Bilinga House, in Tweed Heads, sits on a plot that faces east and is built around old frangipani trees that Mullins was in no way prepared to chop down.
Light Home design ambassador Shane Denman picked the impressive project as his latest choice to profile, thanks to the clever tricks Mullins used to build a practical, eco-friendly family home – on a budget.
Bilinga House is built back-to-front: the living areas are upstairs and the bedrooms are downstairs.
The upstairs open plan living room, dining room and kitchen, with a bridge linking across to a family room, are all orientated to the north-east. The entire house is built around those pretty frangipani trees.
“It is designed to pick up the view, the sun and the breeze beautifully,” said Denman. “It was not an ideal orientation, but Jim dealt with it beautifully.”
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Many features are built into the house to make it green – and therefore cheap – to live in.
There is a two-storey void that faces north-east, allowing the sun to enter the house and heat up the concrete floor which, in turn, distributes that collected heat throughout the house.
Having the living areas upstairs makes the most of the rising heat during the cooler months, and the breezes when it’s hot.
“The orientation of the house makes the most of the passive breezes,” commented Denman.
Rainwater harvesting was installed, enabling the washing machine, toilets and garden irrigation and cleaning to all use collected rainwater.
Other eco features include solar panels on the roof, natural gas for water heating and cooking, and heavily insulated walls.
A lightweight home
The whole house is lightweight in its design, with the only exception being the ground floor concrete slab.
“It’s beautifully detailed,” said Denman. “The articulation of the external elevations, with the recessing panels and windows, for example, and the textures with the HardieFlex™ cover strips throw beautiful shadows. The house is one colour, but gives the feeling it’s painted with two or three colours.”
He explained that it was only through using lightweight materials that Mullins got the results he did.
“If you used heavyweight materials, you would have to put extra materials in to achieve the same result,” Denman said. “It would be a lot harder and a lot more expensive.”
Bilinga House was built four years ago to a budget of $330,000.
Explaining how the costs were kept low, Denman said: “90% of the external house is HardieFlex cladding, detailed beautifully. The external timber adds a bit of cost. But the windows are standard size wherever possible.
“The site was flat, so easy to build on. As much as possible, it’s standard shelf materials. The finishes inside are modest, but beautifully detailed.”
Architect: Jim Mullins, interior architect and designer
Project: Bilinga House
Location: Tweed Heads, Queensland
HardieFlex™ sheet with timber batten cover strips
Soffits HardieFlex™ sheet with timber cover strips
Villaboard® lining on all wet area walls
HardiePanel™ compressed flooring on all wet area floors