Renovating sustainably

This is good to know. I like my ceilings flat but I totally understand that this would feel Very Fancy™ and also be really good for light and heat/cool.

I can definitely be convinced to have a roof this colour. It’s not far off our current gutters and looks good with our existing cream brick.

Ponder says he doesn’t like the cream brick but I am a very big fan of it, so I’m excited to see what he comes up with for new sections as an alternative - we’re both making mood boards to show each other.


I have been convinced on the pretty sloping skillion roof. We’ve also decided to opt for a main bedroom layout that allows equator-facing windows rather than just more windows so that our room will be a little better temperature controlled rather than nice views but not pleasant to sit in.

Another thing we’ve done is to opt for an open carport to allow air and light but spend money on a very secure gate on both the carport and pedestrian walkway up to the house. That should keep bikes etc secure enough, but be more pleasant and provide more gardening spaces.

We get updated sketches in a fortnight, hurray!


Still waiting on the new sketches, should get them in the next few days.

Sustainable building and such isn’t confined to the new stuff we’re putting in, but also about how we dispose of the existing parts that don’t work for us any more. I’ve been looking up companies that take bricks and paving for re-use, and started a list of parts of the house that we can take apart and put up for free pickup (or a nominal cost) on Gumtree, Buy-Nothing and so on.

The time between now and renovating I’m also spending on passing on furniture and other belongings we don’t want, as we’ll be moving twice in 6 months (to a rental and back again). Less stuff to move means less fuel to move it!


Somehow I just found this, but I’m HERE for it.

Have you read “Make your House do your Housework?” I think it’s about 50/50 horribly dated and amazing ideas but the amazing ideas make it so worth it. Some of it is renovating/building specific but some is about how you arrange your things in the space. He talks about fixtures that are easy to clean, furniture types, ways to reduce traffic issues, etc.


I looked for a copy of it years ago and couldn’t find a local copy so gave up, because being US based I figured would make it more of a translation exercise for me. I’m keen for anything and everything easy maintenance, though!

I’m also about to re-read my copy of “Design Mom” by Gabrielle Blair, who is also over on Instagram.

We got some nice side layouts of the house and are currently waiting on an updated layout and first-pass quotes from builders, to make sure we’re hitting the right price range. Meanwhile, Ponder and I are going to print off several and scribble all over them with our ideas & concerns, so that we can check them against the updated stuff we should receive by the end of the month.

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I think it might just be hard to find because it’s old! There’s not much US specific. Off the top of my head, things like furniture that doesn’t have legs (either floating or built in or with a base) so you’re not trying to vacuum under it and light fixtures that are easy clean and not likely to catch bugs and dust in them, that sort of thing.

They also get into ways to have fewer doors. One thing I’d highly recommend is the IKEA bathroom vanities. The one piece counter/sink combo has a little lip that keeps water and soap from going over the side, and they have drawers that make it easy to store things in. I’m a godmorgon evangelist - we have two and they are AMAZING.

Oh and having a mud room and/or good mats to catch dirt and prevent it from coming in. We do not have one but we also have a dog so I’m not sure how much it would help since she brings so much in herself.

I’ll dig out my copy and send some photos maybe?

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That would be helpful! I have mats at every door to catch dirt, and we’ve mostly stopped wearing shoes in the house. Our house isn’t big enough for a mudroom but at the moment dirty people come in through the laundry… I plan on having some kind of way to rinse off outside before entering the house at the front door and laundry doors since they’re the most likely to have very grubby people come in them. It will probably be a hose and some chunky gravel or stones to stand on.

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Our new house does not have a door directly from the garage into the house, which I find unusual for an attached garage.

One door leads to a little walk/porch to the front door, and the other opens onto the enclosed back porch where another door opens onto the dining room.

It’s going to take me a while to organized shoe storage for 6 people since we don’t wear shoes in the house. So far my collection of random throw rugs has been pressed into service, but there clearly need to be shelves and seats. Also, whatever shoes I want to wear are always at the other door, it seems.

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Have you looked into linoleum at all for an easy clean, softer than tile, eco friendly flooring? I have no personal experience with it.

This book is super into finishes that hold up for commercial spaces, and I think lino is also supposed to be great for universal design because it’s a bit softer in the event of falls or fragile joints. They’d also say you should put the flooring partway up the wall (even walls of carpet?!?) so there are things I’m not that into also…

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Breezeway? They’re super common here in MN anyway.

I’m putting Lustrolite panels in my bathroom instead of a traditional shower line for this very reason.

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I feel like a breezeway connects a detached garage to the house.

This is like the house has a little front porch and the attached garage has a door that opens onto that but not one that opens directly into the house.

I suppose it’s regional, though I think that in a snowy climate you’d want to go directly into the house and other houses we looked at did.

It will be better next year when we’ve had time to organize the back porch for shoes and coats.


Oh, yep, I wasn’t picturing it correctly. That does sound like an interesting layout!

had to google it, but those look magical! Are they super pricey? Would make an amazing kitchen backsplash too.

If I were renovating, I’d put Eclisse pocket doors anywhere a pocket door makes sense. Their hardware is really nice and they have great gaskets to stop some of the noise travelling from pocket doors. We have two pocket doors and one has decent hardware and one has very old hardware, but it seems like to put Eclisse stuff in we’d have to rip out the whole thing, which I’m not here for. Johnson makes a decent track that can easily retrofit.

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The quote I got from a bathroom contractor was $1000 more for Lustrolite than tile, getting the panels from a local distributor. SOOOOOO worth not having grout lines!

Is it easy to drill into to add handholds and such?

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Yep! It’s basically just a glass panel, with coloured backing.

I believe there are several brands in Australia - I had trouble finding it in the US sold for small residential jobs and every time I thought I found a website it turned out to be an Australian company. It seems more popular in bathrooms in Australia and parts of Europe (according to the infallible internet).

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Update on our progress. We got quotes and they were $340k-380k. The budget we had given the architect to work with was $220k! I’ve sent an email asking for their ideas on saving money, and what comments they need for us to move to the next stage. I had my BFF look at their specifications and they asked builders to quote for the fanciest option of everything. I’m happy to pay more for extras like a spot to eventually add an electric car charger, or better quality solar panels, but not for benchtops or floors that could meet our needs at a lower price point.

I also need to ask them about adding grey water reuse to the plumbing and rainwater tanks. Getting those done would be perfectly reasonable to pay more right now for.


Hello, we have made some progress and are onto the next stage - waiting for approval from the council. At this point:

  • We have all our living spaces facing North, for lovely winter sun (facing the equator, we’re southern hemisphere). This is also where our backyard and outdoor living spaces are, so we will feel like we have a lot of space, can keep an eye on the kids easily, but have included some semi-secluded areas for quiet time.
  • We have some “zoning” within the house - all the living areas are in one section, and then there’s effectively a southern wing for our bedrooms and bathrooms. We also structured the living spaces such that we can add a door between the kitchen/ dining/ entrance and the lounge at a later date.
  • We opted not to change our roof shape to save money. We may decide to remove the tiles and replace with a metal roof to improve the insulation.
  • Current house is double brick, new sections will be wooden framed with insulation and a “weatherboard”-look fibre cement sheeting.

We still have decisions to make on window glass, framing, and all the internal parts!


So, this or similar is what I’ve picked for our driveway, if we replace the current paving. It’s fine for bikes but I haven’t checked if it’s OK for walkers and wheelchairs:

Should cost about $10k to redo our driveway (given whatever labour costs end up being), but it will happen after the rest of the reno. There’s pebble, gravel and grass options, and it looks like what we use underneath for base layers is the main factor in what can drive on them.


Finally found the bit in their website that addresses this… Yep, all good for mobility aids. Excellent.