Quentin Irvine’s house stands out in Beaufort. It is one of only a few two-storey houses in town and is quite possibly the only one with a full steel frontage.
It’s a cool spring day, but stepping inside, the unheated house is surprisingly warm.
Quentin opens the back and front door to let air flow through.
He explains during Beaufort’s cold winter days, the house remains 16 degrees inside without any heating, thanks to sustainable design elements.
The house is unique not only to Beaufort, but may be the only of its kind in Australia. As far as Quentin knows, it is the only house in the country that is completely recyclable.
“The whole house is designed around the concept that there is no waste in nature, so why should humans have waste? It is the idea about designing waste out of society,” Quentin says.
Watch the video below.
Quentin designed and built the house himself, with the help of his building company Inquire Invent and some tradesmen in Ballarat. To the surprise of some, it is built at a cost accessible to most homeowners.
It was built for around $380,000 – and that’s the cost for a one off. Quentin explains the price would drop dramatically if built in volume.
“It is fairly similar to the cost of a normal building. There are elements that are more expensive and elements that are a lot cheaper, so it evens out more or less,” Quentin says.
“It was more expensive to build this than a Metricon home and a lot cheaper to build than an architecturally designed high end home.”
There is no reason why we have to build crappy houses.Quentin Irvine
But that doesn’t account for the costs Quentin has saved on electricity or what he says is an improved quality of life.
“It is amazing what difference it makes not having to turn on heaters and have lots of fresh air in your home and not have all the chemicals that come with the paints on a normal building as well. It is a pleasure to live in.”
Quentin explains the sustainable design elements on a tour of the house. It is clear so much thought has gone into every single element to ensure it can be recycled.
It follows basic sustainable design principles.
It has lots of windows to the north, not so many to the south and is one room wide which makes it easy to flush hot air out on a cool night.
There’s a shade sail that goes up in summer and solar hot water.
The recyclable elements is where it gets more technical.
The floors and walls of the staircase are made from recycled oregon wood from roofs of demolished houses. It has been re-machined to remove old lacquers that would not be recyclable.
Galvanised steel is used for the wall lining, waterproofing and bath in the bathroom, with stainless steel trays for the floors.
Quentin says bathrooms in most homes are usually not recyclable because layers of glue make the materials inseparable.
“In a normal bathroom it would all go to landfill, whereas you demolish this and get a bunch of firewood for fuel and maybe $100 from someone who wanted to buy the scrap off you.”
The floor is cement sheet. All walls are screwed to the studs and made of old style plasterboard which doesn’t have fibreglass in it.
Quentin says the walls can be taken off, crushed up and spread on fields as soil improver. He says sustainable and recyclable design elements should be taken on by all builders.
“It’s big business that get to decide if what they do is positive or negative for human lives and the environment. It would be awesome to see big companies adopt some of this.”
The house is now available to be booked on Air BnB. Quentin and his family are planning to build another recyclable house in Creswick, and he plans to build more recyclable homes through his building business.
Quentin’s message to others who are interested in creating a recyclable house is that it is ‘doable’.
“There is no reason why we have to build crappy houses. There is nothing here that is crazily more expensive than what the volume built houses have.”
And he says the change will need to be business rather than consumer driven.
“There is nothing on offer right now. If consumers have the choice between two products, they are roughly the same price and one performs better and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling because you know you are doing the right thing for the environment, you’re going to pick the warm fuzzy feeling.
“It has just got to be on offer.”
Quentin’s home will be on show on Sunday as part of Sustainable House Day.
Visit sustainablehouseday.com/ for full details and more houses in the region.