Episode 03: Renovate vs rebuild – and a 2022 lookout

In the last episode of 2021, we discuss the environmental pros and cons for renovating vs rebuilding a home.

Then we go into a little reflection of what the year has been like for us, and we make some very exciting announcements to look out for in 2022.

Happy Holidays and happy new year!

Episode Transcript

Sandra

All right, last podcast episode of the year, thanks for taking the time, Anthony.

Anthony

Not a problem at all. Thank you. It’s my pleasure.

Sandra

I thought we’re gonna start this episode off, I know, we kind of want to take a little bit of time to reflect on what this year has been like, what’s to come for the next year, all the exciting new things that we’re going to tease a little bit for the next year. But first, I wanted to take some time and answer a few questions that we’ve gotten on Instagram. We put out a question sticker, and we got a few questions from people. I thought we might end up doing this a little bit kind of on the regular for our next episode. So whenever you have questions, feel free to just send them to us on a regular basis, and we’ll address them in one form or another. Yeah, let’s dive right in into the first question.

I think this is going to be one that’s interesting for a lot of people, as there is a current trend or a divide between renovating versus rebuilding, so tearing the whole building down and building a new one. And one of our followers on Instagram wanted to know if there are any better environmental choices when it comes to either one of those. Like, which one is better, looking at it from an environmental perspective.

Anthony

Yeah, it is very much a hot topic at the moment. I read a statistic the other day that said that we sort of already have 80% of our housing stock that we will have by 2050. So you can definitely see the appeal of, you know, renovating, trying to, you know, keep this existing housing stock and use it. But I mean, you’ve got to arm yourself with the knowledge, I think to best understand what your decision should be on that particular home or building. And a great start to that is we’ve touched on in the past is to sort of get the team together for an initial consult, being the builder, designer, and hopefully, you know, hopefully not, but if necessary a structural engineer, just to give a bit of feedback, or report back on what the structural integrity of the home is. And if it’s still able to be used. Obviously, if it’s in a really bad way, then that alone may warrant the house being removed and then rebuilt as opposed to renovated. The other really fantastic thing you can do to get a baseline, or to better arm yourself with knowledge to make the decision, is to do some air tightness testing, and a thermal inspection using a thermal camera just to see what’s happening behind the walls and insulation wise, etc. And with that information that’ll also, you know, be able to tell us like, what state is this home in performance wise, and if it’s salvageable, I guess, or if it can be retrofitted or renovated to a state for it to be energy efficient moving forward. And again, if it’s not, it really is that point where it would be cost prohibitive to renovate or retrofit this home, then yeah, again, that may be another reason to remove the home and build a new home that will perform that way. And that way we’ve got this house that now will be multi generational and, you know, be performing at that level moving forward into the future. So yes, a couple of things there. Just to recap: I’d definitely get some consultants in, and I would definitely do some testing that would be my recommendation and then with that information, you should be able to make a preferred decision on what’s best for that particular home?. To renovate? Or to knock down and rebuild?

Sandra

Yeah, I think it’s a good first starting point anyways to collect the data, and then be able to really make a proper decision based on facts. Yeah, so get those consultants in. If you have any more questions about that, feel free to reach out to us as well. Definitely something we’ll be focusing on a little bit more in the new year. But we’ll talk about that a little bit later on. Yeah, and another topic in question that we got is around Passivhaus performance in tropical areas. So how does a passive house perform? Are there any recommendations for passive houses in tropical regions? What can we say to that?

Anthony

Yeah, well, again, this is something we’re looking into a lot as we have more inquiry in far north Queensland. And we’re really excited to delve into this because it’s kind of the opposite spectrum for us, we’re very much working predominantly in heating dominant climates, and we want to go to a cooling dominant climate and see how we can get Passivhaus to perform there. So a bit of a caveat, I know, but I might just say, stay tuned for that one, because we’re going to delve into that a lot more and provide some of our findings from that with Passivhaus in the tropics. I am aware of a couple overseas in similar climates, such as Miami, Florida or something like that. I’m also aware of a few that haven’t gone for certification in far north Queensland, but are bloody close to being where they need to be there. So they’re currently under construction. So we’ll keep our eyes on that and provide some feedback at a later date.

Sandra

Yeah, great things to come, just collecting more data and more evidence on it. And we’ll definitely get back on that topic for sure. Maybe even do a standalone episode. Who knows? At some point in the new year, once we have more information and comparable insights? Yeah, definitely an interesting topic.

Anthony

Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a good idea. I think maybe we could put together a standalone episode.

Sandra

All right, let’s get back into the fun part of this, at least for us, which is, at the end of the year, obviously everyone kind of takes some time and looks back at. Yeah, what the year has been like what you’ve achieved, kind of what the milestones and the highlights have been throughout the year. And I thought it would be a fun thing, obviously, for us, because I think it’s important to celebrate your achievements. But maybe also for our listeners, just to kind of get a little summary of what our year 2021 has been like. Yeah, just have a little chat about some business highlights. I know we’ve gone through a big renaming process or a rebranding of some sort of the business. We went from Sunday Studio to Outlier Studio now. So yeah, that’s been a big step, I reckon. What are your thoughts on it?

Anthony

I feel like we’ve flipped the entire business on its head. And we started again. We wanted to better align with what we were about. And we found ourselves constantly being I guess, the outlier in the industry. We are pushing in this direction, towards Passivhaus. And just overall just, you know, highly energy efficient, comfortable, healthy homes. And we’re finding ourselves out there on our own a lot of the time in that journey. So it just rang true. We just wanted to be that outlier. And we are happy to be that outlier. And, you know, proceed with that. So it was a really big deal to do that. And I am sure there are still some people out there cursing me when they try to send an email through to the old email address that bounces back. But yeah, no, the greatest thing we could have done because it allowed us to be honest with ourselves and be truthful with what our intentions are in what we want to do. So we now can be open and up front, transparent in our approach to what we want to try and achieve in the Australian climate. And it’s been a hell of a ride since. We’ve got some absolutely amazing clients first and foremost, because without you, this wouldn’t be possible. We also have the most amazing team now, we’ve had a few additional team members join us this year. And you know, the outcome is exactly what you’d expect when you’re working with amazing people and really passionate people, and everyone’s working towards this outcome.

Another thing that we’ve adopted this year is we now have on every project a building consultant engaged from day one of the design, so for that initial site visit with our clients on site, we’ve got the building consultant with us. And that has been revolutionary. We’ve been able to actively manage the budget and ensure that it aligns with the design that, you know, we’re all working towards creating and right through that pre-construction process. That relationship it’s just fantastic. It’s the only way we’ve been able to say that we can give you the best possible outcome on your home. So that’s been exciting to have adopted that as well. We’ve also had our first certified Passive House beginning this year. So that’s yeah, it’s a really big deal for us, obviously, because that was the whole rebranding part of this. And that’s well underway now. And we’re looking for a construction start in the near future, which we will keep everyone posted on. And speaking of construction starts, we have our first design with the hybrid home principles starting construction in March, April, as well. So watch this space, we’ll be documenting that heavily. And we’ll also be testing it heavily. As part of our, you know, our new ventures into this niche of the industry. We want the data, we want to be able to test, we want to be able to blower door, we want to be able to inspect with thermal camera imagery, and make sure that our homes that we’re working on and designing are performing as we say they are. So yeah, next year, we’re going to roll out the Outlier research division, which will you know, we’ve got our own in house blower door testing systems and thermal cameras for that thermal imagery. And yeah, we’ll be able to provide air tightness testing and thermal imagery inspections to ensure that it’s all doing as it should, and you know, we’ll be able to do it on existing homes to provide that service as well, just to see where those homes, you know, how well they are performing and provides consultancy on how to improve that.

Sandra

Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re referring to in the first question. If you’re thinking of, or if you’re hung up between, should I renovate? Should I rebuild, just tear it down? The first thing is to get the data in and get the people in, who can give you some insights and some foundation to make a good decision. And one of those things is get someone in to do a blower door test, to do some thermal imagery, to go around the house and see where the leakage is. Where’s insulation missing? And then we can make a really founded decision and say This makes more sense for this house. Or maybe we can save some with renovating. Yeah, that’s a really, really big step for us to kind of branch into that region. Because we really, I think that’s one of the biggest thing that happened with the Outlier rebranding. I know it’s just on paper. But it’s definitely been a little bit of a mindset shift, I think we want to be able to prove what we’re saying. We are not happy with just doing what everyone else is doing and just hoping for the best. It’s not that we hand over a design to the builder, and we’re just not involved anymore, we’re very heavily still motivated to provide the best possible outcome for everyone involved. That includes just making sure it performs in real life just as well as it would perform on paper.

Anthony

Yeah, exactly right. And I suppose we’re all for certified Passivhaus. I love the fact that we can guarantee through PHPP analysis of certified passive homes, we can then guarantee that that’s what you’re getting as a built home. But the reality is that not we’re not every home can realistically be built to the certified Passive House. So you know, the hybrid home approach is just under that, and we’re still providing that ability to test and ensure that, you know, it’s performing to that benchmark that we’re setting. So yeah, if anyone wants to get in contact regarding an audit on their existing home. Yeah, by all means, please do get in contact. And yeah, maybe you might be the first cab off the rank come for the start of year 2022.

Sandra

Yeah, we’ll definitely see some more info on that, for sure. Coming the new year on our socials, on our website, we’ll be providing all the information you need. And please do get in contact, if you want more information, or if you want to start the auditing process. We’re very keen to start this and yeah, just make sure we have a lot more better, healthier homes out there.

Anthony

Absolutely. You know, with just coming out of the restrictions of COVID, to everyone being working from home. A little creative idea that Sandra and I’ve worked on is, we realise that we have very limited capacity to do projects every year, we’d like to do smaller amounts because we have an expectation of this quality that we want to provide to clients. So to be able to provide that further, we’ve been working on a little course, which is based around the hybrid home method that we’ve talked about. And we’re super excited to be able to yeah, it’s been an absolute labour of love and again just pure passion from Sandra myself to create this course and we can’t wait to share that with you early next year. We’ll certainly promote that a bit more moving forward and give some more information on that. But yeah, please stay tuned. If you’re interested in a self-guided course that might be able to provide you with the information to achieve a high performance home. Then stay tuned.

Sandra

Yeah, watch this space. We’re so excited about this one, it’s been a long time in the making. It’s still in the making. We’re still not 100% finished, but we’re getting there. And it’s been, as Anthony said, an absolute labour of love. We’re very passionate about it. And yeah, we hope it helps a lot of people out there and kind of kickstarts this whole process of building a new home, building a good home for the future, for yourself. So that’s one of the biggest things to come from our side in the new year, I reckon.,

Anthony

Oh absolutely. I mean, there’s so many exciting things. But that is, yeah, I cannot wait to share that with everyone. And really most importantly, I just hope that it’s able to help so many of you out there that you know, really want to have that option to have a better performing or environmentally friendly home. So yeah, looking forward to that immensely. And the other thing, I suppose, one of the intentions of this course is to eventually start changing the regulations. To having an impact on our legislators mindsets, and to eventually have legislation change to improve the current state of building in Australia. And we have a project that we’re going to be using as a very amazing case study towards that, which again, we’ll be documenting and providing more information to you all out there. Again, really, stay tuned for that one, because it’s a pretty big deal. There’s a lot of very intelligent and very passionate people involved with that project. And wow, yeah, just thought provoking stuff, like really amazing. And, yeah, that will also be announced more in the new year.

Sandra

Yeah, definitely. I get excited, again, just talking about it. Because I know all of these things, they mean the world to us. They’re super important from our point of view, to push forward and to really put our foot down and put in the hard work. And it’s not easy work, especially wanting to potentially change legislation or have a positive influence or open that conversation even. It’ll take a long time. It’s not done just in a year or in a couple of months. But we need to start at some point. And I think we’re ready. We’re going to start next year, we’ve already started, we’re going to officially put it out there and push for this and get you guys some more information on it as well. If you’re interested, or even want to get involved, the more people who are pushing this, the better. But yeah, we’ll definitely provide some more information on that come the new year. So we’ve got a lot of really exciting things to come your way. Definitely watch this space, watch our socials, watch our website. We’ll put all the information you need to know out there eventually.

Yeah, what a great way to kind of wrap up this podcast. And this year, I can’t believe 2021 is already over again, still feels like last year was 2019. And 2020 just hasn’t happened. But I guess you have to see the positives in it all as well. I think it’s provoked a lot of mindset shifts for a lot of people, a lot of change, and definitely a lot of motivation to keep pushing and keep going.

Anthony

Yeah, it’s easier when you’re passionate, that’s for sure. But I just want to take this moment just to recap on the year and just say a massive thank you to everyone in the industry that has helped me or mentored me in some way. And those experts out there that really go unappreciated. And that’s a big thank you to all of you out there in the industry that have paved the way for us as well. And for those coming through with us. So for those who will, you know, debut soon enough, I’m sure. A big thank you to yourself, Sandra, of course and the team here at Outlier, without the team and yourself this would not exist. So just a massive hug. And thank you for that. And a big thank you to all the building consultancies and consultants that we have out there as well and associated teams there and trades. Amazing work. And yeah, big thank you to all our families and friends as well for the support because there’s certainly some times where we push the boundaries with these commitments. So yes, thank you, Eleanor and Daisy. I very much appreciate it.

Sandra

Wonderful. All right. I guess it’s time to wish you all happy holidays. Happy New Year. And yeah, well, I guess we’ll see you in the next year.

Anthony

Stay tuned everyone. The exciting stuff is yet to come. So 2022, here we come.

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