"The thermal comfort, clean air, natural light and energy efficiency make our home a joy to live in and to come home to at the end of each day. "

Location Torquay VIC 3228
House Size: 3BR, 163m²
Average Daily Energy Use:  11kWh (includes EV charging)

Project  Type New Build
Builder Homes With Integrity
Designer: Belco Group

About the house

The main driver was to build our forever home and for it to be efficient, with low running costs and comfortable to live in as we age. 

Over a period of 15 years of planning we developed a better understanding of building science and what can be achieved rather than relying on just meeting the minimum requirement of 6 stars. We had built before and lived in many houses that were cold / hot with the seasons. It always seems silly just to add more energy into a building to make it comfortable rather than build in a way that achieves the same goal without the ongoing high energy cost.

We searched for local professionals to help realise this goal and worked with them to achieve the best outcome for what we wanted and could afford. It took some time to settle on a team after a few false starts, but once we were up and going it was good to be able to work with them as sounding boards from a design and buildability point of view and progressively refine the design. Having a designer and builder that were “on board” with the sustainability and efficiency aspects of the project was key.

We have been in just over a year now and the house has been performing great. Throughout summer we never felt the need for aircon. Living on the coast certainly helped because of the cross-flow ventilation and sea breezes. With the recent addition of solar PV and hydronic heating we should see an annual energy cost of close to $0, if not a refund fingers crossed.

As our business has technical expertise in Building Management Systems (BMS) we have many automated and monitoring systems. There are over 60 sensors and data points we can monitor and track. This helps to make decisions to reduce energy use.

As with any project there are some things that we would have done differently in hindsight. We used many passive house principles but ultimately, we should have just gone for a full passive house design as anything else is a compromise, which is sometimes hard to deal with especially because you know it could be better! But, when we step back and look at what we have achieved, we’ve done OK and have achieved our first principle goals and lots for me to geek out on.

The last remaining thing to add to the house is battery storage, we are all cabled for it and ready to go, but we are just waiting a little longer as new types of systems are soon to be released. 

It was a long journey and like anything, the more you find out about it the more you realise you do not really understand it. Now with the wealth of information and videos available, it is not impossible for the lay person to become informed about the many benefits of building beyond the national code to produce a comfortable healthy home that is not only good for the occupants but also less taxing for the environment.

House image gallery

N facing patio


Homeowners Julia + Gavin



Open plan living


Pelmets heavy drapes UPVC doors


UPVC window fitted blind

Smart controller


Heat Exchanger

EV car charger

Insulated garage door W facing

Blower door test result

Blower door test

Ducting heat recovery

External wrap

Water pipes – purple

House information sheets

Zoominar Recording

Gavin & Julia Hulme

Energy Rater: Cameron Bell, Belco Group
Builder: Stuart Wilkinson, Homes with Integrity