Building Materials

While brick is seen as a relatively traditional, dated look, panelled and composite looks are seen as fresh and contemporary. A similar trend is taking place in New Zealand, with combinations of exterior cladding materials, including panel products, monolithic fi nishes and James Hardie Linea® Weatherboards being used to create a new, distinctively New Zealand architectural style, that is appropriate to the often harsh coastal environments.

It’s the sort of development that the vice president of Architectural Designers New Zealand, Fraser Gillies, supports wholeheartedly. “Gradually more architects and designers are realising the importance of accommodating their environment, in terms of design and materials,” he says. “They’re beginning to rate products for environmental characteristics – their sustainability in the Australian or New Zealand climate – rather than purely due to how they look.

It’s part of a ‘big picture’ that’s seeing local designs favoured over ones borrowed from overseas but don’t suit our lifestyles.” The move towards environmentally-friendly homes is also gathering momentum. So much so, that in the future Caroline Pidcock believes every Australian home will be given an annual environmental rating to help people understand their impact on the environment. “People will compete to have the most sustainable buildings,” she says. “Our concept of personal success will be inherently connected to how sustainable we are in our lives as a whole.”

Which ultimately means building and living in houses that are a refl ection of the sort of lifestyles we strive to lead – ones that are sustainable, healthy and, above all, enjoyable. Armed with the right advice and knowledge, the home you build or renovate can be all of these things. You just have to know where to start. ■ * New Home Buyers Survey conducted by independent photos: Getty Images company Market Equity in April/May 2004.