How An Architect Built This Breezy Home For $260,000

When architect Joshua Duncan set out to build a home in a suburban development 10 minutes outside of Busselton, Western Australia, he wanted to make it a point of difference from its neighbours.

With a budget of $260,000, Joshua’s aim was to showcase an alternative to the traditional layout of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, that was both well-designed and ‘financially accessible’.

Using simple materials like external metal cladding and plywood walls, Vasse House is breezy and adaptable, and enveloped by a sprawling native garden!

Christina Karras

Vasse House, designed by Joshua Duncan Architect.

The house is made up of two ‘pavillions’, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms spread between them.

In contrast to some of the neighbouring homes in the residential development, the abode takes up just 141-square-metres of the 469-square-metre block.

The veranda channels spatial and aesthetic ideas drawn from the Japanese engawa (the traditional Japanese veranda) and architect Kazuo Shinohara’s elevational ‘first style’.

The house aligns to the north using strong passive solar principles, giving each room generous access to light, fresh air, a veranda, and a view of the sprawling garden.

A native garden starts at the kerb and makes its way up to the building line, continuing between the two pavilions and linking the public street and private garden with a permeability unusual in residential estates.

The interiors were kept pared-back to stay within budget, with floors made from exposed concrete, and walls by structural grade construction plywood – lightly sanded and clear oiled.

Just like its neighbours, Vasse House features two living rooms separated by a block wall.

‘In-built cabinetry was stripped back to a minimum, which had a significant impact on both the budget and adaptable planning of the dwelling,’ Josh says.

The kitchen, living and dining room are positioned in the centre of the house.

External cladding is metal sheeting in a variety of profiles and orientations – with a metallic Zincalume finish rather than being painted.

It’s a cost-effective and subtle take on the traditional suburban home.

Christina Karras
19th of June 2023

Vasse, WA/Wadandi Country

Vasse House by Joshua Duncan Architect is located in a sandy residential estate about three hours out of Perth.

The fast-growing development is filled with properties that often consume 75 per cent of their block, with two-car garages, theatre rooms, and inefficient floorplans that push the living and alfresco to the rear, no matter the orientation.

Joshua took the opportunity to create an alternative, that was still comparable both in cost and amenity, keeping within a building budget of $260,000.

‘The house was designed to respond to the generic brief of the local residential suburbs — typically a detached three or four-bedroom house with two bathrooms — but to do so in a way that supported changing living arrangements and flexible occupancy,’ Josh says.

He designed two ‘pavilions’, each with two bedrooms and a bathroom, connected by a large central living room. This clever sense of separation allows the bathrooms to be used by a household or used as private ensuites.

‘At the moment I live in the west end of the house and run my architectural practice from the street-facing room, while a housemate rents out the eastern bedroom and bathroom,’ Josh explains.

The 141-square-metre house is also enveloped by a sprawling native garden. Every habitable room has a glazed sliding door which opens onto the veranda inspired by the traditional Japanese engawa, ensuring the spaces are light, bright, and breezy, with garden views.

But the build was ultimately an exercise in restraint. Simple forms and conventional construction materials, including concrete slab flooring, walls made from lightly sanded plywood and prefabricated roof trusses all helped keep the building cost down. The external cladding was built from a variety of metal metal sheeting, while the built-in cabinetry to a minimum, which had a ‘significant impact on both the budget and adaptable planning of the dwelling’.

Josh says the resulting Vasse House proves that a ‘well-designed and financially accessible house is possible, even in the context of a standard residential estate’.

‘The project draws from a variety of pragmatic, aesthetic, and spatial references, combining these influences to create something positively Western Australian – a relaxed house of shaded refuge, with prospect over a narrow veranda to a native garden.’

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