5 tips for building a home in sub-tropical Queensland

This post is sponsored by Coral Homes

dave-metime

This is my husband, Dave.

Dave likes to build stuff.

He crafted this wooden keepsake when he was just a teenager.

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He whipped this swing up for the kids for kicks one afternoon.

swing
Oh yeah, and he designed and built our house.

Pretty talented guy, huh?!

Designing and building our house was a mammoth task for Dave, but he relished the opportunity to put everything he learned from his work as a draughtie/designer and carpenter into action to make the home of our dreams.

We hit a few bumps along the way with the design, as you do. We were quick to discover our land was in a heritage listed area meaning the design had to tie in with post-war homes in our street. This caused a few issues for Dave’s funky design, but he worked around it.

The other major factor Dave took into account was working to Brisbane’s sub-tropical climate.

Summers are brutal here with hot and humid days and nights. Meanwhile, the nights can become quite cool in winter.

When Coral Homes asked me to share my experience with building homes in a sub-tropical climate, I jumped at the chance as this is something we have plenty of experience with. And when I say ‘we’, I mean Dave.

I’ll hand you over to the master now, so he can share his top tips on building a house in a sub-tropical climate like Brisbane.

1. Build to the environment

Do your research on where and when the sun will hit your house throughout the year and in which direction the prevailing winds come from. Not everyone has the luxury of tracking the sun and wind paths throughout the year, but be as conscious as you can of these elements. Work to the sun’s path and natural breezes.

Due to the shape of our land, we couldn’t pick and choose the orientation of our house. Our house lies west to east, which is not ideal. With a bit of creativity, we’ve been able to cool the living areas on both of these sides with external screening, larger soffits, blockout blinds and clever placement of windows. We placed external screens on the western side to keep the harsh afternoon sun off the walls and windows, large opening doors and windows to the east to capture the afternoon breeze and shade awnings over the northern windows.

Don’t forget to use natural assets like trees and vines or creepers to provide shade.

house2

Larger soffits and external screening

2. Ventilation

The main goal is to achieve cross-ventilation. If you bring air in one end, you need to let it out the other.

To maximise air flow in our living area we have used two sets of bi-fold doors with seven panels in each. This completely opens up the room and lets the air flow freely. On days where there is no breeze, or worse, hot winds, we close the doors, pull the semi blockout blinds down and run an economical split system air conditioning unit. Reducing your reliance on air conditioning will save you money and make for better and healthier living.

Bi-fold doors

Bi-fold doors

3. Positioning and treatment of windows

Any window that has direct sunlight will introduce vast amounts of heat into a room. Carefully consider the position of your windows and protect them with either screens, shades or applications such as reflective film or double glazing.

Awnings will take out some of the harshness of the summer sun, but will also allow the winter sun to enter.

Don’t forget to consider your window size. Louvres are an excellent option as they give you close to 100 % air ventilation as opposed to the restricted air flow via modern day casement and awning windows.

There is nothing worse than a mozzie buzzing in your ear during the night, so insect screens are a must in Queensland. They will also allow you to maximise on the cooler night time air.

Windows and louvres

Windows and louvres

4. Insulation

Insulation, insulation, insulation. Put it in your roof, your ceiling, your walls. Cram as much in as possible to keep out the heat and keep in the warmth.

5. Building material and colour

Be aware that some external claddings, if not used in conjunction with insulation, can radiate heat into your house. Materials with a greater thermal mass will radiate heat long after the sun sets.

When choosing your external colours, go for lighter shades as they will lessen the brutality of the heat on your home. Save darker colours for trims.

house3
So, there you have it.

Building in a sub-tropical climate can be tricky and it does require careful consideration.

If you aren’t as lucky as me to have a Dave to help you with designing and building your home than seek out a reputable organisation like Coral Homes. They have plenty of Daves who understand the needs and requirements of working in this difficult climate.

Have you ever built your own home? What tips can you share?

This post is sponsored by Coral Homes. As always, all opinions are my own.

Flogging my blog today with the gorgeous Grace from With some grace.

 

46 comments on 5 tips for building a home in sub-tropical Queensland

  1. Lydia C. Lee
    February 13, 2015 at 5:42 am (3 years ago)

    Wow – that is impressive!!

    Reply
  2. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    February 13, 2015 at 7:18 am (3 years ago)

    Yes to all of these Renee! We had to build to fit our block too, but eventually made it work. Now John’s working on our next plan, and even though we thought we’d built our dream house, there are still a few things we’ll change next time.
    Your house looks so beautiful x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:34 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, it can be a learning experience can’t it?! There are a few things we would change here too. Good luck with your next project x

      Reply
  3. Wish U.S Were Here
    February 13, 2015 at 7:24 am (3 years ago)

    Wow, I love your home! Definitely a perk to have such a handy hubby πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:34 am (3 years ago)

      It sure is! Thank you πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Erin
    February 13, 2015 at 9:25 am (3 years ago)

    Great tips! Love the bi-fold door ideas, love insulation!! Didn’t know that about the colours. We were fortunate being on land that we were able to ‘turn’ our house to face the north. Meaning our old house faces a terrible prospect but the new attached house joins at an angle.
    Love all your windows!!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:35 am (3 years ago)

      Oh that’s great, Erin. Sounds like a huge house, but you’d need it πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. Robyn
    February 13, 2015 at 10:46 am (3 years ago)

    Oh I would so love to design my own home. One day – it’s on the dream list! You have one very clever hubby there by the way :))

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:35 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Robyn πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages
    February 13, 2015 at 11:57 am (3 years ago)

    That is quite a leap from building a swing to building a house! Definitely have to build to the weather in QLD so these are great tips – thanks Dave πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:36 am (3 years ago)

      Haha! Yes, well there were a few other projects in between πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Bec @ The Plumbette
    February 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Great work Dave. I love this post and I love your house. Is Dave interested in doing a guest post for my blog? Will be sharing this on my facebook page now. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:39 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks so much for the share, Bec. Yes, Dave would love to do a guest post for your blog if you’re still keen πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Lisa @ Read Write Run
    February 13, 2015 at 2:39 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve been through the home-building process, but that was an existing design with a home building company. The main decisions we had to make were related to colour schemes and fittings. The house I’m in now was built in the 1970s.. and suffers from hot western sun and lack of cross-ventilation. Or at least I’m suffering. Despite insulation it’s terribly hot in here!
    Lovely home you have there. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:39 am (3 years ago)

      Ahh that’s no good, Lisa. That western sun can be a killer πŸ™

      Reply
  9. Pinky Poinker
    February 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm (3 years ago)

    That is one cool house in more ways than one. Heritage listing positions can create headaches but he was on a winner here! Clever man.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:40 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Pinky πŸ™‚

      Reply
  10. Caroline Raj @ Mamma Raj Says
    February 13, 2015 at 6:32 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow – lots to consider! Thank goodness I live on the other end of Australia in Melbourne (although I’m sure the four seasons in one day thing would also provide challenges!).

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:40 am (3 years ago)

      Yeah I bet it would, Caroline πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Rachel_Ourtownbrisbane
    February 13, 2015 at 7:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh I am with you on the screens! We don’t have them ad the mozzies are a constant pain in the butt. I’ve often thought when I’ve caught glimpses of your home in your Facebook posts that it looked lovely. Dave has done a fabulous job!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:41 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Rachel πŸ™‚

      Reply
  12. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    February 13, 2015 at 8:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Now that is impressive, love me a Kiwi builder! Go Dave. I too am married to a very handy man, saves a lot of hard-earned cash on tradies! Great post and I hope we can build another house soon and take all of this advice on board!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:41 am (3 years ago)

      Yes, we love those Kiwi men πŸ™‚ It definitely makes a difference when you have someone to help with all of those bits and pieces around the house.

      Reply
  13. Toni @ Finding Myself Young
    February 13, 2015 at 8:55 pm (3 years ago)

    I wish I had a Dave to build me a house, and before I find him I need to find someone else to buy me the land to build the house on. Then work out a way Trent can pay for it.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:42 am (3 years ago)

      Lol, Toni!!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Adam Edwardson
    February 13, 2015 at 11:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Sweet pad Ren.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      February 14, 2015 at 6:43 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Adam. Maybe one day you will get to see it IRL πŸ™‚

      Reply
  15. Katie
    February 14, 2015 at 9:46 am (3 years ago)

    Your house looks BEAUTIFUL!

    Reply
  16. EssentiallyJess
    February 14, 2015 at 4:17 pm (3 years ago)

    Fave is very clever. That all sounded like Latin to me, which is proof he knows his stuff! πŸ™‚
    I love your house btw. I don’t love cleaning louvres however. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 11, 2015 at 8:00 pm (3 years ago)

      There’s a secret to it, Jess. I leave it up to Dave πŸ™‚

      Reply
  17. Grace
    February 15, 2015 at 9:27 am (3 years ago)

    Wow! Your place is absolutely beautiful! And what a talented man you have there! Dave has brought out some very important points and really, you can’t stress enough the importance of insulation! You guys need to go on Grand Designs:) x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s his favourite show, Grace!

      Reply
  18. Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    February 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm (3 years ago)

    What a beautiful home you guys have hun and not to mention a fabulously talented hubby you have there xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Thank you, Sonia. I’m very lucky πŸ™‚

      Reply
  19. Bec
    February 19, 2015 at 7:47 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh wow. I understand it’s pretty stressful being involved in a house build in general let alone a DIY! It looks stunning btw:)

    Reply
  20. Johanna
    March 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Your Home looks absolutely stunning Renee! Congratulations – next step Grand Designs πŸ˜‰

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      March 11, 2015 at 7:43 pm (3 years ago)

      Lol. Thank you! Yes, I think Dave would be amazing on something like that or the Block πŸ™‚

      Reply

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