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