Design options

The Design For Place house plans are for an adaptable single storey house suitable to a wide range of Australian climate zones.

The design has been tested and modified to achieve a 7 star rating from the Nationwide House Energy Ratings Scheme (NatHERS) in major climate zones across Australia—often with only a minor change to the window type and eave size. Modelled with the base specification of aluminum-framed single, clear glazing—the design ranges from 6 to 7 stars around the country.

Individual specifications and suggested improvements are provided for each climate zone. These detail suitable construction techniques, insulation levels and materials appropriate for the location. Options also include three different facades to suit your personal preference or local neighbourhood design.


Street view of Facade 1


Street view of Facade 2


Street view of Facade 3

Achieving a high star rating

Heating and cooling can account for a majority of the average Australian household’s energy use. The Design For Place energy efficient designs are designed to improve comfort and reducing running costs associated with heating, cooling and lighting over the life of your home. The floor plans are available to download for review and discussion with your energy rater or designer.

  • The plans have been modelled to fulfil performance standards in a range of climate situations and vary from typical building and insulation options to improved energy performance options. The performance variations between different cities show you the impact of climate specific responses.
  • The NatHERS modelling demonstrates achieving a 7 star design in all areas of Australia including the tropics and cool climate areas. Achieving this rating is affordable and achievable by following the guide for the climate most similar to where you are building.
  • Use these modelling results to discuss your options with an accredited NatHERS assessor. This process should be done early in your own design phase to give you maximum flexibility and ensure your design complies with minimum energy efficiency standards. Good planning is the key to a successful design process.

Design options

The flexible functional floor plans are available in two size options: 3 bedroom plus study (total floor area of 194m2) and 2 bedroom plus study (total floor area of 169m2) both include a single car garage. The design features a large main bedroom with a generous WIR and ensuite, an open plan living/kitchen area with cathedral ceilings, and bathroom and laundry—see the full design features.

Some possible adaptations are outlined below:

  • The house is designed for a medium-sized block of around 545m2 but could work on smaller or larger blocks.
  • Both floorplans could easily be amended to include a two car garage or add an additional carport depending on your block layout and requirements.
  • In both the 2 and 3 bedrooms options, the generous-sized study could be used as an additional bedroom if needed.
  • Orientation has been given key consideration. There is extensive glazing to the bedrooms and living areas to the north with the design easily mirror-reversed for street access to the west or east. Keeping the living areas of this design facing north in temperate or cool climate locations, is critical in keeping the dwelling cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • An option for tropical and sub-tropical areas includes the addition of a 43m2 covered outdoor living area. This is directly accessed from the main indoor living area to provide additional shading and an outdoor living space. This area has been modelled for its contribution to energy rating in tropical climates but not drawn in the existing plans. This feature would need to be added by your designer to meet your particular requirements.
  • The dramatic high ceiling in the living area could be made into an additional feature, by using a ceiling of Hoop pine plywood; however if additional expense is an issue the space would also work well with a plasterboard ceiling.
  • Recessed downlights should be avoided if you are aiming for a high energy rating. Even energy-efficient LED lights can create air leakage into the attic space.  Meeting building and fire safety requirements for clearances around downlights is essential. However, the subsequent ‘hole’ created in the insulation barrier results in heat losses and gains not present when you opt for ceiling, pendant or wall-mounted lighting.
  •  As building costs can vary by region, these have not been estimated or factored in. The plans include all the details that a builder would require to estimate costs in your particular area, and also allow for an informed discussion about construction and insulation requirements.
  • The detailed specifications describe possible inclusions and glazing details for your particular area, and whether you are aiming for a 7 or 8 star house design. The impact of different glazing options is shown very clearly in the results.

Construction materials

The design is easily adapted to use a wide range of construction materials available in all areas of Australia. It is important to speak to an experienced accredited energy rater to estimate the impact of any design change in your location.

  • The base design features a mix of reverse brick veneer and light weight construction external walls, a mix of conventional plasterboard and brick internal walls. There are alternate options of solid brick or concrete block internal walls to add additional thermal mass depending on location and local building methods. These options allow for common regional building practices in locations like Perth and Darwin.
  • The design has been modelled with a burnished concrete floor to feature the benefits of thermal mass. It is important to remember that you can use tiles or rugs and runners to soften this type of flooring. However, covering the floor with underlay and carpet or timber would negate the benefit of the slab.
  • The design can be modified to feature a light-weight floor construction. For example, using this design in Hobart with a timber floor elevated 600 mm off the ground, with similar specifications to those listed in the specifications table and including R1.5 under floor insulation and timber double glazed windows, achieves a rating of 7.1 stars.
  • Other modifications for cooler climates such as Canberra include adjusting the deep high northern eave from the standard 1500 mm to 900 mm deep.
  • The outdoor living area added to the tropical design would block much-needed winter sun in cooler climate areas, and any pergola or covered area to the north should have a removable or a retractable cover added to maintain the benefit of winter sun. For tropical areas reducing the amount of glazing is another consideration.
  • Some climate zone specifications have recommended R2.5 wall batts inside the standard 90 mm stud wall. These wall batts are relatively new and many in the industry believe the batts of this rating need to be compressed to fit inside a standard wall. This is not the case as the new product fits the available cavity and is commonly available.


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.