Beam me up

You’ll love this fam­ily’s space-sav­ing so­lu­tions on a semi-de­tached site

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - jen­nifer.veer­huis@news.com.au Pic­tures Willem Reth­meier

It can be hard to imag­ine ways to re­design a semi-de­tached home when a neigh­bour shares one wall. But ar­chi­tect Fadi Fad­hil not only cre­ated an in­no­va­tive semi-de­tached de­sign, he has built a home per­fect for his own fam­ily.

Fadi and his wife bought their house in orig­i­nal con­di­tion back in 2007 and lived there for sev­eral years be­fore de­cid­ing to change it. There were orig­i­nally two bed­rooms down­stairs and two on the up­per floor, al­though the home was quite com­pact.

Fadi says they had been com­ing up with ideas for their home since they moved in, but it was only two years ago that he started work­ing on it in earnest.

Con­sid­er­ing it was a semi, the block the house sat on was quite large at 370sq m, and it gave them scope to in­crease the foot­print.

Tak­ing a wider view

In the end, Fadi de­cided to knock down much of the old house and start again.

“Noth­ing was left ex­cept the front room fac­ing the street, the floor­ing and foot­ings,” Fadi says. “Ev­ery­thing else was re­built.”

That in­cluded re­mov­ing the en­tire up­per floor, which was a con­sid­ered de­ci­sion.

“We started ev­ery­thing again to widen the bed­rooms and we ex­tended the back as well,” Fadi ex­plains. “The roof also had to have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tion, both on the ground floor and the first floor.”

They ex­tended the side of the house by 2.5m and into the back­yard by 6m, as well as ad­ding a 3.5m deck.

Fadi says they wanted a big and open-plan house, so they ar­ranged their kitchen, din­ing and liv­ing space to over­look the back­yard.

The down­stairs level now has a bed­room for the cou­ple’s el­dest son, along with a study,

bath­room and the main liv­ing space.

The up­per level, built from tim­ber, blue­board and tim­ber cladding, in­cludes their younger son’s room and par­ents’ suite. While the back­yard faces west, north­ern sun streams in through clerestory win­dows in­clud­ing lou­vres on the north­ern side.

“In sum­mer re­gard­less of how hot the up­per level is, once you open the lou­vres it takes the hot air up straight­away,” Fadi says.

Heavy metal

One of the most com­pli­cated as­pects of the project was cre­at­ing the steel struc­ture needed to sup­port the home.

The steel starts at the party wall that sep­a­rates the two semi-de­tached homes, and it goes up, tak­ing the shape of the roof, com­ing down at the other side of the house.

“The steel struc­ture is mas­sive, it’s a big span with­out any col­umns at all,” Fadi says.

“I took the de­sign to three or four steel fabri­ca­tors and they said it was too hard,” he says.“I fi­nally found one who took the job.”

The stair­way was also re­placed with a sus­pended ver­sion, which has be­come a stylish fea­ture in the home.

Con­struc­tion of the house took about a year and the fam­ily now love the new light­filled home, in­clud­ing the new deck and swim­ming pool in the back­yard.

“It’s a re­ally good size now,” Fadi says.

The new first floor opens up to the north, let­ting in light and re­leas­ing hot air via lou­vred win­dows.

The stylish bath­room (above) bal­ances light with the need for pri­vacy while ex­ten­sive use of tim­ber beams in the open­plan liv­ing area (right) adds to the sense of warmth.

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