Green is growing

This week in the news, we look at what makes Australia’s best sustainable houses so good; first home buyers gather as investors drop away; and the factors causing stress in your home …

First home buyers gaining strength

Lending lifted again in July, according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show that the number of commitments for owner-occupied housing finance rose 0.6 per cent in trend terms. Lending rose 2.0 per cent for both the construction and purchase of new dwellings respectively, and 0.3 per cent to buy established dwellings.

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Best sustainable homes recognised

A distinctive butterfly-shaped roof for optimal solar penetration crowns the winner of this year’s HIA Australian GreenSmart Home award.

The stunning 10-star home by Victorian building company The Sociable Weaver is designed to maximise energy efficiency, with a reclaimed internal green wall, recycled brick walls and even a recycled concrete pipe installed as a kitchen bench feature.

We take a look at some other winners and the features that make them excel...

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Rental affordability improves: REIA

Housing loan affordability has declined but that’s not deterring buyers, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) announced this week.

The latest Adelaide Bank/REIA Housing Affordability Report found the proportion of median family income required to meet average loan repayments has increased by 0.2 percentage points to 31.4 per cent. For renters, though, affordability is improving...

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Time to stand

It’s easy to remain desk-bound for hours, even though we know it’s not good for our health or spine; but a new Cloud-connected desk could help with that.

The Live OS System by Yves Béhar connects furniture pieces, such as fixed-height and sit-to-stand desks, to the Cloud and acts like a fitness tracker for your desk.

The app monitors how long you sit or stand and reminds you not to stay in one position too long. It also memorises a person’s preferred sit-to-stand desk posture and can adjust back to that position when the user taps the module.

Is your home stressed?

Who among us hasn't complained at one time or another about the stress we're under? Yet our homes suffer silently in the face of constant stress.

It isn't work, deadlines, or family finances that cause problems for our homes, however. Rather, it's the weather and the environment. Even common conditions like strong sunlight, rain, and fluctuating temperatures place stress on our abodes – and on the exterior paint that protects them.

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This house could grow on you

Many people enjoy mushrooms, but we imagine few would be inspired to build a home resembling them. Not so US architect Terry Brown, it seems – and he placed it in the middle of cookie-cutter suburbia!

Built by Brown as a teaching tool for his students at University of Cincinnati, the so-called Mushroom House was constructed between 1992–2006, using warped shingles to resemble the underside of a mushroom. The bulbous shapes and textural orange staircases enhance the funghi effect.