- Interior Design and Contemporary Homes Magazine

The Dirt on Rammed Earth Construction – Is it a Good Option?

Rammed earth constructed buildings are gaining popularity in Australia, but are still relatively unknown to the wider community. If you have seen a building made with rammed earth, whilst you may not recognise the construction technique, you would have surely appreciated its beauty. Made with compacted earth, the walls have a natural colour, beauty and texture that is unique. Not only is the aesthetic aspect a feature but the size and thickness is also an architectural character.

The thickness of rammed earth walls is generally around 300 to 400 millimetres. Made from a mixture of soil, gravel, clay and sand, plus mixed with 5% stabilized rammed earth (SRE). A small amount of water is added before the formwork is completed. This is when the mixture is compressed between steel or timber forms with pneumatic rammers until it becomes somewhat like sedimentary rock. The finish is smooth and sharp. And the horizontal lines formed give the walls a distinct architectural aesthetic feel.

The colour of the rammed earth wall depends on the type of soil used. Naturally earthy tones are prominent and if another colour is desired, natural iron oxide can be added. This means a range of colours can be achieved which are all natural and non-toxic. Unlike plaster painted walls the colour is a part of the construction and does not chip or peel away. It is common for a clear sealer to be applied to prevent staining and dirt getting into the wall.

It is not an issue to have buildings made from rammed earth to be more than one storey in height or quite tall. The walls are very strong and can bear a lot of load. It is often the case that rammed earth structures are designed to be tall which showcases the architectural beauty of the walls themselves.

racv rammed earth wall

Rammed Earth Structures in Australia

A well known rammed earth building in Australia is the National Wine Centre in South Australia. Situated in the heart of the botanic gardens, this building is admired for its beauty and its rammed earth walls contribute to this architectural admiration.

A cattle ranch in Western Australia has the biggest rammed earth wall in the Southern Hemisphere. Luigi Rosselli Architects designed this wall for seasonal worker housing on the ranch. It is referred to as the ‘Great Wall of WA’ and is a fantastic example of the environmentally friendly building techniques rammed earth brings to the construction industry.

Another example of rammed earth architecture is the public toilets in Uluru. Quite fitting that the structure is made from natural materials, considering the landscape and beauty that surrounds this area.

Can Houses be built with Rammed Earth?

Residential homes are being built with rammed earth construction. A leading rammed earth construction company in Australia is ‘Earth Structures Group’, who have built close to one thousand residential homes. They work in this niche market of residential building in Australia and their website states;

‘We respect the investment our customers are making with us, and we provide the world’s best practice with our construction systems. We follow strict compliance codes set up within our group and are constantly striving to improve our methods.’

This addresses some of the limitations people have attributed to homes made with rammed earth. Insulation of rammed earth homes has been looked at to ensure it complies with modern energy star ratings in Australia. Good knowledge and planning of thermal mass must be part of the design process. The homes need to have insulation planning before construction. This means using passive solar design for the high thermal mass of rammed earth walls.

In some cases depending on the homes’ location and its position to the sun, extra insulation may need to be designed into the home. This is the reason why people use companies like Earth Structures Group, as they collaborate with architects due to their expertise with Rammed Earth. Meaning homes can be built with the best thermal benefits and not have to rely on constant use of air conditioners in Summer and heaters in Winter. They also comply with energy ratings in building regulations.

Making sure homes built with rammed earth achieve a good thermal rating will contribute to a rise in mainstream acceptance and knowledge. Not only will this appeal to environmentally aware home builders and owners, but energy conscious homeowners wanting to save on bills.

Just make sure you engage a builder that is experienced in rammed earth construction, design and planning.


Further reading https://www.earthstructuresgroup.com.au

Nine Common Mistakes When Choosing a House

buying a house

When choosing a house, you need to make sure that it meets proper requirements. So if you have chosen to build a new home instead of a home renovation, you won’t know about the details of a prospective house, if you don’t properly check it. There are various mistakes that cause you to end up buying the wrong house:

1. You don’t talk with the actual homeowner: Real estate agents are the first people who you encounter, but they don’t always know everything about the house. It’s better to talk with the homeowner as well, to ask more detailed questions about fixtures, tiles and piping behind the wall. If you don’t meet the owner, there’s no way you will get a complete picture about the house.

2. You don’t check the floors: Floors are often hidden under thick rugs or carpets. Look under the carpets to check the condition of the floor. As an example, damp floors could indicate plumbing issues.

3. You don’t check the wall: Quick cosmetic repairs of the walls could hide nasty cracks. If the brick wall is cracked, it’s possible that there’s a movement underneath. This is a big structural issue that can be expensive and time consuming to repair. You should always be suspicious of fresh paint. In many cases, it’s just harmless fresh paint, but it can also hide a big problem. Check carefully whether the current homeowner is covering something up, such as water damage.

4. You don’t check the basement: There are many problems associated with basement. Because it is located at the bottom part of the house, basement may have humidity problems. Check for excess moisture, especially during rainy season. If the basement feels damp, this could indicate a big problem.

5. You don’t check the windows: You can’t just look at the windows. Open and close each of the windows. Also, make sure that each locks properly. Brand new cheap windows may look great, but they won’t last for decades. Windows with poor quality will also drive up electricity bill during winter.

6. You don’t check the roof: Checking the roof can be challenging, but it is necessary. Older houses may have multiple layers of roofs and one of them could be asbestos, which is risky for your health. If you are suspicious of potential problems, get the roof checked by experts.

7. You don’t check the trees: Many potential buyers love houses with lush, green surrounding. However, nearby trees can be a source of problem and they need to be inspected. In dryer areas, trees are fire hazard during summer. Trees with huge branches could wreck your house during severe storms. Tall leafy trees could also regularly clog the roofs during fall.

8. You don’t check the electrical system: It’s hard to decipher electrical and plumbing issues because they can be easily hidden from the naked eyes. You need to check electric boxes to see whether there are exposed wiring. You may need professional helps to know whether installations are in good conditions. Ask the homeowners if there were electrical shorts in the past. Even if you are not too knowledgeable about electrical system, it’s easy to see if it’s already a few decades old. If you are not sure, bring a cctv technician along with you during the second walkthrough around the house. Make sure that the expert brings tools and test equipments to make sure that the electrical system is still reliable.

9. You don’t check building permits and violations: After you complete the walkthrough, you should investigate any permit or violation issues. Check with the local fire departments and building departments to make sure that the structure comes out clear. Visit neighbours to know whether they have complaints and issues with the house. If there are issues, make sure that they can be rectified easily. Sometimes, you are dealing with an overly sensitive neighbour and if the person may bring a lot of trouble in the future, you should include this in your buying decision. Check whether the house has a recent extension and in some cases, it could cause problem with neighbours and local authoritative. Permits may have never been filed and there’s no adjustment in taxes.

Top 3 Features Every Luxury Home Needs To Sell For A Good Price

To achieve the best price for your home you need to have certain fixtures as standard. These will add a sense of luxury to your home and have prospective buyers willing to pay more. Don’t go overboard and install expensive items that won’t add any capital value. A crystal chandelier or marble bench tops for example. The idea is to enhance your home with everyday items that add a sense of luxury as standard. And thus give your home a luxury price tag.

1. Alarm System

alarm system
A home alarm system will increase the value of your home. Not only do home alarms offer the buyers security, the buyers will have cheaper insurance. Insurance companies offer as much as 20% discount on policies. This is a good selling point for you agent. Also buyers are willing to invest more in a safe and secure home. People don’t put a figure personal and family safety. Which makes a higher price for your home achievable.

If buyers are deciding between two homes, an installed alarm is a definite stand-out feature. People resonate on a very personal level with the security and protection of their home and loved ones. It also gives the buyers an incentive in buying your home, as they do not have to spend any extra on security.

Additional Home Security Features

  • Motion-detected exterior lighting
  • Deadbolts on all exterior doors
  • Keyed window locks
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Video doorbell systems

All of these features shows a commitment of time, money and effort. Which together add investment and capital that will be returned in purchase price. Not only that but buyers value not having to do any of these security features themselves and are quite happy to pay extra.

2. Wall Mounted TV

wall tv install

Home entertainment systems bring extra value to a home. But be smart about how you present your homes entertainment. There is no need to go out and purchase the most expensive system with surround sound and projectors. Simply mounting a large TV on the wall will give the look of a home entertainment system without having to overcapitalise.

It will give your home a cinematic feel and buyers can easily visualise themselves using the space for home entertainment. Which in this day and age is common practice. Equally appealing with a wall mounted TV is the flow and look it gives your living room. It will make the space appear bigger and not cluttered. And space equals money more than anything else when it comes to home prices. The more spacious feel you can give your home the better price you can achieve. Make sure you have a professional install your wall mounted TV. This way you will not have loose hanging cords or wires. And your brackets will be fixed correctly avoiding any danger of the TV falling.

3. Ducted Vacuum System


central ducted vacuumDucted Vacuum systems are increasing in popularity every year. Luxury homes should have them as standard and homes that want to achieve million dollar plus price tags should also install these systems. Ducted Vacuums can be installed in new, renovated and existing homes. They provide a great incentive to the buyer when considering your home. The cost for ducted vacuum systems can be anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 and will depend on factors like size of property and one or two storeys. But the value it will add to your home will be much, much more than this.

Ducted Vacuum Systems are considered a luxury feature and can justify a higher price for your home. They will also play a factor in buyers comparing your home to others and help your stand out from the rest. Real estate agents will always list ducted vacuum systems on the property listings and use it as a selling tool to potential buyers.


Luxury Home and Luxury Price Tag

By investing in these luxury home features you will be much more likely to achieve a higher selling price for your home. It will also mean your home can be described by real estate agents as a luxury home. Which attracts a range of buyers more willing to pay a higher price. The total spend for all of these items can be done for less than $10,000. But the return on your investment can be five to ten times this at least. It is so important to spend on the right items in your home to increase the homes value. If you these 3 features you can’t go wrong.

Luxury Home Builders

Luxury Home Builders

Verde Homes is a luxury home builder located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. With amazing designs and high end luxury home living we just had to mention them.



How to Create Minimalist Kitchen Design ?

How to Create Minimalist Kitchen Design ?
Kitchen Design Idea by Designer Anne Bondarenko


Kitchen Design Idea by Designer Anne Bondarenko

Kitchen Design Idea by Designer Anne Bondarenko

Everybody wants to have a perfectly designed house with the most beautiful and modern features. With regard to the kitchen, the best design for any home is a minimalist kitchen design. However, in designing a minimalist kitchen there are a number of important points that must be taken into consideration.

First, you have to consider the color choice for not only the appliances, cabinets, and counters, but also for the walls and ceilings. In a true minimalist kitchen, the lighter the coloring the better, white obviously being the best. Not only will white make your kitchen look larger, brighter, and cleaner, it is also easier to clean up because it makes any dirty spots show up. White should be used not only on the cabinetry, but also on the walls and ceiling. However, if a stark white isn’t your game, you can also go with an off-white or cream.

Your next point of consideration is lighting. During the day, you want your kitchen to be bathed with natural lighting. As you can see in the image above, natural lighting brightens the kitchen and works perfectly with the light coloring on the appliances, walls, cabinetry, and ceiling. If your kitchen is dark during the day, make sure that you install some windows or skylights to brighten it up. This natural lighting will not only brighten the kitchen during the day, at RSG Roofing LLC, they tell all their customers that natural light can promote general health and well-being, which is essential for a room that people spend so much time in. However, you’ll also have to make sure that your kitchen has proper lighting at night. Make sure you get lights that can provide enough light to see, but that will also supply the proper ambiance to your kitchen.

The final point to consider is decoration. A truly minimalist kitchen should contain few decorations. In fact, sometimes, the only decorations in a minimalist kitchen are the appliances. If you must get decorations, though, make sure that they are sleek and modern looking.  By considering the points above, your kitchen will be any minimalist’s dream kitchen.

Images Credit: Kitchen – Anne Bondarenko