The soft honey-coloured walls on this Lucaston home are not just a design feature. They are actually made of 45cm-thick rammed earth, designed to keep out the bitter cold of the Tasmanian winter.
In fact, the entire house has been designed for climate comfort, by HIA member Justin O’Connor. His business, Justin O’Connor Builders specialises in building energy-efficient homes, or German inspired passive houses around the Hobart area. Justin’s business won the HIA Tasmanian GreenSmart Sustainable Home of the Year in 2017 for this property.
Lucaston is a small town in the Huon Valley.
‘It is one of the colder places in Tasmania,’ Justin explains. ‘Being stuck in a valley brings the cool air down.’
It can get down to -5oC overnight in Lucaston, with a lot of frost and ice in the area. The build even saw a dusting of snow on the ground at one stage, and some heavy frosts.
But the finished property is cosy and comfortable in winter, yet stays cool in Lucaston’s warm summer months.
‘Lucaston in summer is warm for Tasmania,’ Justin says. ‘So the site has climate extremes.
‘The building performs amazingly well. It sits at 21oC almost the whole time. So it is working, and the owners are absolutely rapt with how comfortable they are in the building,’ says Justin.
The house did once reach 24oC inside, but that was on a rare 38oC day, and the owners admit to having a window open, allowing some warm air in.
For this property the thick walls, insulation, tripled-glazed windows, thermal breaks and an airtight weather-sealed roof have made all the difference. Justin believes it could be the most airtight house in Tasmania.