custom home building is the best medicine

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Marmol Radziner 2780 / design

The materials we use to Custom build our homes and the design approach we follow can reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to our health and wellbeing. As a custom home builder, Collier Homes is acutely aware that it must adopt specific and careful planning and design for a home to take on the best sustainability and wellness principles.

The general approach to sustainability in the context of the home building appears to revolve around minimising the energy consumption of a completed home rather than considering the building materials used in the construction of a dwelling. Too often, a cookie-cutter design method is adopted-which leads to very outdated, unsustainable and repetitive results.

Materials such as concrete, bricks, roof tiles, aluminium and steel draw heavily on energy during the manufacturing process. The consequence of this is higher carbon dioxide emissions and, by extension, a more significant carbon footprint.

These materials dominate the local industry at a time of widespread transformational change, and disruption is palpable (i.e. electric cars.)

Nowhere else in Australia is the resistance towards more sustainable building more pronounced than in Western Australia – the state where double brick still reigns supreme. As a custom home builder in Perth, Collier Homes works very hard to move the baseline towards more sustainable Custom-built homes.

Some changes for the better have occurred; the trend toward smaller block sizes has driven new construction techniques. For example, skinny house designs often deploy timber framing, precast, and more efficient structural flooring systems. Such practices are beginning to gain traction in the marketplace.

As positive as these techniques are, they only result in a minor reduction in the carbon footprint, given that the predominant materials have remained essentially the same.

In addition, these same materials often impose heavier loads, necessitating more substantive foundations and structural elements-making things only worse.

If all of that isn't bad enough, the first home buyer segment is driven by a financing product solution, invariably emphasising property valuations.

Such property valuations are not necessarily sympathetic to alternative and more sustainable building materials.

We cannot continue to sugarcoat the fact that we have developed some terrible building habits, which have been made worse by the material supply chain biases in Western Australia. A custom home building approach, such as the Collier Homes' Modus, works to move things for the better. With Modus, we give considered attention to how indoor spaces connect with the outdoors and passive solar design.

custom home pic 2.jpg
an example of Collier homes design as a custom home builder

A fundamental and industry-wide attitudinal shift is needed to embrace alternative and more sustainable construction methods.

Outside of the environmental benefits, studies are suggesting a correlation between physical and mental wellbeing and nature and bio-design–particularly the use of wood.

Our living environment is as important as our genes and access to health providers- our buildings fundamentally impact our health and wellbeing.

Importantly, responsibly sourced timber is the only significant building material that markedly reduces the carbon footprint. The energy expended in timber production is much lower than other traditionally used building materials.

I see a bright future despite the apparent disconnect between current predominant building practices and wellness, materials science and social responsibility.

custom home pic 3.jpg custom home pic 4.jpg

pixels_max vakhtbovych showing extensive use of timber elements in custom home builder designs

A younger generation of Australians is in sync with global thought leaders and the societal imperatives surrounding sustainability. They will be the change agents as they ascend into leadership positions across industry and government.
As a custom home builder Collier Homes, business imperative is to identify pathways that lead to more sustainable building practices that also benefit home occupiers' health and wellbeing of home occupiers.

To enable positive changes, we need to adjust our regulatory framework. Our education system needs to urgently roll out training programs that align industry needs (i.e. we need many more carpenters). Also, banks and lending authorities must recognise that building with alternative and more thoughtful materials is not detrimental to a residential property's value. It is equally important that a custom builder's design input is recognised and valued.

Custom home building is the best medicine for constructing a residence in Perth and Western Australia in general.

Dario Amara FIEAust, CPEng, NER, APEC Engineer, IntPE(Aus) is a second-generation builder, experienced construction, and engineering executive and chartered professional engineer with some 40 years' industry experience.  He has also served as Chairman of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Chairman of the West Australian Opera Company and Chairman of Heritage Perth amongst other positions.

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