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ArticleLiving Well

Home improvement.

Custom builders Kingbuilt, and their collaborators, Gippsland Solar, on designing and powering your ideal home.

Jan 12, 2019

Words: Gippslandia
Images: Kingbuilt

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Given Gippsland’s spectacular landscapes, it’s unsurprising that more people hope of creating their dream home here. But diving into the adventure of building your home or renovating your current abode can be initially intimidating, especially when you want to best realise the potential of your land.

That’s why we went to the experts, Gippsland custom builders Kingbuilt, and their collaborators, Gippsland Solar, to get the lowdown on designing and powering your ideal home. —

Kingbuilt’s Harry Sheenhan and Jo Daly outline some of the key design trends in spatial and interior design, as well as material and colour choices. Then Gippsland Solar’s Mitch Richardson explains how you can optimise your solar system design.

Home Design with Harry

How can clients best collaborate with their draftsperson to achieve the ideal design for them?

Above everything, clients need to trust and listen to their draftsperson. Every client has ideas and inspirations, which are great, but ultimately you need to trust the designer. We have expert knowledge and are engaged to realise the best possible outcome for you. For example, you may want huge windows to capture an awesome view, but if it’s south-facing, it may create energy rating performance issues.

What’ve been some of the key trends in homes in the past couple of years?

Open plan living is still hugely popular and should remain so. Our Drouin display home Amberly Manor is a perfect example of why open plan is so popular; it feels so spacious.

Walk in robes have enjoyed increasing popularity, particularly with separate his and her divisions. Walk-in pantries too, now frequently with sinks, microwaves and other appliances. You can shut the door on a full sink of dirty dishes and your actual kitchen is spotless! We now hardly ever build a home without a walk-in pantry or butlers kitchen.

Recently there’s been an increase in requests for lifts in two-storey homes. It’s a luxury that adds a ‘wow’ factor.

Al fresco dining areas were really popular, but people are now creating full outdoor kitchens with joinery, an elaborate BBQ, rangehood and sink. Some clients include electrically motorised louvres to adjust the ceiling according to the weather.

Outdoor areas are becoming far more connected to indoor spaces, particularly the living and kitchen areas. Often, we’re using bifold and stack sliding doors to better blend the two spaces.

The biggest trend in the past couple of years is linking design elements to running costs. The costs of electricity and general living is placing heating and cooling options, such as geothermal and hydronic heating, glazing, wall cladding, window positions and subfloors higher on the agenda. Years ago, everyone had ducted heating and wasn’t interested an alternative. Now, we spend more time discussing the options, their running costs and energy efficiency impacts.

Also, slab used to be a slab, we now use waffle slabs, which are far more energy efficient; gaining us half a star towards a 6-star rating energy rating.

Obviously, a home can’t ever be 100% future-proof, but can you give some tips to designing a home layout that provides ongoing satisfaction, joy and usability?

This industry is exciting because it’s constantly, and rapidly, changing. We have access to the latest technology and materials to create solutions for ongoing client satisfaction. The fundamental design of your home, the orientation and best use of the land, is an excellent start.

We build on any land. Gippsland has some spectacular land with great views and plenty of fall. We don’t just hack into the land to fit a house, we design the house to best fit the land, views and orientation. Joy and usability can come from designing a home to fit the landscape, and these are the homes we particularly love to design and construct.

Gippslandia #8 - Home Department- Home improvement.

Interior Design with Jo

What can a client bring to you that best conveys their personality and the style they may desire in their home?

Visuals - images, samples, photographs, magazine cut-outs and even social media pages or Pinterest pins as visual references. It doesn’t take me long to help a client find their style; if you like colour or neutrals, casual or formal. The more research you’ve done, the easier it is to set a brief and create an ideal outcome.

What are some of the key trends in home interiors?

Most finishes and soft furnishings have been grey-based for quite some time now. However, it’s really important to get them right. We have cool and warm greys with different base tones. If you’re drawn to cool blue base grey we need to follow this through the home for a cohesive look.

Timber is also very popular; add warmth all the grey tones that are dominating our interiors.

Marble is a standout trend, however, terrazzo is making a comeback. Terrazzo is a mixture of marble chippings set into a cement-like finish. It can be used for tiles, bench-tops and flooring. I love the texture. I believe neutral, textured styles, teamed with greenery are very on trend and will continue to be for some time.

Should a home be styled differently to achieve the best outcome if it becomes a rental, for selling it or for living in it yourself?

A house should always be styled to a brief that’s based on your needs.

Rental or homes for sale need to look spacious and less personal, as the buyer needs to imagine themselves and their belongings in the space. Whereas, styling your home should reflect your personality. Not a staged look. Functionality is foremost, then team it with your own style.

Home Energy Efficiency with Mitch

What are the easiest or cheapest options to gain a benefit from solar power?

For people looking to take advantage of solar power, with more budgeted approach, it’s important to resist the temptation to jump at bargain-basement pricing and fantastical marketing, as it’s almost inevitable that the cheapest systems end up being the most expensive. After replacing your ‘cheap’ solar inverter for the third time in two years, the upfront cost to opt for more efficient and reliable products with dependable warranty support makes a lot more sense.

My advice would be to deal with trusted companies who have your best interests in mind and are going to be around to offer support and care long into the future. They aren’t just in the game for a quick buck.

Can you talk us through the process for designed a home that’s entirely off-grid?

The concept of being off the grid is very romantic and for a lot of people it’s an enticing option as the energy retailers continue to put the squeeze on. Designing an off-grid solution is never a one-size-fits-all package. Consumers need to be conscious of the fact that being off-grid is a lifestyle and not to be taken lightly.

Ultimately, an off-grid design is much more than a few panels, an inverter and some batteries. It’s important to design holistically, to understand your needs and expectations, to deliver the best solution for your energy requirements. For off-grid design, experience is everything.

Looking forward, what solar and energy efficiency technologies that are on the horizon are exciting you the most? Can we begin designing our homes for them?

With the amount of energy being invested in this industry at the moment (no pun intended), we’re seeing exciting developments in devices that help people get the most value from their solar investment.

Load control devices, such as the Fronius Ohm Pilot, that can capture excess solar energy that would’ve been fed into the grid for a minimal rate, and use that power for hot water or space heating. In our system designs, we’re finding that our clients are able to maximise the value from their system, even if they aren’t home when the sun’s shining.

Gippslandia #8 - Home Department- Home improvement.

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