Beating the heat - and rising energy prices - in a luxury property
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Beating the heat – and rising energy prices – in a luxury property

Temperatures can exceed 40C in Sydney’s west but everyone keeps their cool in this resort-style home

By Robyn Willis
Wed, Jan 18, 2023 12:06pmGrey Clock 4 min

 The owners of this property in Sydney’s outer west never set out to be environmentalists. And, at first glance, the sprawling luxury home they built at Twin Creeks at Luddenham does not appear to be eco friendly. But appearances can be deceiving.

When they approached building designer Luke Van Jour at Distinct Innovations, they wanted a resort-style home befitting the spacious greenfield location at the golf course estate. A large, wraparound pool would be at the centre of the design for the single level home, along with three entertaining areas, an outdoor cabana and home theatre. This would be in addition to four bedrooms, a guest room and a study.

With about 4,000sqm to work with, there was plenty of room to move so the owner decided to include a spacious home gym. He also wanted a half size tennis and basketball court to round out the leisure options – and to fulfil a childhood dream.

“The client had a tough upbringing,” Van Jour says. “When his parents were not around he used to go to the local basketball court to shoot hoops, so including a basketball court was about bringing back some of those positive childhood memories.”

With a healthy budget to work with, Van Jour was tasked with creating a resort-style experience, with a wet bar and water wall next to the outdoor kitchen, all in a single level design so that every day would feel like a holiday for the family.

“The client had spent a lot of time travelling the world,” he says. “When he came home, he wanted that same feeling that he experienced when he was staying in hotels and resorts overseas. Everything had to be wrapped around this pool.”

In keeping with the luxury theme, Van Jour specified several home automation options.

“It’s a key part of this house,” he says. “You can turn on the aircon, warm up the coffee machine, open the garage doors. It also has security and biometric systems.”

With all the hi tech, it might be easy to miss the lengths Van Jour has gone to in order to design a house which is a little easier on the environment – and the owners’ bank balance – than you might expect of a building this size.

“I designed the house to block as much sun in summer as I could and bring as much winter sun into the

house as possible,” he said. “The whole house was double glazed and full passive design. It is brick veneer on concrete slab-on-ground with stone floors to allow for optimum thermal mass.”

There’s also a 8kw system of photovoltaic cells to cut down on energy bills, and rainwater tanks that hold up to 100,000L for washing clothes, topping up the pool and watering the garden. 

“Without the solar panels, if this house had to run on standard electricity, it would easily be $7000 to $8000 a quarter but now it is about $2000 to $3000 a quarter,” Van Jour said.

However, it took a little while for the owners to get into the swing.

“When the clients first moved in, the bill for the first quarter was close to $10,000,” he said. “The owner asked me what was going on. 

“In Luddenham, it gets down to -2C in winter and up to 48C or 49C in summer but when I went over, he greeted me in shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of winter.”

As it transpired, all the thermostats had been set to 28C and both the reverse cycle air conditioning and the underfloor heating had been turned on. There were also four large screen TVs running 24/7 and the pool pump had malfunctioned so that it was running day and night when it should only operate four hours a day. After turning off the aircon completely (it was installed mainly for cooling the house in summer), resetting the temperature of the underfloor heating, fixing the pool pump and only using the TVs when there was someone in the room, the bill dropped almost 80 percent the next quarter.

The house took 18 months to build, which is relatively speedy for its size. Now, the family enjoys a resort lifestyle while reducing their bills – and their impact on the environment. When it runs well.

“We did all the right things but if the house is not operated properly, it’s a waste of time.”


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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The suburbs where we’re building the most new homes

Amid a national housing crisis, these are the home building hot spots

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, May 28, 2024 2 min

Australia is in the midst of a housing crisis with supply challenges and demand pressures leading to a clogged pipeline of unfinished new home builds and approvals per capita languishing at decade-lows. There aren’t enough tradies to finish the homes under construction in normal timeframes. Meantime, construction costs have risen by 40 percent since late 2019 and contributed to dramatically higher insolvencies among building companies. High interest rates and lengthy approval processes have also prompted some developers to shelve plans for new projects altogether.

All of these challenges mean the National Housing Accord, with its ambition to build 1.2 million well-located homes over the next five years, will begin shortly amid very difficult conditions. However, the Federal and state and territory governments have agreed to the plan and plenty of money was allocated in the recent Federal Budget to get the program officially underway from 1 July.

Meanwhile, the Housing Industry Association (HIA) has published a report revealing the areas that are in line to receive the most new homes soonest, based on the value of approvals during FY23. The HIA has paired this data with population figures to identify the growth hot spots across Australia.

HIA economist Maurice Tapang said the top 20 hot spots for new approvals and above-average population growth were predominantly suburbs with greenfield developments. These developments require state governments to fund and build supporting infrastructure such as power lines, sewage and water pipes, roads and footpaths to service thousands of new residential lots.

“This is testament to the role that greenfield developments play in supporting the growth of our cities,” Mr Tapang said. “The drivers of housing demand are population and economic growth. Supporting population growth will require supplying adequate homes, which will entail providing the necessary infrastructure and land supply to grow our cities.

“As the high cost of the typical house and land package in some of our capital cities becomes out of reach to the typical income earner, it is important for policymakers to facilitate the supply needed to fill housing shortages. In order to build the Australian Government’s target of 1.2 million homes, there needs to be a healthy balance between greenfield and infill developments to support building well-located homes of all types.”


Australia’s top 6 home building and population hot spots


Box Hill – Nelson

In NSW, the top new home building hot spot is Box Hill – Nelson in Sydney’s Hills District, with $597 million in approvals and population growth of 26.5% in FY23.


Fraser Rise – Plumpton

Fraser Rise – Plumpton in Melbourne’s west was Victoria’s biggest growth hot spot, with $660.1 million in approvals along with 26.4% population growth.


Marsden Park – Shanes Park

 Located in Sydney’s Blacktown area in the western suburbs, Marsden Park – Shanes Park booked $370 million in approvals and 19.7% population growth.


Tarneit – North

 Located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Tarneit – North recorded $384.3 million in new home building approvals and 18.9% population growth.


Rockbank – Mount Cottrell

Also in Melbourne’s western suburbs, Rockbank – Mount Cottrell had $593.4 million in approvals and 18.7% population growth.


Chambers Flat – Logan Reserve

Chambers Flat – Logan Reserve in the City of Logan, south of Brisbane, was Queensland’s biggest growth hot spot with $264.6 million in approvals and 18.4% population growth.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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