Sherylee’s Australian Home Remodel – Part 1

Sherylee from Western Australia writes to John and Matthew asking for advice on her home.

“We are looking to build a strawbale house (bungalow) in southern Western Australia – this is what we have come up with so far. We have 3 acres of land so will have good solar access. My main concerns are how the front and rear doors line up, and I have no idea how to layout the kitchen. These draft measurements are in meters,

1. Thoughts about the front door area? Should there be a dividing wall to separate the living area? Australians seem to love open plan (which I am not against either) but I wonder about heat loss in winter.

2. I was thinking of a freestanding bath and freestanding shower in the bathroom?? Thoughts on these? The bathroom will also open to the outside (porch/deck) area – we love the inside/outside room idea!

3. I’d really like an opinion on a roofline – at this stage we are thinking of just a single gable with wraparound porch – we need it to be simple to minimise bushfire risk but daylight into our south rooms might be compromised without clestory windows???

4. As the environment is our main consideration, small is good – so the one bathroom is definitely our preference and if any other space savings can be noted, that would be great!

Thanks so much, Sherylee”

  • obmorales

    John and Mathew,

    Here is the sun path diagram that I have for Perth Australia.
    Here is the link to the web site.

  • Srdan Nagy

    Hi all :)
    So here is my proposal for the house.
    I decided to start from scratch as the house has not been built jet.
    By doing so it was possible for me to address some issues with the existing plan:
    _my largest concern is that the house is a bit too small. Existing plan measures 1400 sq ft, but has a large
    hobby room that takes considerable amount of space making most of the rooms a bit too small. If you divide
    hobby room space to the rest of the house, it would be just fine.
    _So I increased the size of the house to some 2000 sq ft (excluding the porch and external wall thickness)
    _Second bathroom. I know that Sherylee sad she doesn’t want one, but I feel it is necessary. So I made a
    compromise, Now there is a smaller bathroom, and a master bathroom.
    _As you will see I respected Sherylee’s original floor plan of the house, it was just fine.

    Will this all increase the construction cost….bigger house = higher price.. yes but not in this case.
    I designed the house around modular system, here all the structural elements (like columns painted in red on my plan) have same dimensions, and are spaced in equal intervals ….that will make construction easier faster and in the end cheaper.
    As house will be built using straw bales a insulation, which is not standard method of construction, simple floor plan
    will help keep the cost down and construction easier. That is why I made house with just four external corners…

    I also added elevation just for fun…


    P.S. I am missing a door in the hobby room leading to porch… :(

  • Srdan Nagy

    Something went wrong I am missing the floor plan… here it is

  • obmorales

    Hello Sherilee and S.N.
    S.N. as always you have done a super job. There are a few comments that I have added to the graphics, hope that I can up-load them without any hassles. These are additional comments;
    I would prefer the bedrooms to have a door and a window to the outside, for summer cooling; I usually prefer bedroom to have windows across or at least perpendicular to each other for cross ventilation.
    The clerestory windows will be an added feature once the F.V. array is configured.
    I drew a possible wall, screen or millwork, to separate the entry from the living space; I would even swing the door away from the closet.
    Since it is unknown at this point as to where the driveway will be, maybe one of the closets on the hobby room could be used as a part of a mudroom. I don’t see any issues with going through the hobby room to get to the kitchen and rest of the house.
    If the driveway is on the other side then simply mirror the house so the mudroom is closer to the driveway. (this of course if there is no view that are dear to you)
    S.N. Hope you don’t mind that I drew over your graphics.

  • obmorales

    Sorry but the bottom half of the plan got cut off

  • JJ

    I think the overall plan is well thought out and I think Obmorales has provided some good insight. This is a small suggestion for the laundry. By rotating the washer dryer into the room it removes you from being in the circulation space while doing laundry. It also puts the wet wall on the same plane as the existing bathrooms to min plumbing costs and maintain efficiency.