House designs

Design For Place offers sustainable, energy-efficient housing designs — free to download. The architect-designed suite of plans are a significant resource for anyone planning a new home.

North elevation view of a Design for Place house

Energy-efficient design 

Design For Place comprises a set of floorplans and elevations for a single storey house and comes in three different versions depending on your block size. The architect-designed suite of plans showcases the use of sustainable design principles for domestic home design and construction. It includes specifications and construction techniques for a range of climate zones across Australia designed to achieve a minimum 7 star Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) energy rating.

Additional single and two storey designs suitable for a range of block sizes and climate zones may be added to the Design For Place suite in the future.

To get started you can download the Design For Place brochure or watch the introductory video.

What are the key features of Design For Place?

  • Architect-designed house designs and plans that achieve a minimum 7 star NatHERS energy rating through sound planning and design methods.
  • Practical design elements that can be applied to improve the average quality and energy efficiency of current mass-market housing.
  • Learning opportunities on the fundamental principles of designing for climate, orientation and livability.
  • Flexible information that can be tailored to meet the needs of your specific project.
  • Accessible and easy to understand information, plans and energy rating results to illustrate key design principles.

How can I use Design For Place?

All of the material associated with Design For Place is free and publicly available for use. The sample house designs are examples only and the designs and associated information can be used as:

The street view of facade option 1 which has no eaves on the street side
  • Ready-to-use or modify house plans to suit your block and orientation.
  • A concept plan for your own design brief for an architect, designer, draftsperson, or builder.
  • Design elements that you can incorporate in your own house design.
  • Background information on the key principles that should be considered in the design of any home.
  • A general guide to the differences in construction specifications that should be considered in different climate zones.

NOTE: You will be asked to agree to the terms of use when you download the plans. Please also read the full disclaimer so you are aware of all the terms and conditions.

Why is Design For Place important?

Design For Place is all about achieving maximum livability and comfort for your home through design that is responsive to your situation, climate and block orientation.

By taking advantage of natural lighting, cross-flow ventilation and heating and cooling opportunities that can be built into your home at the outset, you can save on ongoing energy costs for many years to come. The functional floor plans provide flexibility to allow you to adapt spaces to your lifestyle and changes to household composition over time.

Current mass-market housing in Australia generally does not provide locally appropriate design. Construction techniques tend to be similar irrespective of location or climate zone, and often little consideration is given to orientation. 

The street view of facade option 2 which has overhanging eaves

This can lead to housing outcomes that rely heavily on mechanical heating and cooling, have little or poor connections to exterior open spaces and ‘token’ inclusions to achieve energy rating regulations. In addition, floor plan layouts are often inefficient with room sizes and shapes that reduce flexibility in furniture arrangement and functionality.

More rooms are often squeezed in than are necessarily required as a result of the perception that the house needs to respond to ‘market needs’. As a result the running costs to heat, cool and light these homes is higher over time, as well as less responsive to household and lifestyle changes.

How can Design For Place help me?

Design For Place:

  • Shows how locally responsive design can reduce the energy needed for heating and cooling of your home, reducing or even eliminating reliance on heating and cooling appliances and their ongoing running costs.
  • Lists key sustainable design principles that can usefully apply to all home designs to improve average energy efficiency and livability.
  • Demonstrates how simple design techniques can provide good access to sunlight and shade when required.
  • Provides sample floor plan layouts that illustrate ways to have the majority of living spaces facing north where they can take advantage of natural light.
  • Includes sample floor plans that illustrate how to use repetitive construction techniques, such as standard sizes for wall frames, for a more efficient and economical build.
  • Presents sample elevations and cross-sections to demonstrate how the floor plan layouts can be turned into buildings.
  • Provides a sample of the local requirements for insulation, glazing quality, and construction relevant to each climate zone in Australia, sufficient to achieve a 7 star NatHERS energy rating.

How do I get started with Design For Place?

It is important to carefully consider your living requirements so you can make informed choices and get the best use out of Design For Place for your project.

The street view of facade option 3 which has a gable roof.
  • Start by considering your needs, including mapping out likely changes to your lifestyle and household configuration. Take into account factors such as caring for elderly parents or kids leaving home, so you can balance the various functions your home will need to fulfill over time.
  • New home buyers need to consider how they would make use of specific features. Weigh up whether opting for more space will pay off for you and your household. Rooms such as a media room or a second dining area may be largely left unused and add costs to heat, cool and furnish. In many cases a smaller but more livable, flexible space, is more practical and can cater better to your needs long term.
  • Factor in your climate and energy needs. While having greater upfront costs to build than a typical project home, incorporating all or some of the design principles showcased here can allow your household to reduce ongoing energy costs over years to come.
  • If you are considering a project home, some of the features of this design, including the northern orientation of both living areas and bedrooms, could be discussed with your builder and accommodated to improve comfort and efficiency of your home.
  • Review the Design For Place specifications and talk to your builder, architect or designer about how you can use the principles, plans and energy performance ideas to build a more sustainable, efficient and livable home.

Building with Design For Place?

If you decide to build, adapt or use Design For Place for your project we would like to hear from you. We are keen to collect your stories, pictures and videos to share on the site—and hope to provide options to interact with other users building with Design For Place soon.


The plans may need modifications to comply with local government requirements. They represent one option for achieving a 7 star NatHERS rating and other designs or materials may give similar or better performance.

More detail is available on the Disclaimer page.

The Design For Place house plans and content are only available on this website and are not featured in the Your Home book.