Renovations and additions can add a lot to the house, but require good planning, efficient design and the well thought through choice of Brisbane home builder. Most local government bodies have policies for planning, which permit minor internal and external changes without approval which don’t change the fundamental structure services, but it is always safer to check. Some of these policies also apply to tenants who have the approval of their landlords. Some building owners may be prepared to share some of the expenses on sustainable upgrades because they will result in increased property values in the future. However, even minor renovations are likely to require workmen, so they should be asked about current licenses and insurance policies and terms of any contract. Standard contract forms are available from building industry organizations.
Thermal comfort can be improved by the home builders in the process of the renovation. Windows or glazing can be replaced with high-performance units suitable for the weather conditions and the retrofitting of double glazing to timber windows which are going to stay should be seriously considered. In the refitting of sashes, air seals can be improved and double glazing can be emulated with the use of polycarbonate films attached magnetically during colder weather. They can be removed and put into storage during the summer months. Windows facing east and west should be reduced in size or located elsewhere and suitable adjustable shading should be installed. Solar access to glass facing north can be improved by pruning trees which are blocking the solar access. Heavy drapes touching the floor and walls on either side can be installed to prevent heat loss in cold weather.
Regarding thermal mass, home builders will advise the removal of carpet or other covering for insulation on slabs and their replacement with tiles or polished concrete so that thermal mass is exposed in locations where this is desirable. It should also be installed in rooms which have too little and are exposed to the effect of passive heating and cooling, such as dark colour sealed water containers. Ventilation and air movement can be improved by retrofitting windows and doors which catch the breeze, creating new openings and designing landscapes to direct breeze through the house. Ceiling fans can ventilate the roof in summer and be sealed in winter.
Home builders will improve insulation by replacing halogen lights pointing downwards with low energy lights and installing sealed heatproof boxes (available from electrical retail shops), which allow insolation over them without any risk of fire. Insulation can be added to sections of the floor, the wall and the roof and these sections can be reused in the event of demolition. Consideration should be given to installing a foam insulation layer under paving around the house so that there is no heat loss from the surface of the ground and higher temperatures can be maintained.