When Jane Goodall and Christopher Parkinson bought 42 Durack Street in Downer – then a typical Canberra 1960s property – in 2013, they were planning to simply extend the house.
“We fell in love with the beautiful oak trees that line the street. It’s a friendly, quiet neighbourhood but surrounded by lots of good cafes, restaurants and walking trails,” Jane explains.
“We lived in the cottage for about a year before we committed to doing anything. That was helpful to get to know where the sun shines in and get a feel for the block.”
Fast-forward to 2019, and they’re selling a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home, custom-built to passive house design principles and designed by Et Al Architecture. The two-storey house has flowing interiors and open plan living spaces – a far cry from the original home they ended up knocking down.
The question is, how did they get here?
“We had planned to do an extension, but because of where the original house was located – it was set back quite far on the block – we were limited in what we could do. We decided to knock it down and start again,” Jane explains.
It then took nearly two years of working with the architect to get the design and planning right. But Jane says that it was time well spent.
“Our plans changed a lot from the beginning. Originally we were going to do a single storey extension and that’s quite different from where it is now. We’re really happy with how it’s turned out.”
One of Jane’s favourite things about the home now is its integration with the outdoors.
“The original home didn’t have much of a connection to the gardens. The backyard wasn’t somewhere we’d spend a lot of time. Now, all the living areas wrap around the backyard and open up to the backyard with lots of big opening doors and windows.
“We intentionally chose a block that had north to rear, so it gets lots of natural light. This summer we’ve just lived outside on the deck. It’s a really nice way to connect with the outdoors, and we’ve entertained a lot more out there too.”
She says the home is well suited to a family, especially one that appreciates passive design.
“[This home is great for] a family that will enjoy the generous living spaces and separate bedroom level and who like entertaining. We’re not great cooks but the kitchen is a dream!
“We designed it for ourselves, but we hope the next owners will also value some of the finishes and extra details that we’ve added. We focused on things we like to live with, like underfloor heating – even in the shower – and well-insulated, airtight windows. Those are the things we’ve appreciated most about living here.”
Other passive house features in the home include thermally-broken aluminium double-glazed doors, ’tilt and turn’ windows, a construction method that has no thermal bridges, a heat recovery ventilation system and perimeter, under slab and additional wall insulation.
The result is a home that stays cool in summer and cosy in winter. Jane says that the home was comfortable even when the temperature dropped to minus six degrees last winter – no heating required. That’s a huge contrast to the original home, which was not well insulated.
home.byholly’s Holly Komorowski says the home presents a rare opportunity for buyers in Canberra.
“It’s not very often a home of this calibre is available for sale. It looks like a home you would find in Vogue Living! Not only is it truly beautiful, it is also an extremely smart house built with passive design principles in mind,” she says.
While this isn’t the first renovation or extension that Jane and Chris have attempted, it’s definitely the biggest. And it also won’t be the last.
The couple’s next project is a dual occupancy on a Mr Fluffy block in Weston.
“We have all the plans approved and will start building this year,” Jane says.
“One of the homes is a family home, and the other is a smaller home. It’s a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home that’s ideal for an empty nester or an older person who doesn’t want to live in an apartment but still wants to stay in the suburb, that they can live in as long as they like. It’s a bit different.”
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