Things we didnt think of …..


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Easy topic to describe, proved expensive, time consuming and difficult to resolve !!

Insect screens …Doors and Windows… and blocking of vents.

First were the windows they are metal framed and hinged in the middle with the top opening, issue I had was when you open the window the bottom swings outwards which pushes on any fixed screen we would attach and leaves a 10mm gap for “attack insect” ingress.


So after an experiment on the best way to fix a screen I came up with double sided Velcro



I have had to leave a small amount of excess screen to the bottom to account for the out swing of the window. We have had one summer and other than fixing a couple of screens its worked well.

Also not shown in this picture are the covers of the vents in the wall (you can see the inside and outside of the vents in the two pictures above), we had to block these as they let in so much heat and cold, I used an A4 sized sheet of perspex and a tube of clear silastic, problem solved, sealed the outside of the vents. On to the doors….

These proved difficult to say the least, ending up the most expensive screen doors I know of. I will add a picture now so you get an idea of the amount of work it involved.


A new door jam had to be made for all 3 doors and then for the front door, two wooden screen doors were made to suite the new door jam. This picture is before I added door hardware, they still need to be painted which i will do soon. I’m not 100% happy with the result, ill paint them soon and see if they worked better then but currently they change size and get stuck in rainy weather.

You can see in the above picture we mad a cross of the middle supports and the plan is to paint these a contrasting color to the white door behind.
















The Bathroom …..


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The scope for the bathroom was to have a country feel, with if possible, a claw foot bath, shower, old fashioned pedestal basin under the stained glass window, taps to suite and of course a toilet

The room which we chose to put the bathroom in is on the Northern side of the church in a 3 by 3 meter room, its not quite square as the door into the church is on an angle cutting off the corner of the room, the other issues we had were, it has an external door in the room, a non opening window and it was where to old electricity box was cut into the masonry wall.

There are no cavity walls in the church they are all solid masonry and cement rendered… How to get wiring up into the ceiling and water pipes to the shower hot water from the solar system on the bathroom roof, etc. We solved all this by building a wall in a cut out behind where we placed the shower.


Not a good picture but you can see the wall going all the way to the ceiling, which hid all the electrical cables, water pipes to the hot water system and we were able to use this for the shower taps.

We left the original cypress flooring and placed the fiber cement sheeting on top and then topped this with 50 mm  of sand cement as a bed for the one piece shower floor and tiles, all up the height of the bathroom and laundry floors is 70 mm higher than the original wooden floors. I did this to try and prevent the tiles from cracking if/when the floor moves.

Lyn mean time on Ebay was able to find an old fashioned looking pedestal basin with a tap set, and for a small amount extra they gave us all the bathroom accessory’s to suite, small amount being $20 ! In the end we got, for not much more than $120

  • Shower taps
  • Vanity taps
  • Two double towel rails
  • Shower shelf
  • Toilet roll holder
  • Pedestal Vanity

The pulse side to this was, a Kohler pedestal basin worth $475 Brodware vanity tap set worth $384 and shower tap set, no idea the worth but you get the point. I found the costs out when I was looking to match the bath taps with the shower and vanity, Brodware wanted over $1600 for the matching bath taps !!!!

The down side was, be careful of what you get, we were missing the hanger for the basin to attach it to the wall, I had one made up by a local metal shop for $100 and while it worked, it made the installation more difficult for the poor plumber, you can see the small gap behind the basin in this picture which is now filled with white sealer.


This picture shows it under the window, the glass gives all the white fixtures a golden glow in the sun.


The next picture shows the tiles on the floor before the carpenter, yes the carpenter did the floor tiles, cut the tiles that needed cutting. It also shows the shower floor in place. The picture is taken form the door leading outside.


The next picture is the finished tiling be fore the fixtures are installed, this picture is taken from the door leading into the church


This picture shows the toilet bowl is in place and the plumber sorting out the soft close lid hinges and how to fit the water tank. This picture also shows where the old electrical box was cut into the wall, leaving a large hole that again the carpenter rendered for us. Well you cant see that because we have finished the wall.


Next shows the detail of the taps for the bath, we still need to fit the edge tiles to the wall. I cant remember the name of the bath tap manufacture but they closely matched the shower and basin set and only cost $600


This next picture shows the shower screen installed and the shower taps before the wells 3.5 star 9 liters a minute shower head is installed…


And the final couple of pictures shows it all finished


We are very happy with the final result, we have added a mirror on the wall and a couple of small cabinets for storage…

The Fireplace



When we purchased the church it already had installed a Nectre Baker’s Oven in the room that is now our bathroom. The previous owner had installed it himself and it leaked every time it rained.

The goal was to install it at the southern end of the dinning area after we had extended the floor.

The Nectre Baker’s Oven has the firebox at the top and the oven below. Heat is directed around the oven by closing the damper located next to the flue outlet on top of the stove.

Primary air is provided via an adjustable spindle located on the front of the firebox door, while secondary air enters via an inlet at the top of the door seal allowing the air to ‘wash’ over the glass door keeping cool and stopping it from getting covered in soot.

The Secondary air gap at the top of the door is adjustable to a degree, some people complain that they cant seal the firebox off because of this gap for long over night burns. But its there to stop the fire from producing to much smoke from lack of oxygen, I have adjusted ours to the smallest gap I can get and we do have hot coals left after an over night burn.

One issue is the temperature gauge on the front of the oven door is about 50 to 75 degrees cooler that the middle of the oven, so a internal temperature gauge is needed to use the oven.

The other issue we have its its a small fire box, we use logs of 12 inches in length not the town standard 16/18 inches to the annoyance of our wood supplier and good neighbor Noel  🙂

Details are 

  • Smallish firebox with a controllable output of between 5.5kW and 8.5kW. For very cold weather the output can be pushed to over 10kW when not cooking.
  • ‘Indirectly’ heated oven. Flue gasses evenly heat the oven on all sides using the bypass damper
  • Hotplate above the firebox for a wide range of cooking temperatures from simmering to very hot.

We are happy with it so far, as this is our first winter in the church ill keep you posted as to how well it dose. Our neighbors have noted that we produce very little smoke and I haven’t seen much other that a few minutes after we light the fire. So far we haven’t used it much for cooking but we plan to now we are using it everyday, ill keep you posted on how well it dose.


The flue had to go up over 4 meters to pass through the ceiling, we then used the manufactures standard of an extra 1 meter above the roof as clearance as its no where near the crown of the roof, its proving to have excellent draft


Part 2 of BASIX compliance…


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I’ll start by saying that this process is broken, its 17months since I did part 1, I have learned so much about BASIX and have come to the conclusion that they really have this BASIX process wrong.

They add a cost to converting an existing building, that in the country makes it not worth the cost; we won’t recover the cost of BASIX additions to our building, both the extra spent in planning and the actual cost of compliance.

Whist I’m on my soap box, BASIX for our development, heating and cooling loads make no sense to me, The loads that I had to achieve were 110 for heating and 55 (165) for cooling, with no modification the church was heating 233 and cooling 51 (284). *all numbers are MJ/m2year

The building was only a NatHERS star rating of 2.54

To put these numbers into context, BASIX say that we can live “comfortable” in the church in summer with no modification, but we would use twice the amount of energy in winter to be as comfortable as a “new dwelling”

What a total load of rubbish, I challenge anyone from BASIX to live here in summer with no air conditioning, and this is addressed to the chief scientist at the NSW department of Planning

“Baradine is in the Pilliga, lots of excellent hardwood for heating, its renewable and cheap. Electricity isn’t cheap, in summer for cooling, we use on average 20kw’s  and our winter average for electricity for heating is 0kw’s”

The story continues, To recap BASIX wanted us to add insulation to the roof cavity, the walls and under the suspended wooden floor. Ok I have humanised the BAISX group, but I felt they made it personal.

First I applied for a total exemption to the Thermal Comfort Protocol based on the following issues

1: The ceiling doesn’t have a cavity over two thirds of the space, only one third has cavity access for installing insulation, to add insulation over the entire roof space would mean taking all the roof sheeting off and as its 70 years old would mean replacing it, also we would need a roofer that has a special “working with heights” from Workcover. The nearest one being in Dubbo, 2 hours away.

  • So a very high cost. due to location.
  • We would have to replace it with galvanised sheeting NOT zink, expensive and very damaging to the environment and more expensive.
  • Unable to change the external look of the building due to heritage value a new roof looks like a new roof

2: The walls are double brick no cavity and unable to line the internal walls to add insulation for the same reason. Unable to change the external look of the building due to heritage value

3: Only partial access under the floor, would have to pull the floor up and replace, expensive and as the wood was a community donation has a heritage value.

The council got their heritage officer to write a report backing up what we were asking for which they was also sent.

We gave BASIX the unaltered heating and cooling loads, and waited for a response.

and that was;

“The predicted annual heating load shown on the assessor’s certificate is high. It appears you have not insulated the roof or floor. Have you considered this? Have you also considered some upgrading of glazing (such as installing double glazed windows)? To achieve a pass in Thermal Comfort the building would probably need to achieve at least 4 stars in BERS. To achieve that rating the building would need to have a predicted annual total energy load no higher than 176.

Ok, did you actually read what we were asking for??? So round 1 they have given me an “allowance” of 11 extra MJ/m2year.

I ask our ABSA assessor is there any way we can meet this, even with insulating the roof and under the floor he says no,

I’ll let you know that every time I call him to make an assessment run it costs me $

I respond with the same exemption out lined above and added pictures to the issues we have with the roof, walls and floor…

We wait for the next response

“We have the plans and photos and so on that you sent through, thanks. Attached is also a heritage form that needs to be completed and signed by you and the heritage officer at Council. Once received we will take a further look into this development and see what options we have for improving the efficiency of this building and speak with the heritage officer on appropriate measures.”

Sigh, “and so on“, thanks for that.

I tell them the council has already sent this to them, I attached my copy which is unsigned and wait a response

“We have been trying to contact Council’s Heritage consultant (have rung 4 times and left 2 messages) but notwithstanding, if you would like advance consideration of this assessment, can you provide us with a BERS assessment for review that includes adding insulation (foil + R 3.0/R4.0?) to the roof as a minimum? We just need to work out what options we have and what differences there would be with the roof insulated and not. If you can ask your assessor to provide the above and forward to us, that would be great.”

Before I ask the ABSA assessor for this, I point out to BASIX the issue with doing this as exemption point number 1, the response was short ad curt

“Hi Troy, Where the entire tin sheeting would be removed and insulation layer underneath. Thanks again.”

Ok, I can see where this is going; the ABSA assessor did say he didn’t think we would get a full exemption, More $ and I ask for a run with the BASIX request.

Send this off and get

“In order to continue with this and reach an agreement going forward, we would require that the entire roof space (under the existing metal sheeting) be insulated, thus improving the thermal comfort score, which will in turn have a positive impact on the energy score as well (as per Bers pro screen shot you sent through). The energy score is achieving a slightly better result than required but we are using this over compliance in energy to help counter the Thermal Comfort, therefore no changes can be made to the energy section that will result in a score drop. If you are happy with insulating the roof, can you please request the assessor that he produces a full report and forward to us so that we can see that the insulation is as we agreed. We anticipate that the Heritage Architect/Officer will have no issue with this agreement, however we have still not heard back despite our calls and messages. My last day is Thursday and I am on leave for the holidays and is possible would like to wrap this up before then. If you have any questions, please let me know.”

Happy???? not even close, my response was

“I am not happy with what you’re asking, I would like to call you to discuss but the number on your email is for the help line which is unattended To achieve a pass in Thermal Comfort the building would probably need to achieve at least 4 stars in BERS. To achieve that rating the building would need to have a predicted annual total energy load no higher than 191. Even with insulating the roof space we only achieve 176. I don’t see it as gaining anywhere near enough for the cost to benefit. There are no Workcover qualified roof installers within 200kms of the site, the cost to replace the roof is more that the purchase price of the building and as much as the total spend on renovations and we still don’t meet minimums!”

And he did provide a number, but it was pointless talking to him, it was not negotiable, he did pass our development to the Chief Science office of the Department of Planning, but I didn’t hold much hope.

And the response was as expected


Our senior scientist has had a close look at this project and advises as follows on the stringency requirements regarding this assessment. If you can provide the revised BERs certificate that complies with his assessment, we can issue a certificate under the alternative assessment process.


* Whilst the thermal comfort component of BASIX does have a relation to the energy section, and improvements in building shell performance (such as improved insulation) are reflected in GHG savings in the energy section, the scheme is also designed not to permit the ‘poorest’ outcomes of insulation standards.

* Accordingly, a specific ‘pass’ level is required for the TC section to ensure a minimum level of building shell performance.

* The current heating and cooling caps for dwellings with suspended floor in climate zone 48 are 110 and 55 MJ/(m2.year) respectively. This is equivalent to a NatHERS star rating of 4.24 stars.

* The current building as is can only achieve a NatHERS star rating of 2.54.

*In consideration of the heritage value of the building, particularly the solid masonry walls, we are proposing to provide a concession to the thermal comfort requirements of this project. We are of the opinion that a minimum of NatHERS 3 stars should be achieved by the dwelling. Installation of roof/ceiling insulation should achieve this outcome.

* After the addition of reflective foil sarking and R4.0 insulation to all roofs, the applicant is reported to have a heating and cooling load of 190.2 and 21.8 MJ/(m2.year) respectively. The combined thermal load is equivalent to 3.40 stars. In addition to the concession to the overall star rating, we have effectively made a further concession to the heating cap. Under the concession, we have effectively allowed a heating load of 190.2 MJ/(m2.year) – around 73% higher than the heating cap in the climate zone.

* The applicant evaluated the potential annual energy savings of the improvement the roof/ceiling insulation ($802.00/year) and argued that it does not present a favourable cost and benefit when compared to the cost involved (quoted cost is claimed to be around $ 70 – 80k).

* However, a concession has been made to the thermal comfort requirement compared to the other new dwellings in the area. The concession given is deemed to be fair (both for the building itself and other new dwellings in the same climate zone), after considering the feasible improvements without damaging the heritage value of the building.

Dr. Kevin Yee”


However, a concession has been made to the thermal comfort requirement compared to the other new dwellings in the area

Hey BASIX its NOT a new building !!!!!!! Its 70 years OLD !!!!

So we accepted this and asked for the final run from the ABSA assessor reflecting these additions. Of course it wasn’t that easy; we received our new BASIX certificate and now had to pay extra to the council to do an amendment of the original DA and wait for this to be approved, which it was on the 23rd of December 2011.

This entire process has taken us the full 10 months to get the correct approvals to start the building process.

No thanks goes  said draft-person who ripped us off and provided us with a headache

No thanks goes to BASIX for making us spend money on compliance, that we cant meet. I got lots more to say but wont 🙂

Thanks to the local council, the ABSA assessor and the local heritage officer … They went above and beyond

So what’s the outcome on us to meet BASIX, ill just include the highlights

The entire roof area needs to go to a 20000l water tank which needs to be connected to the laundry and toilets and one outside tap.

We need to insulate the entire roof cavity with sarking under the batons, R4.0 insulation over the ceiling.

We are unable to put in an air conditioner for cooling in summer, only fans…yeah right

A solar hot water system of 26-30 RECS and

A Wood heater for winter

and no grass/lawn…only native low water use garden

After a conversation with the council we were able to sit the water tank on the block behind us as its huge. We would have to have had it in the front garden if not for this concession and we own the block behind us as well.

We do have an air conditioner installed and I will remove it if requested by council at the final inspection and then install it again, which is just completely nuts

So on to the build…. I estimated 3 months of actual work…

Which takes us 12 months to get 2/3’s of the way through !!!!

The first post….but not the beginning of the story



Where to start, so much has happened its difficult to know where to begin. We sold our place at Lake Munmorah, we brought our “church” in the country on 4000 square meters of weeds

Its been nearly a year since we finalised the purchase on the church, it took 7 months to sell the place at Lake Munmorah. We decided to rent while we do the renovations on the church. 3 months later we are still in the rented place (about to be evicted as its been sold) and  all we have to show is a DA submitted to council !!!!! and we have spent a lot of money to get this far.