Through the use of lightweight materials, simple alternative design and core sustainable techniques, the complex of 24 townhouses is priced as low as $250,000 – well below the average house price for the desirable West Australian Margaret River region.
According to architect and Light Home design ambassador Peter Jongen, the complex dubbed the Magpie Project was designed with a young market in mind, with aims to give first home buyers access to a price-competitive market.
You can listen to our podcast with Light Home design ambassadors Peter Jongen and Penni Sutton here.
Affordable new homes
Jongen says the project – built by Tate Construction – addresses a lack of smaller, single and multi-bedroom units in the area which has either constricted lower-income earners to shared housing or pushed them out of the region altogether.
“Margaret River is a high priced area,” Jongen explains. “So this was a great opportunity for an architectural firm to put something on the ground that can be specifically marketed at young people getting into the housing market.”
The townhouses were priced from $250,000-$360,000 – some 30-50% below the average house price for the region – and, unsurprisingly, sold off the plan in a matter of weeks.
“They sold in the first two weeks,” says Jongen. “There is a really high demand for this type of accommodation, which I think runs across the state, not just Margaret River.”
The colourful, lightweight construction of the Magpie Project quashes the misconception that affordable means cheap or unsightly development. Instead, it has attracted a diverse range of buyers, from first home buyers and young couples to single parents and investors looking for affordable rentals.
The lightweight timber frame construction allowed the unique design to come into fruition cost effectively, Jongen explains, while also allowing a good level of architectural detailing, which became a significant factor in the marketing of the units.
The Magpie Project is a hybrid construction, meaning it has some masonry elements but the majority is timber framed, Jongen adds. “From a time perspective this gave the developers a cost effective outcome, as they were able to do it a lot quicker than [if they had used] heavy construction.”
The exterior walls are in timber frame, with a high level of insulation and a combination of painted expressed joint Scyon™ Matrix™ cladding and fibre cement sheet materials. Internal walls are insulated timber frame lined with plasterboard.
Cost effective building
The major saving in construction of this development came from the use of lightweight materials, which allowed progressive construction. That resulted in reduced build costs through a shorter construction period plus less overheads throughout the build.
Jongen adds that the adaptability of the lighter materials on the wood frame also slashed costs, meaning the unusual shapes were produced both time and cost effectively.
“If you were doing these kinds of shapes with masonry, it would be a lot more expensive and take a lot more time,” he says. “Speed of construction means the builder spends less time on site, which means lower overheads.”
On the sustainability front, core environmental considerations implemented throughout the Magpie Project played a major factor in the end user affordability of the townhouses.
Each of the 24 houses has a northern orientation, which minimises the artificial light required. Moreover, good stack and cross flow ventilation, Marmoleum-covered concrete floors as thermal mass and large window overhangs all mean less energy is needed to heat and cool the space – resulting in major cost savings for the end user.
While most ‘plug in’ sustainable technology is cost-prohibitive on this kind of development, solar hot water systems were also used to further reduce energy consumption.
These core design features have been afforded to all 24 townhouses to successfully create an attractive, affordable, and sustainable housing development.
To see more details on the Magpie Project, visit the Tate Constructions website.
Project: Magpie Project
Architect: Willcox & Associates
Builder: Tate Construction
Featured material: Scyon™ Matrix™ cladding