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The Perfect Prefab Home in South Gippsland

Sustainable Homes

With Australia’s construction and demolition industry producing over 20 million tonnes of waste a year (30 per cent of the country’s total waste), the value of prefabricated construction cannot be underestimated.

Among home owners who have adopted this method of building are Michelle Dixon and Chris Miller, who own a house in Bena, South Gippsland, made by Prebuilt and designed by Pleysier Perkins.

This sustainable home (affectionately known as the Cubby House Farm) is the family’s weekender, where you’ll often find them relaxing on the north-facing deck with their children and guests.

11th February, 2020

Michelle Dixon and Chris Miller’s home in Bena, South Gippsland. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Kimmy Hogan Hand Wash and Hand Cream. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Views are provided from every room of this house. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

As you walk up to the windows, you get a sensation that the house is levitating, as you cannot see the ground below. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

This a prefabricated home made by Prebuilt with architecture by Pleysier Perkins. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The double sided fireplace is Prebuilt’s favourite feature of the home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The interiors are calming spaces as not to compete with the outdoor landscape. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Whether you’re laying on the daybed window seat, sitting at the dining table, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, one can’t help but stop, stare, and take a little moment to get lost in thought in this home. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Owner Michelle Dixon loves the daybed with its views of the rolling hills  at sunset. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

By using prefabricate construction for this home, the amount of building waste is minimised. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Cleansing Hand Wash and Cleansing Hand & Nail Cream. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The bathrooms feature highly detailed timber joinery created by Prebuilt’s cabinet makers. Sukin Micellar Cleansing Water and Revitalising Facial Scrub PhotoEve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sukin Natural Balance Shampoo and Conditioner. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The deck has large panels that can be slid to offer privacy and shade to the house as desired. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Many a family gathering has been hosted on the home’s deck! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The floorplan of the house was carefully considered to offer a solar passive design with an extensive northern verandah. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The house’s simple, rectangular form that neatly integrates into the luscious and rambling hills of Bena. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Amelia Barnes
Tuesday 11th February 2020

As you make a left from the main road into Michelle Dixon and Chris Miller’s long gravel driveway, it takes a second to realise the scale of their home. With its simple, rectangular form that neatly integrates into the luscious and rambling hills of Bena, South Gippsland, it’s almost as if it’s been dropped from the sky. In a way, it has.

This home was created via prefabricated construction – meaning it was factory-made before being transported and installed in sections on site. Given the relatively isolated location of the property with limited access to local trades, a prefab home made sense for Michelle and Chris. This carried the added benefit of minimising construction delays (due to the controlled environment), and allowing any material waste to be stored in the factory for later use. The Prebuilt factory this particular home was built in runs off a 97kW solar array, further adding to its green credentials.

Michelle and Chris’ house is one of Prebuilt’s custom projects, designed by architects Pleysier Perkins. The brief was to create a high quality ‘farmhouse’ as a weekender for the family and their regular additional guests.

The design draws on modernist design principles, with a low, single-level profile that Nicole O’Reilly, residential sales manager at Prebuilt, says ‘aims to sit quietly in the landscape, rather than making any grand design gestures.’ The left hand side of the house is built into a hill, so you immediately feel elevated from the ground when you enter. This is most noticeable in the living area, where a floor to ceiling window frames the landscape like a picture. As you walk up to the window, you get a sensation that the house is levitating, as you cannot see the ground below. It’s quite a feeling! The main bedroom shares the same illusion, with a corner window offering a 180 degree view of the incredible landscape.

The floorplan of the house was carefully considered to offer a solar passive design with an extensive northern verandah. This deck features large panels that can be slid to offer privacy and shade to the house as desired. Another impressive sustainable feature are the two 23,500 litre water tanks concealed under the home. This is connected to a tank of the same size near the shed, and there is another 10,000 litre tank reserved for CFA firefighting.

Light fills the main living space, with views from every angle across the landscape. Whether you’re lying on the window seat, sitting at the dining table or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, you can’t help but stop, stare, and take a little moment to get lost in thought.  ‘We love the whole house, but our favourite feature would probably be the day bed’ says Michelle. ‘It has amazing views of the rolling hills to the south and extraordinary colours of pinks and purples in the late afternoon at sunset. If you look the other way you can see right through the house to the most beautiful old manna gum to the north.’

From the living area, the house extends to a wing with the children’s bedrooms (for Max, 13, Indigo, 11, and the couple’s former foster child Jaime, 24, who lives with them on and off), guest rooms, another bathroom, and study off the hallway. The size of this hallway is wider than the standard size, enabling space for a bookshelf extending across its entire length.

While this house is only a weekender for the busy family, they have fully leaned into the South Gippsland lifestyle, getting to know the community and local farmers. It’s a place they can get stuck into gardening, growing veggies and spending quality time together, all with the lightest touch on the landscape.

Australian skincare company Sukin do everything they can to ensure our environment is protected. From partnering with Reef Aid to ensure the Great Barrier Reef has a future, to fully offsetting their carbon footprint. Discover the world of natural, and read more about their sustainability efforts at the Sukin Journal

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net