Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

OBFT: O’Connor House

June 2011

Making a weatherboard house more energy and water efficient

SEE-Change Inner-North went on a visit to a 1962 weatherboard house in O’Connor before it received a serious makeover. Resisting advice to demolish and build a ‘real’ sustainable house, the owner used this opportunity to gather ideas to dramatically improve the existing house, without losing too much of its ’60s character.

The living areas of the house receive good sun on winter days but lose it on dusk through uninsulated timber walls and large windows.  The ‘sandwich’ roof also has inadequate insulation, so the house acts like a sieve. In it comes, out it goes!

The shallow-pitched butterfly roof with its inadequate box gutter seems designed to leak. Serious reconstruction is needed and tanks will be added. A large vegetable garden is underway, so retaining most of the water that falls on the block was important.

Demolition goes against the sustainable goals of this owner, so compromises may be necessary, as well as a sharp eye on the budget. Renovation should not cost more in money and resources than a total rebuild.

Once renovations are completed, a follow-up tour is likely. That won’t be for at least a year…

Image0099-small CockleKitchen-1-small CockleDining-3-small

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government