor addition, during construction

Detailed Feature Description

The modifications to Jan and Michael’s existing home were designed to enhance the architectural character of their existing house.  They wanted to retain their 1920’s weatherboard Californian Bungalow architectural character.

Second hand materials were used wherever possible.  Second hand double hung windows and bay windows were designed into the project.  These second hand windows enhanced the Californian Bungalow house character.

2 Camberwell IMG_6768 copy

Second hand bay window used for first floor addition

Strong visual connections with their back garden were established from living rooms adjacent to the roof garden and the ground floor deck. Medium to long distance vistas designed throughout the house created openness and a larger sense of space within the house.

The ground floor north deck positioned adjacent to the living rooms connected the house to their garden.  Large north facing sliding doors opened onto the deck allowing ease of access to the large garden.  A functional kitchen was designed in an open plan layout with the living areas.

A roof garden on the first floor provided a roof for the ground floor deck.  The roof garden is an extension of their first floor living areas.


5 Camberwell IMG_6819

Large north facing sliding doors from the dining room opens onto a deck


To make the most of the existing services, a laundry and new powder room was located in the previous position of the kitchen.

Jan and Michael’s home project plans included the installation of a future grey water treatment and garden feature in the form a billabong.  The reed bed treatment pond would be a garden feature in the back yard and would also assist in cooling hot northerly breezes.

The Weather Conditions

Jan and Michael’s home is located on a gentle sloping site.  The east side boundary was higher than the west side boundary.  They have double storey neighbouring homes on three sides of their property. Dense vegetation on their east boundary of their house shades and shelters the east side of the house.  The west side of their house was fully exposed to the hot summer sun.

Their existing home did not allow for the passage of breezes through their home.  In the redesign of their home the window and wall placement were carefully considered.  This allowed cross flow of breezes throughout the home, and for the breezes to flow unimpeded.  In doing so, the house quickly and effectively cools down in summer when the weather conditions changed and cooling breezes avail.

9 Camberwell IMG_6855

Second hand double hung windows used and allowed cross flow of breezes

Climate change has meant that our weather patterns are more unpredictable and we are experiencing more extreme weather events.  Melbourne’s climate is temperate and variable, with moderate rainfall generally most months. It is warm in summer, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid to high 20s.  Temperatures normally exceed 35°C on nine days a year.

Temperatures are mild in autumn and spring, with daytime temperatures averaging around 20°C.  Winters are cold with daytime temperatures on average in the low to mid-teens.

The ‘heat island’ effect is the phenomena when asphalt and concrete absorb the daytime warmth and radiate it back into the environment during the night.  This results in metropolitan locations being warmer than country locations.

Wind can come from all directions and varies from day to night and from season to season.  Cooling breezes from the sea breezes come from the south in summer.  During winter, cold air travelling down valleys from inland Victoria, bringing cold breezes from the north. In summer, the same inland breezes result in hot northerlies.

Melbourne has an average mean annual total of 639 mm rainfall on 143 days of the year. This is a general total as the mean annual total rainfall has fluctuated since recording started.  Usually rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, averaging about 55 mm per month.

Energy Efficiency

4 Camberwell IMG_7015

North facing glass doors open onto roof deck.  Awning to be installed above doors

The design of Jan and Michael’s retrofit and additions to their home were designed on good environmentally sustainable design principles. They wanted a high energy star rating and a home with no or low vocs.  The maximum use of natural lighting was utilized to all parts of the design of their home project.

Environmentally sustainable design principles utilized in their home design included the following:

  • Avoid, re-use, recycle
  • Passive solar heating and cooling
  • Optimize northern exposure
  • daylighting

This house is a weatherboard clad home with tiled roof and two brick chimneys.  The footings of the house are timber framed floors supported on stumps.  Roof tiles removed during partial demolition were retained to be reused on the first floor roof.

An airlock entry was created in the remodelling of the floor plan.  This restricted the amount of unwanted hot or cold air from entering the main living areas of the home.

6 Camberwell-1

Airlock entry during construction.  Second hand decorative hallway arch

Areas within the house were designed into separate zones.  Living areas were orientated towards the north.  Utility areas and bedrooms were located on the cooler south side of house

Flexibility was designed into the house so that internal rooms could be opened up and increased in volume during summer and closed down to reduce room area requiring warming in winter.

During winter, rooms could be closed off so that the volume requiring heating was reduced.  This included access doors to the staircase that separated the ground floor from the first floor. Localized heating was provided to the rooms requiring heating rather than a centralized heating system.

During summer, these rooms could be opened up to increase the dispersing of hot air throughout the house.  Over head fans were installed in living areas and bedrooms for both summer and winter use.

Kitchen before Renovations

brick fireplace in existing kitchen retained in new retrofit for thermal mass

The two brick chimneys were the only thermal mass in the house and were retained in the house redesign.  The living room fireplace remains operational.  The fireplace in the former kitchen was retained as thermal mass located inside the house.  This existing brick chimney was incorporated into the first floor living area also as thermal mass.

The roof terrace on the first floor shaded the western side of the house.  A new carport, positioned towards the front of the house on the west side, shaded the house from the summer sun.  The carport roof also provided for additional long term storage.

Cross ventilation was considered when positioning windows.  Rooms were designed to have an unobstructed flow of air throughout the home.

A fireplace damper was installed in their lounge room chimney.  The damper was located in the throat of their brick chimney above the firebox.  This meant that the fireplace could be sealed shut when not in use.  It stops heated air escaping up the chimney when the fireplace is not being used.

Natural day lighting was enhanced with high windows above large sliding doors and sky windows.  All new windows were double glazed low E glazing units with external Sun Shading to windows.

Renovating an existing house is a good time to upgrade the whole house.  It is relatively easy and economical to install wall insulation into a weather board home.  If you removal all the weatherboards and install a breathable building membrane you can reduce the amount of wanted air infiltration through the walls and around the window and door openings.


Both Jan and Michael wanted to keep the Californian bungalow character of their existing home.  They wanted to enhance this architectural character in their home renovation project.  Second hand recycled windows that matched their existing home were designed into their renovation and additions.

7 Camberwell IMG_6865

Second hand bay window to first floor addition

Californian bungalow style of house first became popular in Australia from 1913 onwards.  This period coincided with the rise of the Hollywood film industry, which popularized American houses.  American architectural magazines were also imported into Australia around this time.

Melbourne has a similar climate to California and the design of the Californian Bungalow was considered suitable for our relatively warm summers and mild winters.  Timber versions of the American brick bungalow house were built in and around Melbourne.


8 Camberwell-IMG_6826-copy

Sky window above first floor bathroom provides daylighting to stairs


Sustainable Home Features:

  • 1920’s weatherboard Californian bungalow retained
  • Remodelling of existing home to effectively minimize new construction
  • Designed for flexible zoning
  • Zoning of rooms to reduce heating and cooling requirements
  • Airlock entry
  • Avoid, reuse, recycled principles incorporated in the design principles
  • Recycled second hand materials used
  • Second hand fret work to entry area enhances the architectural character of the home
  • Remodel existing bathroom into new ensuite
  • Fireplace damper installed
  • Ceiling mouldings and roses restored
  • Sky view windows above bathroom to let in daylight
  • North facing roof garden / balcony
  • North facing ground level deck adjacent to living areas
  • Reuse existing carport as outdoor living area with pergola
  • Second hand bricks used as paving
  • Roof tiles removed during demolition reused
  • West facing window with sun screens
  • Ceiling fans
  • Optimize northern exposure and north orientation
  • Maximum use of natural day lighting
  • Maximum re-use and recycling of water
  • North facing roof area for future photovoltaic power supply grid connected
  • Solar hot water
  • Rainwater tank
  • Passive solar design
  • Cross ventilation
  • Secure night time exhausting of hot air
  • Brick chimney surround and chimney stack retained on the interior as thermal mass
  • Light weight weatherboard cladding
  • Breathable membrane
  • High performance double glazed windows and doors
  • Low chemical content building materials. No/low vocs
  • Minimal construction waste and reuse of site materials



Camberwell Home ESD Retrofit


A Profitable Sustainable ecoHome

6. North facade of solar court

North side of the solar court of the ecohome, Sunbury

The Sunbury ecohome was designed for a developer and his family.  The house reduced their energy consumption by two-thirds and sold for twice the construction costs.

The ecohome was designed to be a resource efficient, low allergy home for a developer and his family.  The house site was located on top of Sunbury Hill in a windy and exposed location.  5 years after construction, the ecohome was sold for a twice as much as the cost of construction.

A Brief Description

The ecohome was designed to be a passive solar home.  This included the principles of passive solar heating and solar cooling.  Utility rooms and bedrooms were zoned to the cooler south side of the house.  Living areas were located on the warmer north side of the ecohome.  Window placement considered cross ventilation and exhausting of hot air of the house.


7. Solar pergola on north side of house

North side of the ecohome showing the mezzanine office.  A solar pergola shades the solar court.  The solar chimney on the front west facing room ventilates the roof space.


The low-tech and commonsense approach to passive solar design of the ecohome made it easy for the occupants to understand exactly how the building systems worked in a passive solar home.  It is a logical approach to designing a home to suit the climate and to optimize the benefits of passive solar heating and cooling.

Detailed Feature Description

Designed for minimal energy consumption, the ecohome features a covered solar court, with openable sky windows, and a garden courtyard.

Plants in the garden courtyard allow hot northerly summer breezes to be cooled via plant transpiration before entering and cooling the ecohome.

Cross ventilation and nightime exhausting of hot air allow for passive solar cooling of the ecohome.  High windows and raked ceilings allow for the exhausting of hot air during summer.

A solar pergola, eaves and sun shading devices protect the north facing windows of the solar court from excessive heating during summer.


1. View to solar court

View towards the solar courtyard.


Passive solar heating during winter months keeps these areas of the home warm.  A tiled concrete slab provides thermal mass to absorb passive solar heating.  Air transfer ducts move warmed air between the north side of the house to the cooler south facing bedrooms.  Windows placed on the north side allows the winter sun into the house whilst shading prevent the summer sun.

As the ecohome seemed so spacious, the client had difficulty believing the small floor area.

Strategic window placement allow for long distance vistas of the surrounding rolling hills from the back of the house.  This, and the high ceilings in the living areas, provides a sense of spaciousness in a home with a small footprint.

The Weather Conditions

The ecohome is located on Sunbury Hill in a windy exposed site facing west.  It was the first house built in this green field development for solar designed housing estate.

The location is in a temperate dry climate zone, with cooling summer breezes from the south and blustery cold south-westerly winds in winter.

The front of the house faces west and the living areas are orientated to the north.  The ecohome features an airlock entry at the front of the house.  The client appreciated this entry room as it provided good protection from the strong westerly winds of this exposed house site.

Energy Efficiency

Living in the ecohome, the family found that their energy consumption was reduced to one-third of another Sunbury House where they had previously lived.

The household water consumption was reduced to one half of the Melbourne average for a family of this size.


2. Glass wall of solar court

Flexibility in the zoning of the ecohome, Sunbury included the glass wall of solar court can be opened to closed.


The passive solar design of the ecohome included the following features:


  • Living areas orientated towards the north, including solar court
  • Utility areas and bedrooms on the cooler south side of house
  • Multi-use of areas


3. View along corridor and children's play area to kitchen beyond

The wide corridor doubled as a children’s play area.


Flexibility was designed into the ecohome so that internal rooms could be opened up and increased in volume during summer and closed down to reduce room area requiring warming in winter.  High ceilings in part of the house facilitated exhausting hot air in summer.  Ceiling fans moved this warmed air downwards when needed in winter.


The house eaves and solar pergola shade the north side of the house.  Solar film has been placed on the west facing windows.

Positioning the garage and the garden court on the north east side of the ecohome provides shade fromt he early morning summer sun.


5. View from office towards west facing roof terrace and surrounding hills

West facing office took in views of the surrounding Sunbury Hills and opened onto a roof terrace.



The house has High efficiency double glazed windows throughout.  There are high levels of ceiling and wall insulation.


Cross ventilation was considered when positioning windows.  Rooms were designed to have an unobstructed flow of air throughout the ecohome.


The ecohome is located close to the former Sunbury Asylum which opened in 1879.  This heritage building and complex was later turned into one of Victoria University Campuses and lated closed in 2008.  It has since been opened for ghost tours.  The Sunbury Asylum is a Victorian architectural style of an eclectic mix of elements.


8. Front street facade facing west, ecohome, sunbury

Street facade of the ecohome, Sunbury.  Roof forms make reference to the nearby Victorian Heritage Buildings.


The ecohome makes reference to the heritage building with the roof forms on the street facade.  These roof forms also facilitate the exhausting of hot air from the roof spaces with ventilated shafts of the solar chimneys.

The passive solar design principles of the ecohome established the rectilinear form of the building.  With a mezzanine office built into the main roof form, the roof terrace sits between the front two roofs at the front of the house.  The stone clad plinth of the ecohome protects the lower levels of the external walls.  Window sizing and placement were considered with orientation and cross ventilation in mind.

House Size:  230 m2

Sustainable Features:

  • Airlock entry
  • Solar Court
  • Garden Court
  • Photovoltaic power supply grid connected
  • Solar Hot water
  • Rainwater tank
  • Grey water tank
  • North orientation
  • Passive solar design
  • Tiled concrete floor
  • Sun shading and solar pergola
  • Cross ventilation
  • Secure night time exhausting of hot air
  • Thermal mass
  • Acratex cladding
  • High performance double glazed windows and doors
  • Designed for flexible zoning
  • Heat recovery in ventilation system
  • Low chemical content building materials
  • Minimal construction waste and reuse of site materials
4. Library and Office overlooking kitchen

Ceiling fans and air transfer ducts moved air warmed are throughout the ecohome.

YourHome – Australian Government Publication

The ecohome, Sunbury was one of the feature homes in the Australian Government’s Your Home DVD.  An interactive step by step guide to comfortable stylish and healthy living.

The ecohome, Sunbury was case study in the Australian Governments YourHome CD and technical reference.


MBA Master Builders Association National Environment and Energy Building Efficiency Award for Housing – Under $300,000.

The Architecture Show Magazine and the Francis Greenway Society Green Buildings Awards – Silver Medal.

How your energy efficient home office and green business system can save you money



West st kilda house designed by BP Architects





Planning to jazz up your office in an environmental way?  Then there are two aspects to consider.  The first is your actual building.  The second is how you can make your business more environmentally friendly.


The following practical tips will pay dividends in the long run and most have very short pay back periods.  They may also save you money from the word go so for any business owner, they are all worth considering.  If not now, you can plan for them as your need arises for each of these energy efficient and money saving tips.




If you are planning to renovate your home and home office it is always good to upgrade your building so that it works better for you.  If you make it a more energy efficient home and home office then you will have a comfortable living and working environment.  Your energy bills will be lower and your working environment will be improved.


Summer Cooling


Shading your windows will block out the heat from the sun.    If you do this successfully you can still let the sun in during winter and block out the summer sun.


Each orientation of your house will be exposed to different angles from the sun.  On the east and west you have the low angle of the morning and evening sun.  Vertical screens help block out the rising and setting sun.  On the north side you have the sun at it’s highest in the sky during the middle of the day.  And on the south side of your home you might be exposed to the early morning and late evening sun during the middle of summer.


It is best to shade your windows from the heat of the sun on the outside of your window, rather than the inside.  This will stop the sun’s heat before it comes into your home office.


If your window that you want shaded is located on the east or west side of your house you can simply strategically plant trees or shrubs.  They will vertically shade your window from the low angle of the rising and setting sun.


Windows on the north side can usually be shaded during summer by the eaves this of your house.  If you do not have eaves then you might consider external shutters or a sun shading device over your window.


Sun shading to Essendon Home, designed by BP Architects

Sun shading to Essendon Home, designed by BP Architects






If overheating is a problem in your office a window film can reduce the heat input into your home office.   This will also block out any direct winter sunlight by the same percentage.


Or you can install a removable perforated reflective sheet to the inside of your window which will reflect the heat from the sun.  The perforations in the sheet still allow you to see through to the outside.



Winter Warmth


Insulation provides the best return on your investment when looking to make your home and home office warmer.  It also helps to keep the heat out during summer.


Insulation is usually easily installed and the payback period for insulating is usually a couple of years.  Hot air rises so high levels of insulation in the ceiling will work the best for you.


If you have timber floors, you will get drafts from the floor up.  Insulation such as reflective foil insulation with foam insert, which comes in a sheet, can be installed under the floor to stop these drafts.


Single glazed windows have poor insulation properties.  If you need to replace a window then you might consider installing a double glazed window.


If you want to insulate your windows, but don’t want to replace them, then you might consider heavy drapes with a pelmet.  This will keep the heat in overnight.


Or you might consider installing or having installed a second transparent acrylic or glass sheet to your window frame.  This will slow the heat flow and will also help reduce any outside noise.




West St Kilda House, designed by BP Architects

West St Kilda House, designed by BP Architects








Painting is the most readily way to jazz up your office for the New Year.  If you use low emission paint, which has low levels or zero levels of volatile organic compounds, then you can paint in an environmentally friendly way.


You will find that these paints are better to use as there are no toxic chemicals in the air when you are working.  And they are good for the environment as they have low or zero levels of chemicals in their manufacturing.  The paint industry produces more chemical emissions than vehicles on our roads so your choice can have an impact on the environment.




If you have decided that painting is the way to go to jazz up your office, then you may want to know the impact of colour on your well being.  How the psychological properties of colours can affect how productive you are and have an influence on your judgment.


The colour that will make you feel most productive is an individual choice and different for everyone.  Blue colors affect your mind; yellow your emotions; red your body; and green your ‘balance’.


Research into the affect of colour has shown that the intensity of that color is what affects you as to how you will respond.  A strong bright color will stimulate, and a color with low saturation will soothe.






If you want to stimulate your mind, then painting your workplace blue would most likely make you the most productive.  All the same, you may want to add a highlight of colour such as orange to add a bit of emotion to your colour scheme.


If you are a designer you may want yellow colours in your work place as an ego, confidence and optimistic stimulating colour.   As the colour specialist Angela Wright1 states


“It takes guts to be creative and come up with something new – that’s why yellow works in that environment.”


If you do physical work then red would make you more productive as red is a physically stimulating colour.  If balance is what you want to achieve, green is your colour.



Entrance of Essendon Home, designed by BP Architects

Entrance of Essendon Home, designed by BP Architects



Your Green Business System


The second part of making your business more environmentally friendly, and save money at the same time is to consider your business practices.


If you want your office to be an environmentally friendly office you will want to have your own green business system or, more formally known as, business environmental management system.  Your System would include how you rethink the way you run your business in a green way.  Your business operations would considering reduce, reuse and recycling in all practical aspects.


Energy consumption


The following are some ideas on how you can start saving money straight away.  There are a number of power plug timers, and power boards with foot switches, that make it easier to implement these energy savings.


Phantom energy


Phantom energy is the electricity drawn from outlets when equipment is off but still plugged in.  Switching off equipment when not in use will stop this energy consumption and stop paying for energy you don’t use.


Your home office equipment may include computers, printers, scanner, photocopier equipment, or a combination printer/fax/copier/scanner.  In 2001 the Australia greenhouse office estimated if this equipment is left on continuously you will use approximately $220 worth of electricity. Switching off the equipment when not used would save you more than half of this electricity2.


From generating annual greenhouse gas emissions of around 1.8 tones you can cut your own greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60% by simply switching off your equipment3.  This is a significant reduction in your business green footprint.


Office equipment has become more energy efficient since 2001 but energy costs have increased.  Turning off your office equipment when not in use will save you money.  It will reduce your ecological footprint and green house gas emissions.







Ecohome, designed by BP Architects

Ecohome, designed by BP Architects






Screensavers on your computer don’t save you energy and consume energy you don’t use.  Turn them off and start any energy efficient mode on your computer such as energy star.


The startup surges for equipment are of very short duration and continue only for a few seconds.



Office Equipment & Supplies


When choosing business equipment you can include energy efficiency in your criteria.


If your budget is tight then you could buy second hand equipment in good working order, or refurbished equipment.


Think about the end of life use of your equipment and toners and printer cartridges.  Can they be recycled?


If you used recycled paper then you would use a product that uses 90% less water and 50% less energy than if you used paper that was manufactured from trees4.





Artificial lighting can be another big energy user.  If possible use natural daylight.


You could consider motion sensors to turn off lights that might be left on.


LED lights are becoming more affordable.  A 100W light bulb is equivalent to an average 17W LED lamp.  There are some local council government schemes where you can have all your lights changed over to LEDs without charge.  Changing your quartz halogen downlights to LEDs is a straight forward way to reduce your energy bills.



View from the home office, ecohome, designed by BP Architects

View from the home office, ecohome, designed by BP Architects



Some plants will clean the air of chemicals as well as provide an environmentally friendly feel about your home office.




If possible you can install a photovoltaic array so that your energy consumptions is offset by the electricity generated from these panels.


Reduce, Recycle, Reuse


Rethink how you run your business to see if you can improve in these areas of reducing, recycling and reusing. This will save you money in the long run, as well as helping the environment.


This may includes reducing consumption such as using both sides of your paper.  You could sort out your waste effectively into different categories and receptacles for recycling.


Considering these three aspects of your green business system will mean that you will run an efficient business with minimal waste.

Going green in your business is not as difficult as it may first seem.   It is a practical no nonsense approach to running a streamline business that is efficient and effective; whilst saving the environment.

  1. http://alifeofproductivity.com/angela-wright-interview/
  2. 3. 4. The Green Office Guide.



Camberwell Home with first floor addition



Jan and Michael loved their existing single storey California bungalow home.  They met with architect Bridget Puszka, BP Architects and explained that they wanted an environmentally sustainable designed home retrofit for their existing home.  Their plans for their home project included a first floor addition.

They found that with their two girls now teenagers, and parents older, that their existing home did not provide the accommodation that they wanted.  Several neighbours in their street had two storey homes and Jan and Michael felt that if their home had an additional floor upstairs that it would provide the additional space that they needed in their home.  As well as this, the first floor addition would be in keeping with their neighbourhood streetscape.



Camberwell Home before retrofit and additions


You may be planning to renovate your home, add an extension, or build a new home. How do you decide if you need an architect or a draftsperson / building designer to help you with your home project?

As an architect, I often get asked this question by people who have not built their own home or renovated before. Each person’s situation is different so you have to consider all the options and decide how you can have the best design for your budget.

Here are some tips to help you decide if an architect would be the best professional to help you, or whether the services of a draftsperson / building designer will suffice.

Qualifications and registration requirements

 There is a difference in the qualifications of an architect and that of a draftsperson / building designer.

A graduate architect will be required to complete 5 years at a University studying architecture, to complete a Bachelor of Architecture and graduate with a Masters of Architecture degree.

The graduate architect has to then complete two years training and experience with an architectural company.  After completing this training, they have to pass a competency based assessment architectural practice exam before they can register with the Architectural registration board.  Once registered, a graduate architect can then call themselves an architect.

An architect may decide to go on and do further studies in an area of particular interest and to gain the skills and knowledge to call themselves an expert in their field.

For example, in my own case, after registering as an architect, I went on to complete a Masters in Architecture – Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies from the University of East London.  This provided me with the skills and knowledge to design green healthy eco homes.

The qualification for a draftsperson / building designer is typically completed over two years with an Advanced Diploma in Building Design from a TAFE college.

A draftsperson / building designer then needs to demonstrate that they have had one year of practical experience before they can registered with the Building Practitioners Board under the category of Draftsperson, Class of Building Design (Architectural).


 It is often assumed that an architect will charge more than a draftsperson / building designer.   On the website www.building.com.au it states:

“Many people wrongly assume that an architect will always be more expensive by default. While less costly projects are likely to be better suited to a building designer, prices and pricing structures can vary quite a bit, and highly sought-after building designers are likely to charge appropriately for their services”

The whole article can be read at http://www.build.com.au/whats-difference-between-architect-and-building-designer.

And an article on the home improvement website states

It’s a common misconception that architects are expensive.

You can read the whole article at https://www.homeimprovementpages.com.au/article/how_much_does_it_cost_to_hire_an_architect.

Each home project is different and unique.  It is often difficult to know the full extent of the work involved in the project until the work has been commenced.  An architect may only be able to provide an indication of the fees and not the exact amount.  As a ball-park rule an architects’ fee structure is approximately 8 to 15% of the cost of construction.

Each architect may have a different method on how they charge their fees.  An architect can charge their fees as an hourly fee, a percentage of the cost of construction, or as a lump sum fee for their work.

When I work with my Clients in designing their homes or home renovations, I have an understanding of their budget and how they can get the best from using an architect within their budgets. There are benefits to having the continuum of a professional working on your project and at the same time you have to weigh up the budget.

If my client’s budget is restrictive I can provide partial architectural services.  For example, providing architectural design services, at an hourly fee, to redesign the floor plan for their home project.

Services Provided

 You would also want to have a good understanding for what you are paying for.  Are you comparing ‘apples with oranges’?  Are the set of documents from an architect comparable with the set of documents from a draftsperson/building designer?  Is the level of service the same?

Or are you comparing two different sets of products and services?  Are the architects’ drawings more detailed and specify more information about your home project when you compare it with a draftsperson / building designer’s set of documents?

What is important in all of this, besides the level of service, is that the documents produced form part of the contract between you and your builder.  What may initially appear to be expensive at the start of a home project may save you money during construction.  Your home project’s construction phase may run smoother, with less cost over runs, if you have a comprehensive detailed set of documents for your home project.

Managing On-Site Costs

One of the most difficult issues on site is when a number of variations to the contract works arise and the resulting cost overrun of the construction budget.

As an architect, the work that I provide during documentation is a detailed service which includes detailed drawings and a separate specification and schedules.  As the documents form part of the contact between you and the builder, it is important to have what you want documented on the drawings and in the specifications and schedules.

The builder then knows what he has to supply and install and what to quote on, because it is included on the documents.  And you know what is included in the builder’s price.

This goes a long way towards managing escalating construction costs on site, and disputes arising from misunderstandings. The bottom line is that the builder’s quote for your home project should include what is included in the documents for your home project, unless there are exclusions to the builder’s scope of works.

Conclusion – architect or draftsperson / building designer?

Your home project is both an exciting and challenging time.  You want your project to run as smoothly as possible and to be managed as best as you can.  There will be issues which arise during the construction phase of your home project and you want to be able to work out what the best solution is for you in resolving these issues.

Clear communication is an important part of running a smooth project.  In deciding on who you need for your Home Project, you might consider their experience, qualifications, accomplishments, past work and enthusiasm.  You could speak to people who have used their services before and to read their testimonials.  This should all appeal to you.

Equally, or more important, is to find someone you can communicate your ideas and aspirations to, so they can help you realise your ideal home.



Bridget Puszka is a Senior Design Architect at BP Architects located in st Kilda, Victoria, Australia.

BP Architects design green healthy eco homes so you can live a premium sustainable lifestyle, that your family will love, your guests will admire, and saves you 25% on your energy.

You can read more about BP Architects’ projects and architectural services at http://www.bparchitects.com.au.



Torquay Home, Victoria, Australia

 A Sustainable home that pays its own way.

Sustainability is defined as a requirement of our generation to manage the resource base such that the average quality of life that we ensure ourselves can potentially be shared by all future generations. … [Geir B. Asheim, “Sustainability,” The World Bank, 1994]

A Sustainable Home considers many aspects such as passive solar design principles, energy building efficiency and water conservation.  Affordability is another aspect of sustainability.


Happy Client in front of brush fencing

A Brief Description

Thinking ahead about the future potential of their home, the Clients decided that they needed a beautiful home that was Climate ready, and had the ability to separately sublet part of the house, without compromising their lifestyle.  This would provide extra income without the expense of purchasing another property.  They could live the environmentally friendly life they wanted and sublet without interfering with their lifestyle.

Detailed Feature Description

Located on the 18 hole championship golf course at The Sands, Torquay, the home provided an ideal location to sublet the self contained apartment.   The location of the home is perfect for those people who want to enjoy a holiday, in comfort, surrounded by serene environment with waterways golf course and nearby beach.

The Sands Golf Course management has strict design requirements (Building and Environmental Management Code) that require compliance in the design of new houses, including an external material and colour palette.  Designed for low maintenance, Colorbond steel wall cladding was used for the upper levels and rendered brickwork on the lower level.  Large window walls take in views of the surrounds of green fairways and wetlands.



The Torquay Home was designed according to sustainable and ecological architecture principles.  Living in a green home reduces the carbon footprint of the residents and allow them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  A separate office on the ground floor provided the Client with a workplace with panoramic views.


The Weather Conditions

The Surf Coast region has a temperate climate, with mild and relatively dry summers and cooler and relatively wet winters.   The Surf Coast region is predominantly exposed to a southerly and westerly wind climate. Winds are strongest in spring and during summer afternoons under the influence of sea breezes.

The Sands is a diverse, unique and integrated residential golf course located adjacent to a sensitive foreshore environment and the Karaaf Wetlands within the Surf Coast Shire.  The Karaaf Wetland contains both wet and dry saltmarsh and is particularly significant because of the adjacent Poa grassland and dunal system.



BP Architects as award winning architects design healthy, sustainable homes which are not only smart but play a part in a healthier living environment and lifestyle.  The Torquay home provided an escape in a comfortable peaceful haven for Clients with a busy life.

Homes designed on green architecture principles are not only environmentally friendly but energy efficient making them cost effective, in the long term running costs. BP Architects are making a difference and so can you by residing in an ecological building.

If you are planning a new home and would like to talk to an architect about your future home, drop us a line.


Or visit us at http://www.bparchitects.com.au




Sunbury Home, Victoria, Australia


A Sustainable home designed to accommodate several generations of the one family under the one roof.

A Brief Description

Ecological design is “any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with living processes” as defined by American architects Sim Van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan.

The Sunbury Home is a contemporary expansive house, designed using the basis of ecological architecture and sustainable design, accommodating 3 generation in different wings of the home.

Detailed Feature Description

The family loved the look of stone buildings and wanted a sustainable comfortable home that over looked the parklands to the south.  To manage costs and to design a home that would be comfortable in summer and winter, a compromise was struck.

Castlemaine sand stone was used for the front feature wall and pillars and the main house constructed from highly insulated walls and high performance glass.  This gave an appearance of a stone home at the front of the house, and the comfort of a highly insulated home.

The Weather Conditions

With more extreme weather events and the increasing awareness of global warming, people have started to become environmentally conscious about the impact of their actions and the sustainability for the future of their younger generation and loved ones.

Energy Efficiency

BP Architects designed the Sunbury home so several generations could live comfortably in an energy efficient and sustainable building.  Several living areas were designed within the house, with natural extension to outdoor living areas, allowing the Occupants a peaceful retreat within the home.  The family would come together in the central focus of the main family room which had expansive views of surrounding parklands.



Designed as a Contemporary sustainable home, with highly insulated walls and stone cladding.  The home includes a wing for the grandparents, a parent’s wing and bedrooms for the children.  The house sits high on the hillside with parklands below.

The airlock entry provides a secure entry and assists in maintaining comfortable indoor air temperatures.    The high raked ceilings of the family room and glass windows that extend to the ceiling provide an extensive view of the sprawling parklands that surround the Sunbury home.

The Sunbury home has been designed with the principles of sustainable buildings and energy efficient home design.  Three generations of a family is accommodated in close proximity in a comfortable liveable home.

If you are planning a new home and would like to talk to an architect about your future home, drop us a line.

Or visit us at http://www.bparchitects.com.au




Mirboo Home, Gippsland, Victoria

Clients were pleased to find their home had comfortable indoor air temperatures all year round.


The Mirboo house is designed as a zero energy strawbale home, located in the rolling hills of South East Gippsland, Victoria. The design of the house required modifying an existing timber post and beam structure, located on the farmlands site, and to use this as the base structure for the new home. The clients planned to retire and live a zero energy lifestyle in the Mirboo home, and to farm native Australian pepper.

The concept of zero energy buildings is logical and easy to understand. The total amount of energy used within the house is equal to or less than the renewable energy produced by the active solar electric photovoltaic systems.  An energy building efficient home means that you use less energy in running the household which also means that the active electric system required is smaller. Basically, energy resources are fully utilized with minimal wastage.

BP Architects specialize in green architecture and ecological architecture. Being a green architect is important as more and more people are turning towards reducing their ecological footprint.


A Brief Description

The clients required their new home to be a contemporary sustainable building constructed out of strawbales, built around the existing modified post and beam structure. Several timber posts were removed, and concealed within new brickwork piers which also served to increase indoor thermal mass.  Other posts were exposed within the house and within the strawbale walls.  A new slab was laid around the existing posts.


Existing post and beam structure on site, modified to suit the new strawbale home

Detailed Feature Description

In addition to the building being energy efficient, the design was also planned for low maintenance.  Colorbond cladding was fixed to the high sections of the external walls, which reduced maintenance requirements for this section of rendered strawbales to zero.

The Weather Conditions

Gippsland is known for its cold winters and Hot summers.  The Mirboo home was designed to accommodate both extremes of weather to design a comfortable home all year round.

To test the thermal performance of the house, data loggers were installed, inside and outside, to record air temperatures. The recorded temperatures found that the indoor air temperatures stayed between 20°C and 25°C whilst outside the temperature ranged from the extremes of cold winter weather to hot summer days exceeding 40°C.

Energy Efficiency

The heating and cooling requirements of the Mirboo house are minimal. The Client stated ‘so it seems a well-designed and well-built house does indeed provide good thermal performance without any further energy input than the sun, wind and ceiling fans’.

The house was designed with passive solar design principles in place.  A north facing window wall optimized the winter sun, whilst shaded by the roof eaves during summer.  Strawbale external walls provided high levels of insulation at R5.5.  Loose straw was filled around the windows and timber frames to prevent loss of heat via cracks and gaps in the walls.

Cross ventilation was achieved with window placement and the high clerestory windows allowed for secure night time cooling and exhausting hot air.


Living areas and the master bedrooms featured curved walls readily achieved with the modular system of straw bales.  A mezzanine retreat fitted snugly above the utilities area, and overlooked the living room. This the Clients called a ‘peaceful haven away from the world’.

BP Architects are award winning architects and the Mirboo house was Highly Commended in the Sustainability Awards, Environ BPN.

If you are planning a new home and would like to talk to an architect about your future home, drop us a line.

Or visit us at http://www.bparchitects.com.au


Warragul Home, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia

An architecturally designed home; designed to be a safe haven free from chemicals and allergens.

The Clients of the Warragul home wanted the best of both a traditional and a contemporary home, with good indoor air quality and low levels of electromagnetic radiation.


Clients in front of their new kitchen

With severe, multiple, chemical allergies and intolerances, the Clients’ required an allergy free home. BP Architects specialise in green architecture and designing sustainable buildings and the Clients were pleased to learn that Bridget (BP Architects) ‘had additional qualifications in the field of ‘allergy’ [sic] architecture.’  Furthermore, the Clients wanted a home that was easy to clean and maintain.

A Brief Description

The clients had retired from a farm and wanted a lifestyle change.  The traditional use of brick veneer construction on the exterior of the home with an interior reflecting a modern and contemporary lifestyle.

BP Architects specified non-toxic building materials to be used in the construction of this home. In some instances, the Clients were given samples of other building products to ensure that there would be no immediate reaction to these products.


Kitchen, Warragul Home

Detailed Feature Description

The most important aspect in the design of the Warragul Home was to design the home as allergy free safe home. Many people suffer from several different allergies and it is important for them to reduce their exposure to allergens. Materials and finishes specified by BP Architects, used in the construction of this home, contained low or zero levels of chemicals or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitting products.  The Clients’ stated that they ‘did not suffer from any allergic responses or chemical sensitivities on moving into their new home’.

According to a study of CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), many new homes constructed in Melbourne or those that are recently renovated, have higher levels of pollutants inside the house than their exterior environment.

The Weather Conditions

The Warragul Home is located in a suburban setting with views towards the Strzelecki ranges. Located in a temperate climate, the Warragul home was designed with sun shading and natural ventilation for summer cooling and flexibility in opening and closing volumes within the home, and high performance windows and high levels of insulation for winter warmth.

Energy Efficiency

Designed as an energy efficient sustainable home, the airlock entry reduced unwanted hot air or cold air from entering the home.   The airlock entry also provided a transition zone between the external environment and the safe haven of the interiors.


Airlock entry provides a safe transition from the exterior to the safe haven of the interior


The Clients wanted a traditional brick veneer house and with the addition of clay roof tiles, the home took on a Mediterranean look.

The Client said that the laundry was her favourite room.  With glass doors, and views to the garden, an abundant of day lighting and the clean aesthetic and functionally designed layout made it an ideal workspace. The reflection pool in the garden adds a calming influence to the surrounds.


The Client’s favorite room; The Laundry

If you are planning a new home and would like to talk to an architect about your future home, drop us a line.

Or visit us at http://www.bparchitects.com.au




Essendon Home, Victoria, Australia

Colour and delight in a fully Accessible Liveable Sustainable Home.

In this era where natural resources are under threat of depletion, it is not surprising that people start adopting energy efficient and green living.  Green architecture is the part of the same campaign. People are building homes that are self-sufficient and environmentally friendly.

Designing a sustainable building for energy building efficiency and low on-going maintenance requires early consideration at the beginning of the house design; at Concept Design. This was the challenge put forward by the clients to BP Architects with the Essendon home, as well as making the home fully accessible for a motorized wheelchair.

A Brief Description

The home positioning on the south boundary, the use of recycled timber, rainwater tank and water conservation were given due consideration during the designing of the Essendon house. The house was designed to have little dependency on artificial light, heating and cooling.  ‘Only on the coldest consecutive winter day the localized bar heater is used at half the maximum heat, for a few hours to maintain comfortable air temperatures’, Dorothy Hatch, Essendon Home.

Detailed Feature Description

The main focus while designing this house was to make it energy efficient and to incorporate green architecture with low maintenance.  Windows around the house were placed with intelligent planning. The windows on the east, west and south of the house were kept minimal. Windows were placed high with the ability to open and positioned to provide good ventilation and exhausting stratified hot air during the night.

Windows on the north were designed in the master bedroom to keep the room warm. Tiled flooring was installed adjacent to the windows, for thermal mass which help maintain constant and comfortable indoor temperatures.

The Weather Conditions

Located in an inner city suburb, and surrounded by brick walls and fences, the house was positioned away from the north boundary on the south boundary. This planning ensured that the house received solar heat from the north glazed façade during the winter season.

Energy Efficiency

The sustainable building and green architecture features include:

  • Air Transfer Ducts
  • Thermal Mass in the floor slab
  • Tiled flooring adjacent to north windows
  • High windows to exhaust hot air
  • In-Ground Rainwater Tank
  • On demand Recirculating hot water ring
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Solar Pergola and Sun Shading and much more

These features ensured that the house was a sustainable energy efficient home.


While a great example of green architecture the design of the house provides a sense of space and volume. Flexibility is designed into the planning so that spaces can be open and closed, increasing air volumes, as required by weather conditions.

Award winning architects, BP Architects have expertise in designing environmental friendly homes that are also contemporary in their appearance and facilities.

If you are planning a new home and would like to talk to an architect about your future home, drop us a line.

Or visit us at http://www.bparchitects.com.au