En­ergy ef­fi­ciency cru­cial

Pilbara News - - Property - Dianne Gil­le­land

Our new home is al­most com­plete, but the builder wants us to se­lect awnings or screens for some of our win­dows that were not part of the orig­i­nal plans. The cost of the screen is quite high, but the builder in­sists he must in­stall them as they are re­quired for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. Are they nec­es­sary?

When six-star en­ergy ef­fi­ciency was adopted in WA in 2012, it was a big step from the pre­vi­ous five-star com­pli­ance re­quire­ments, of­ten re­quir­ing ad­di­tional in­su­la­tion of walls, ceil­ings, and floors, high per­for­mance glaz­ing, and ad­di­tional shad­ing of win­dows.

Our love of open-plan de­signs and lots of light in our home means that cal­cu­lat­ing com­pli­ance with the min­i­mum six-star re­quire­ments is more dif­fi­cult with smaller homes with smaller win­dows, and zoned liv­ing with walls and doors cre­at­ing con­trolled spa­ces.

Six-star has in­creased the cost of con­struc­tion, but wel­comed the end-user ben­e­fit of a more en­ergy ef­fi­cient home — when used ef­fec­tively. By not in­stalling the re­quired screens, your home will not be com­pli­ant with the ap­proved plans and min­i­mum six-star re­quire­ments.

The builder can­not lodge the re­quired no­tice of com­ple­tion to the coun­cil with­out in­stalling the screens or awnings, as he has not com­plied with the ap­proved plans is­sued with the build­ing per­mit.

The op­tion for your builder is to lodge a no­tice of ces­sa­tion, which ad­vises the coun­cil the build­ing is in­com­plete and at what stage the con­struc­tion ceased, mean­ing you will need to ob­tain a sep­a­rate build­ing per­mit to com­plete your home com­pli­ant with all ap­pli­ca­ble build­ing stan­dards.

The two op­tions mov­ing for­ward are:

■ You have the screens in­stalled, as per your ap­proval.

■ You have the en­ergy-ef­fi­cient com­pli­ance of the de­sign re­viewed to see what other de­sign in­clu­sions may pro­vide the same size-star out­come with­out the screens.

Be­cause most homes are as­sessed us­ing ther­mal cal­cu­la­tion soft­ware, the build­ing works holis­ti­cally to achieve the re­quired ef­fi­ciency rat­ing.

This may be over­come with ad­di­tional ceil­ing in­su­la­tion or higher-per­form­ing glaz­ing (which might be more ex­pen­sive op­tion than in­stalling awnings at the stage).

The ap­proved plans for your home would have been ad­justed to meet the re­quired build­ing stan­dards (thus in­clud­ing the awnings, not part of the orig­i­nal de­sign) and will in­clude the de­tails of the per­son that com­pleted the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency re­port.

Dis­cussing your home with them in the first in­stance will give you an idea of why th­ese screens were re­quired, and what other op­tions might be avail­able.

If you choose to pro­ceed with mak­ing the changes, a new as­sess­ment is re­quired, and your builder will need to up­date the doc­u­men­ta­tion orig­i­nally ap­proved by the per­mit au­thor­ity (coun­cil).

It is im­por­tant to note that any changes to the fab­ric of the build­ing such as in­stalling a pa­tio, re­mov­ing at­tach­ments, or mod­i­fy­ing the open­ings (win­dows and doors be­ing re­moved or made larger) of a build­ing con­structed af­ter May 1, 2004, may im­pact its com­pli­ance with en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and will likely re­quire as­sess­ment and ap­proval.

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