affordable housing exemplar in perth western australia
Sustainable and high quality housing can be achieved on a modest budget, with Matt Delroy-Carr’s family home serving as an exemplar. Image: Dion Robeson.
  • Architect Matt Delroy-Carr designed WA's first certified #TrueNetZero house.
  • This was achieved while on a modest budget.
  • Benefits of more compact homes include lower build costs and running costs, without compromising on enjoyment or comfort.

A series of affordable housing thoughts and ideas by Perth’s leading architects start with this piece by Matt Delroy-Carr from MDC Architects, with photography by Dion Robeson and styling by Amy Collins Walker.

Creating affordable homes that ‘have it all’ can be a challenge. Striking the balance between a great family home, a budget-friendly home, and a sustainable home is absolutely possible; this was the design brief that MDC Architect’s Matt Delroy-Carr set for himself when he designed and built a home for his young family.

“I wanted to demonstrate that a comfortable and healthy home that reduces its impact on the planet can be achieved on a modest budget as well as using my research to help other homeowners achieve the same goal,” explained Matt.

The home is compact and uses space very efficiently. This helps keep construction costs down but does not compromise on spatial enjoyment and comfort.

matt delroy carr from mdc architects designs affordable and sustainable home
Efficient and great design can lead to both an affordable and sustainable home. Image: Dion Robeson.

He has built an environmentally-advanced house and his process demonstrates that when considering building a home, a low carbon future is possible for everyone.

“There’s less land available to build new homes, and land which is accessible has, over the past decades, reduced in size to accommodate more homes.

“Our perception of the ‘perfect size’ home must evolve and change.”

“We need to be smarter in the way we use space and I think architects are good at doing that because we are trained to look at opportunities and possibilities.

“Reducing a home’s footprint means we can make better use of climate conditions to passively manage the home’s internal environment. You don’t need to give anything up to build a smaller home or compromise on quality of living,” said Matt.

“Cleverly considered spaces will provide the same generosity of living without an excessive floor area.”

“The living spaces in our home are on the ground and provide an outlook over the garden, bringing the openness of the outdoors inside. Building a smaller home not only means building with fewer materials, but also results in less maintenance and cleaning, which can be so time consuming and expensive.

“The house is calming and improves our mental wellbeing. Each space has its own unique character and sense of separation, thanks to the design of the home which includes different qualities, volumes and materials.

affordable housing series by the Australian Institute of Architects
Smaller homes are more efficient to run and can be easier to clean. Image: Dion Robeson.

“The garden takes up half of the site and the design and orientation makes the most of the laneway location, creating places for kids to play within and outside the block.”

an example of excellent design for affordable homes
Image: Dion Robeson.

Matt’s home is the first certified #TrueNetZero house in Western Australia, and the third of its kind nationally.

This means the house is true net zero carbon in embodied energy, which was achieved by using materials with less carbon and carbon offsets to build the house, coupled with operational energy, meaning the house will generate more electricity than it uses over its lifespan.

“A fantastic financial bonus has been the fact that small and sustainable living has also resulted in a significant reduction in the family’s energy bills,” Matt said.

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