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Home design trends and innovations you need to know

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Home automation

It’s hard to know where to start when you’re designing your new home. One way to get inspired is to look at current trends and innovations in home design and adopt the things that suit you best. Design trends are much more than just choosing paint colours or even tiles for your kitchen and bathroom, they take in things that aren’t on display.

We investigate several, including home automation, eco-friendly homes and flexible layouts, that you can consider when designing your dream home.

Home automation with smart technology

While home automation and smart technology has been around for a few years now the growth in popularity means it has become more streamlined and sophisticated.

Smartphone controls

For many years homeowners have had the option of a hub to control the function of various technologies within the home. Increasingly the control is moving to smartphones with various apps.

This means you’ll be able to control many aspects of your home like lighting, heating, garden watering systems, swimming pool controls, security systems, appliances, and more from within your home but also when you’re not at home.

Home zoning

Being able to control specific zones within your home is also growing in popularity and sophistication. From light switches to music, to zone-based thermostats, a streamlined smart home can be more affordable due to lower utility bills and require less equipment.

Smart lighting

Lighting that is controlled by smart technology is another way you can automate your new home.

Not just limited to overhead lights, smart window coverings are the next step to provide customisable ambience and the ability to raise and lower in conjunction with the strength of the overhead lights. So, as the blinds lower when the sun goes down, your lighting can slowly turn on to ensure the right visibility in a room.

More personalised

Using more gadgets in conjunction with the Internet means your devices will learn your daily routines and work seamlessly. Imagine your front door unlocking because it recognises your face. Or a thermostat knowing when you are doing exercise and adjusting the room temperature accordingly.


The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of touchless devices with new items like video doorbells that do not need to be touched to ring. This keeps it clean and allows physical distance to be maintained.

“From light switches to music, to zone-based thermostats, a streamlined smart home can be more affordable due to lower utility bills and require less equipment.”

Eco-friendly homes

As the impact of global warming continues to be seen, homeowners are looking at ways they can lower their environmental footprint.

This includes incorporating green building and eco-friendly designs into new homes with the help of companies like ZAC Homes.

Energy-efficient light globes

While energy-efficient light globes have been around for many years, their performance and energy efficiency has grown enormously. According to the US Department of Energy CFL and LED light globes last three to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light globes and use between 25 and 80 per cent less energy.

Energy-efficient appliances

Energy-efficient appliances reduce your energy consumption and, therefore, your energy bill. According to the Australian Government website, appliances can account for around 30 per cent of home energy use, so choosing the most energy-efficient appliance can bring big savings.

Replacing an ageing appliance like a fridge or dishwasher can be more economical because you will save more in energy usage in the long run. For example, also according to modern dishwashers use 25 per cent less energy compared to those of 10 years ago.

Greywater reuse and water tanks

One of the growing trends in green building is to find a way to reuse greywater. Greywater is the water from your home that is only lightly used – the water that is washed down the drain, shower, bath or washing machine. This water may have some traces of food, dirt or other products in it, but it is still safe to use in many applications, such as outdoor irrigation.

New home builders can install pipes that channel this water outside, allowing you to conserve water by using your own greywater.

Installing water tanks to catch rainwater off your roof is also an eco-friendly way to live.

Net-zero energy

Making your home net-zero means you create your own energy, and the amount it creates is equal or greater to the amount of energy you consume.

The first step in creating a net-zero energy home is lowering energy consumption to the lowest possible usage by using good insulation and energy-efficient features, then adding a renewable energy source like solar panels.

Flexible design

As a result of the pandemic, there is a trend away from completely open plan living zones in new homes.

Homeowners are seeing the need for flexibility in the design of their homes. For example, right now you might need some extra room for home schooling in the short term and in the future, it can fulfill another need.

The open-plan concept doesn’t work well if more than one person is working from home or if the kids are being noisy, so that concept may be refined with partitions to dedicate space for working/home office.

Build a new home with ZAC Homes

With ZAC, you will receive exceptional customer service, and the ZAC Homes team will make the journey of building your new home as fun and exciting as possible.

ZAC Homes builds with trust, respect, integrity and pride, which we work hard to deliver to every client. Call us on 1300 350 793 or send us an online enquiry and our team will work with you to design and build your dream home.

Our FAQs about duplex homes by ZAC Homes

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We build more duplex homes than any other type of home at ZAC Homes and with 20 years in the industry, we’ve built literally thousands of duplex homes for families and investors.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we’ve compiled from our many years of building.

What is a duplex?

The terms ‘duplex’ and ‘dual occupancy’ are often used interchangeably, but there is one key difference. A duplex contains two dwellings under one main roof and can be built on a single piece of land or a subdivided block.

The benefit of a duplex on a subdivided block comes in when you want to sell one or both dwellings. However, a duplex is also still technically a dual occupancy home because it can be two dwellings on one block. Because of this, confusion over the two terms can still creep in.

In the Sydney building market, the term ‘duplex’ is generally used to describe two homes of similar size with a common wall, like ZAC Homes’ popular Gemini Designs. Our range of duplexes has been developed over the more than 20 years that we’ve been building duplexes.

What are the advantages of building a duplex?

The biggest advantage is that you can build two homes on one suburban block of land.

You can take an older rundown house on a block of land, then turn it into a knock down rebuild project and end up with two brand new homes.

Building a duplex is an excellent way of maximising the value of your land by building one home to live in and another to rent or sell. A duplex is also a great way for a multi-generation family to live together but have separate homes.

In terms of costs, it is also a very economical way to build two homes. If you were to build two dwellings on one block of land the costs would be significantly higher.

Are there any differences between building a single dwelling or a duplex?

When it comes to building a duplex, rather than a single dwelling there are a few differences.

You must have a Hydraulic Plan which shows how rainwater will be drained from your land and where it will go. You must also have a Landscape Plan which takes into consideration your local council’s requirements as well as the Hydraulic Plan.

On the upside, you have the potential for subdivision. In some but not all cases, your council may allow you to subdivide which will enable you to sell each home as an individual property.

How much land do you need to build a duplex?

Under the NSW Low Rise Housing Diversity Code, blocks must be either 400 square metres or the minimum lot size required by your council, whichever is greater. Blocks must be a minimum of 12 metres wide and buildings must have a minimum side setback of 0.9 metres.

Additionally, each dwelling must be 5 metres in width and a maximum height of 8.5 metres and must face a public road. Blocks where the duplexes have dwellings placed one above the other must be at least 15 metres in width.

Do I need to subdivide to build a duplex?

No, it is possible to build a duplex and not subdivide the land. However, you will not be able to sell the two homes separately if they are not subdivided because they will be on one land title.

This might be your preferred option if you plan to keep both homes after you build your duplex and have family members live alongside you.

Can I build a duplex on a corner block?

Yes, a corner block can be an ideal location for a duplex if the block meets requirements from your local council and government regulations.

At ZAC Homes we have standard designs that can be modified, or we can work with you on a custom design.

One thing you need to consider with any corner block build is the façade on both street views.

How much does it cost to build a duplex in Sydney?

Many variables go into the cost of building a home including the land, the size, the materials, fittings and fixtures chosen, the quality, the custom design, and more.

While building a duplex can be more expensive than a single or double storey home, it is still cheaper than building two separate homes because of the economies of scale with a common wall. For investors, the cost can also be offset by the potential rental or sales returns of two properties. 

Speak to our experienced team today to get a better understanding of the costs involved in building a duplex on your property.

Are there duplex designs for narrow blocks?

Yes, the minimum width block you can build a duplex design home on is 12 metres wide.

With ZAC Homes standard designs including the Arabella 25 and the Gemini 25/19, our minimum is currently around 13 metres wide but we can work with you on a custom design to fit the 12 metre minimum.

What approvals are required to build a duplex in NSW?

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code applies to all local government areas in NSW and allows dual occupancies to be approved through the fast-tracked Complying Development process. The new code applies to properties zoned R1, R2, R3 and RU5 across NSW, with designs also required to meet the Low Rise Housing Diversity Design Guide.

Using a private certifier and the Complying Development process means the planning and construction for your duplex approval avoids the need to go through your local council.

Build a duplex with ZAC Homes

Building a duplex home can be financially beneficial, and a great option for your family home, if you choose the right builder.

Custom-built dual occupancy homes by ZAC Homes are designed to optimise your available space and make the most of your valuable land. We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service and make the journey of building your new home as easy and rewarding as possible.

ZAC Homes builds with trust, respect, integrity and pride, which we work hard to deliver to every client. Call us on 1300 350 793 or send us an online enquiry and our team will work with you to design and build your dream home.

The key stages of a knock down rebuild

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Building a new home is a major undertaking and knocking down your existing home to build a new one adds an additional element. Breaking the project down into the key stages ensures that it runs smoothly from beginning to end.

Why knock down rebuild

There are plenty of advantages of a knockdown rebuild project, including staying in a community you know and love, cost savings, and building a home that suits your specific needs.

If you love the area where you currently live, then the idea of selling and moving to a new address probably holds little appeal. It could mean you and other family members need to find a new job, perhaps a new school for your children, and even a new hairdresser. With a KDR project, you get a brand-new house and get to stay in familiar surroundings.

It can be cheaper, or about the same cost, to knock down and rebuild than to extensively renovate. This is because a renovation is usually a one-off custom job. In many cases, you’ll uncover problems during the renovation that can also add to the cost, such as repairing major structural damage.

One of the best parts of a knock down rebuild project rather than a renovation is that you are given a blank canvas. You and your family can decide how many rooms you need, how they should be laid out, what you’d like the exterior to look like, what fixtures and fittings you’d like, and much more.

“One of the best parts of a knock down rebuild project rather than a renovation is that you are given a blank canvas.”

Stages of a knock down rebuild project

There are several stages for a knock down rebuild project and all of them must occur for a successful build.

At ZAC Homes we’ve worked with hundreds of home owners to guide them through the knock down rebuild process. Here is an overview of what we’ve learnt:

Check with the authorities

The starting point for any suburban building project is to establish what you are permitted to build on your block of land. You need to check that your current house can be demolished and replaced. Some homes have heritage listings or overlays which prevent you from demolishing.

You also need to know the zoning of your area to ensure you can build a new home that will suit your requirements.

The first step should be to visit the websites of your local council and relevant state authorities like the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Most Councils also have Council officers who can answer your specific questions.

There will also be restrictions about how close you can build to the boundary, how much of the land can be utilised for buildings, what setback you are required to meet, and whether you can build a duplex or a single dwelling.

Understand your block of land

Once you’ve established that you can demolish your current home, you need to consult experts like ZAC Homes. We’ve assisted many homeowners through the knock down rebuild process and can offer expert advice.

One of the important first steps is to understand what you can build on your block of land. For many home designs, there are restrictions about the width of the land, but there are also considerations like the slope, the aspect, and the vegetation. Our expert consultants can help you navigate all these considerations.

New home design

Once you understand the regulations and land issues you can move on to the fun stuff and find the best home design for your needs.

Some people want to move quickly and build a home just like the display, while others want to develop their own custom design.

That’s why at ZAC Homes we divide our services into three distinct types:

  • Fast Track – off-the-plan design with minimal changes
  • My Style – modifying an existing design
  • Tailored Approach – custom design with complete flexibility

No matter which option you go with we recommend that you visit display homes because they are a great way to work out what you do and don’t like and if you can’t make it to a display village in person, take a 3D walk through the homes on our website.

You should also look at other homes in your area to see what will complement the existing housing in your neighbourhood.

When considering design you and your family need to decide on your requirements like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, what size living areas you require, and more. Think about how you use your current home – do you work from home? Do you like to entertain? You should also consider things like how long you plan to live there.

Organise the demolition

If you decide to build with ZAC Homes we will help you arrange the demolition of your old home and incorporate that into the contract.

Other builders might prefer you to organise your own demolition but can recommend demolition experts.

Either way, there are a few important things to remember including a demolition permit from your council, and notifying your service providers like electricity, gas, water and Internet to disconnect well before your demolition date.

You’ll also need temporary accommodation for you and your family to live in until your new home is complete.

“Once you understand the regulations and land issues you can move on to the fun stuff and find the best home design for your needs.”

New home rebuild

The building of your new home also has several key stages that include:

Sitework – Site will be cleared and prepared for construction to begin.

Foundation/Base – Underground power and plumbing will be laid next and if your new home has a concrete slab this will be poured and allowed to cure. Alternatively, foundations will be put in place.

Frames – Next comes the wall frames and roof trusses and it’s starting to take shape.

Lock-Up – After the frame and trusses come the guttering, roof covering and, brickwork and external cladding. This will be complemented by external doors and windows to bring it to lock-up stage. 

Then it’s time for the plumbers and electricians to add all the necessary pipes and cables. Some of this will occur alongside the other trades. Now it’s really starting to look like a home. 

Interior fixing – Next the focus will shift to the interior with the installation of ceilings and walls, then internal doors, cabinets and shelving, as well as skirting boards and architraves.

Completion – Before you move in all the painting and tiling will be completed as well as the installation of the final touches like light fittings, shower screens, benchtops, and more.

Then you can call it Home Sweet Home. 

Knock down rebuild with ZAC Homes

It is difficult to estimate how long the whole process is from the early research to the completed new home because there are so many different variables. Typically the planning from deciding you want to rebuild to the beginning of construction can take up to 12 months.

The team at ZAC Homes are knock down rebuild specialists and regardless of your block being sloped, narrow, above or below the road, our design team will work with you to create a contemporary design that fits your budget.

ZAC Homes builds with trust, respect, integrity and pride, which we work hard to deliver to every client. Call us on 1300 350 793 or send us an online enquiry and our team will work with you to design and build your dream home.