Halstead Renovation 2008

Celebrating 100 Years at Halstead Street


Creating a comfortable, energy efficient living space for the 21st Century


Last updated : 2009.July 31


[Currently with a few gremlins in the pictures (!) which we hope to resolve soon – any HTML advice welcome!]


Background | Features of the Renovation | Things we could have done better ! | Links to our designer, trades & suppliers | A few Good Ideas we stumbled on



This nearly symmetrical house of aprox 240 m2 was built around 1909, using stone and brick, with a large iron roof with “box” gutter and the high ceilings – intended to disperse internal summer heat - characteristic of its period. The street entrance faces South, with the North aspect facing onto a garden, with relatively little integrated uses, so far. The house has two bedrooms on the Southern side, another two on the East, a formal dining room on the West, with a central corridor from front door to back and originally had a “lean to” construction at the rear ( North) for laundry and bathroom.

In the 1980’s the then-owners made an extensive renovation : the central corridor was blocked (!) to provide a walk in closet and pantry, while the wet areas were relocated to the Eastern side, with two bathrooms ( side by side, but not connecting !) – one of them an ensuite to one of the bedrooms. Among other things, this re-configuration reduced flow through ventilation, as well as reducing accessibility to the bathroom for the several bedrooms without ensuite ! The replaced lean-to room ( 6 m x 3 m, with sloping roof), was too narrow to provide both walk through access to the toilet/bathroom and comfortable recreation space.


Our plan, evolved after years of living with these inadequacies, was to return to the strengths of the original design and reverse the counter productive effects of the previous renovation and to add certain relatively simple additions to enhance the site’s natural advantages, particularly the North facing aspect. We intended to produce an economical AND low energy demand domestic solution (among other things, in distinction to the 85 % of South Australian homes that rely on Air Conditioning !)



Features of the renovation

·      Utilisation of North-facing aspect, particularly to avoid air conditioning

·      Restoration of original design to maximise amenity

·      Reuse of existing windows & doors

·      Use of pergola as natural cooling mechanism on Western side

·      Use of tiles & wide eaves as passive solar design

·      Introduction of sheltered vegetable garden

·      Installation of rain harvesting water tanks

·      Interior view

·      Plan

·      Some things we should also have done, but didn’t !

·      Links



Below : North Face ….wide eaves exclude summer sun ( high in the sky) but open to admit winter sun ( as sun sinks lower in the sky). Note also - space for hooks to dry washing in winter …



Below :Restoring the original passageway ….. blocked by previous owners in 1980’s …


Before ….closet & pantry block access & ventilation !


Progress ….




Below : re-use of windows and doors from 1980’s renovation ….saving rainforest timber !




Below : New Pergola on Western side – in summer, vines to provide shade; in winter, leaves fall, opening naturally for daylight … note : shade cloth intended for first season only, till vines establish themselves …


Below : Tiles for passive thermal effects – cool in summer, then absorbing heat from sun in winter… picture below shows sun penetration in Autumn ( April)

Below : Sun penetration on mid-winter’s day … note cat on the left


Below : new vegetable garden ….relatively protected on Eastern side… re-used shadecloth protects during temporary heatwave !



Below : Rain water tanks … capacity 10,000 litres total, plumbed to toilets, showers & hot water system



Interior view … facing towards North. ( Temporary shade cloth cover over deck…)





Some things we didn’t do, but should have …

·        We should have marked the positions of the studs in the new walls – using a stud finder may not be the best way to find them, especially for hanging heavy objects. Just a small nail would have solved the problem.

·        We have plastered over the original fixing points for several accessories ( hat rack etc) that were attached to the original brick walls. These will now need to be re-drilled and fixed, but doing so may damage the very soft mortar of the old walls…

·        Our carpenter seems to have fixed the boards of our deck up-side down. The planks are grooved on one side – face up, this reduces slipperiness in wet weather, but face down it reduces decay by providing air to the connection between joist and bearer beneath ( where rot is most likely). In our case, we don’t need the anti-slipperiness feature, as we don’t need to cross the deck in wet weather….

·        We should have kept our painting tools for “whites” and “coloureds” separate … paint rollers in particular come as either white or coloured for just this reason!

·        We have several times relied on our tradespeople for advice and insight superior to our own, believing their experience to be … well, more than ours! However, this has not always been the case. We have found it  frustrating sometimes to pay substantial costs but end up with a less than satisfying outcome, when just a little more insight might have produced a better result. 


A Few Good Ideas we stumbled on ….

·        Use a white or pale colour on your roof to reduce summer heat

·        Provide the shortest practical access between the laundry and the outside clothes drying area

·        Use your broad eaves to dry washed clothes in showery weather

·        Install a simple diverter mechanism ( about $20.00 worth) below your laundry outlet, with connection to a diversion hose. Install the diverter mechanism carefully to operate it most easily !


Using eaves as cover for clothes drying, safe from any showers  ….





Our designer, Jack Metcalf in Adelaide


Passive Solar Heating http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/fs45.html


Insulation Guidelines for Australian regions http://www.yourhome.gov.au/technical/pubs/fs47.pdf


Adelaide & Rural” Second hand building supplies ( Wingfield) -


Handypine  at Welland for new timber – friendly service, exhibition of wood products, wide range of samples available to take home.


Solver paints ( ask for 10 – 15 % discount on substantial purchase)


Redecorate ( Magill Rd) – high quality re-used curtains & carpets at  a fraction of new prices