Nola’s Story

Meet Nola Wright a mature age Dromana resident who wanted to build a sustainable energy efficient forever home. We originally interviewed her as a participant in the recent Peninsula Voice Climate Change Forum – here is her story…

Nola began planning to build a solar passive, sustainable House in 2017 after she discovered and was inspired by Australian magazines, Green, Sanctuary and Renew. Nola then started to attend the openings of sustainable houses. She visited The Cape, a sustainable estate at Cape Paterson where she discovered the design and building company that she then went on to engage.  The Sociable Weaver is a Melbourne based company, which is named after a South African Bird that builds a nest for life, it is the first company in Victoria to offer both certified passive design and build services.  

“I loved their work and their ethos”.  

Nola’s advice to anyone building a sustainable home, “Do your homework and find a design/builder that you can talk to easily, that can explain things to you in a way that you can understand”.

In 2019, Nola had her first meeting with The Social Weaver,  

“My brief included retaining some feeling of the old home, maximizing the use of space, and I wanted to design a place for a mature age me to hopefully live independently for as long as possible. This would include wide doorways, oversize bedrooms and shower recesses, non-slip floors, zoned living, easy-to-clean spaces and easily maintained. AND all on a modest budget. I managed to do that with a number of compromises on finishes and materials but I did not compromise on the aspects that were vital to solar passive design. I can upgrade cabinetry or other internal features and furnishings at a later date if I choose”.

“I chose the option of working with their architect on an individual design (and loved being involved with that process).  I learnt how designing proportionally can save cost and waste”.

The build itself took just over 6 months and resulted in a 137sq. 3 bedroom/2 bathroom single level home (the house frame is strong enough to be extended up or out if desired). Built on a waffle pod slab,  all windows and doors are double glazed, thermally broken, fully sealed and weather stripped. There are ceiling fans throughout. Solar provides 6.6Kw. Includes an electric-induction cooktop. The home’s star rating is 8+.

“It works in every way I hoped – hottest recorded temperature was internally 26.5℃ and lowest 15.6℃. Throughout the majority of the year the temperature sits at a comfortable 20℃ .I use hardly any heating or cooling although I do have a split system installed”.

Nola’s top tips when building a new house or retrofitting your old one:

  1. ASPECT – of your house, if you  have lived on the site you become aware of its benefits/ problem areas and work to maximize those.
  2. GLASS QUALITY – makes a huge difference.
  3. INSULATION-  everywhere including window fabrics.
  4. AIRFLOW- positioning of windows/doors/ ceiling fans.
  5. EAVES – to maximize/ minimize sunlight in different seasons.