The new building ‘nitty gritty’ stuff



This area I have left largely to my very competent better half who knows what he is doing… . Having an engineering background he thoroughly enjoys working out quantities, measurements etc – something that does not appeal to me at all. He also likes to adhere as far as possible to the KISS principle   ……….  keep it simple stupid   ……… along with good quality fairly priced gear.

Solar photo voltaic  system

Why? We are looking for (1) no power bills (and we do tend to use a lot of energy!), (2) it has a feel good factor both real and intangible, and (3) we assume that the price of domestic power in WA will continue to rise at (or more likely well above) the rate of inflation. A small feed in tariff rebate is there (still, I think), but is the icing on the cake and doesn’t drive the decision.

We have decided on a very good quality 5 kW inverter (Sunnyboy), which is the max allowed in metro Perth area domestically, with a total of just over 8 kW of very good quality (REC) PV roof panels. These will be arranged in 3 arrays – each facing east, north, and west – all on a pitched roof which happens to be ~ideal for this application. (Actually a combination of thinking/planning for solar and a bit of luck!). Net cost installed about $12,000. That array will suit the inverters capabilities well, I am assured by the supplier/installers.

The government(s) keep yapping about abolishing support for renewables, if that occurred we would seriously re-think as it would add about $6000 (or circa 50%) to our capital cost…..having said that we have ‘signed up’ so if there are any rule changes they should not be retrospective….will they, would they..?!

The system should generate – averaged over the whole year – about 35 kWh per day. During summer this would be about 40+ kWh per day (max ~50), and during winter about 24+ kWh per day (min 22). These are approx. numbers, the supplier has site specific and thus hopefully accurate modelling.

Air Conditioning –

We deliberated on this one for a while as we currently have two evaporative systems which are very effective most of the time (viz its ‘only’ hot when dry easterlies blow…but not always!) and very cheap to run – but in the end we wanted to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and be assured of year round comfort when needed with cooling and heating too.

So we went for a ducted reverse cycle system, using Actron (an SRV203 system, 8 zones, 14 outlets). It has the best heating and cooling energy efficiency and zone control flexibility by far (my better half’s opinion!), is very good quality, and it is growing a great reputation – plus its an Australian company. The total system installed, including best rating thermal rating ducting and wifi control etc, was about $21,000.


This is being built by A1 pools  – they were recommended by our builder and we had a meeting with them and liked what we saw. My husband prefers businesses that are ‘hands on’ and have low overheads and no nonsense.  The pool should hopefully start in the next month or so after the GF roof and render is on. We left enough access down the side for the pool works and ongoing gardening general access purposes.

We wanted a swimming pool that we could actually swim in…sounds Irish doesn’t it?!….and comfortably year round as far as poss.

So – accepting the usual space/budget constraints – we ended up with a 12 m x 2.5 m concrete lap pool with steps at one end and a 3 m long water feature wall in the centre. Depth 1.2 to 1.8m. Pretty straightforward compared to many pools!

A fair amount of time was spent visiting different pool shops, displays and display homes to decide on what we wanted. This included the pool equipment/pumps/filter etc – final decision is to have a sand filter with a salt chlorinator, as good as bullet proof system as you can get. The theory with filter cartridges and chlorine dosing etc for swimming pools is fine but the practice is not the same. We’ve got lots of experience with all types of pools (and spas) all around Australia, so feel ‘qualified’ to pass judgement! The pool equipment/supplier industry abounds with bulldust and harry hopefuls…bottom line is there is no idiot proof system, but we reckon that sand with salt is the best combo. Salt is lovely to swim in to boot.

The interior of the pool will be done in Rainbow quartz Hawaii Blue 50%  although I am quite tempted with the Pacific Blue – any prefrences? quartz colour range

Rainbow quartz Hawaii blue
Rainbow quartz Hawaii blue


Rainbow quartz Pacific blue

Pool Solar blanket

This was a ‘no brainer’ for us if you want a long comfortable swimming season, and it all but eliminates evaporative water loss. We were quoted on an S 8 Series blanket with a roller and will be installed in a blanket box which is really a bench seat at one end of the pool.


Pool Heating –

Again, aiming for a year round swim if poss without breaking the bank on energy and complexity. (KISS). Solar pool heating panels will go on the 10m long north facing skillion pool pergola roof – which will cover much of the pool. Realistically the 2-3 mid winter months might be a stretch for comfortable swimming temp, but we are ok if that is the situation. Could always just toughen up I guess!  Looked at various gas/electric/thermal powered pool booster/heating systems, but they just look like expensive, energy gobbling ‘toys’ that will not last and be maintenance intensive (i.e. $$)…to us anyway. We like swimming, but actively avoid direct sunlight where possible….we have a covered (solar heated) pool now and it just makes perfect sense for us, and others who use the pool during the day…e.g. grandson and family.


Now we wait ……………….. GF roof is due to start next week.



4 comments on “The new building ‘nitty gritty’ stuff

  1. Deb, I’m going to pass all this on to my “very competent better half” because you lost me at “voltaic”! It sounds like you have a good handle on it all. As for your pool colour options, I think they are both great. You’d hardly note the difference if they weren’t pictured together.

  2. Wow you sure have done a lot of research! Great info about the solar, I confess I haven’t done a lot of research on that yet. We’ve salvaged a 1kw system from our old place but will be extending at some point.

    Re air con, we’re planning on toughing it out for a year and then working out our requirements.

    • Re air con, I think we are just getting soft in our old age Trixee!
      We did enquire about moving our current solar system (similar setup) to the new place but wasn’t worth it for us.

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