Design For Place – free architect-designed house plans

Design For Place is found at Your Home: Australia’s guide to environmentally sustainable homes under House Designs.

North elevation view of a Design for Place house

It offers sets of floorplans and elevations available in three different versions depending on your block size. The architect-designed plans showcase the use of sustainable design principles for domestic home design and construction. It includes specifications and construction techniques for a range of climate zones across Australia designed to achieve a minimum 7 star energy rating.

Key Features of Design For Place

  • Architect-designed house designs and plans that achieve a minimum 7 star energy rating through sound planning and design methods.
  • Practical design elements that can be applied to improve the average quality and energy efficiency of current mass-market housing.
  • Learning opportunities on the fundamental principles of designing for climate, orientation and livability.
  • Flexible information which can be tailored to meet the needs of your specific project.
  • Accessible and easy to understand information, plans and energy rating results to illustrate key design principles.
    The street view of facade option 1 which has no eaves on the street side

How to use Design For Place

All of the material associated with Design For Place is free and publicly available for use. The sample house designs are examples only and the designs and associated information can be used as:

  • Ready-to-use or modify house plans to suit your block and orientation.
  • A concept plan for your own design brief for an architect, building designer, or builder.
  • Design elements that you may choose to incorporate in your own house design.
  • Background information on the key principles that should be considered in the design of any home.
  • A general guide to the differences in construction specifications that should be considered in different climate zones.

Why Design For Place is important

Design For Place is all about achieving maximum livability and comfort for your home through design that is responsive to your situation, climate and block orientation.

By taking advantage of natural lighting, cross flow ventilation and heating and cooling opportunities that can be built-in to your home at the outset, you can save on ongoing energy costs for many years to come. The functional floor plans provide flexibility to allow you to adapt spaces to your specific lifestyle and changes to household composition over time.

Current mass-market housing in Australia generally does not provide locally appropriate design. Construction techniques tend to be similar irrespective of location or climate zone, and often little consideration is given to orientation.

The street view of facade option 2 which has overhanging eavesThis can lead to housing outcomes that rely heavily on mechanical heating and cooling, have little or poor connections to exterior open spaces and ‘token’ inclusions to achieve energy rating regulations. In addition, floor plan layouts are often inefficient with room sizes and shapes that reduce flexibility in furniture arrangement and functionality.

More rooms are often squeezed in than are necessarily required as a result of the perception that the house needs to respond to ‘market needs’. As a result the running costs to heat, cool and light these homes is higher over time, as well as less responsive to household and lifestyle changes.

How Design For Place help you

Design For Place:

  • Shows how locally responsive design can reduce the energy needed for heating and cooling of your home, reducing or even eliminating reliance on heating and cooling appliances and their ongoing running costs.
  • Lists key sustainable design principles that can usefully apply to all home designs to improve average energy efficiency and livability.
  • Demonstrates how simple design techniques can provide good access to sunlight and shade when required.
  • Provides sample floor plan layouts that illustrate ways to have the majority of living spaces facing north where they can take advantage of natural light.
    Includes sample floor plans that illustrate how to use repetitive construction techniques, such as standard sizes for wall frames, for a more efficient and economical build.
  • Presents sample elevations and cross sections to demonstrate how the floor plan layouts can be turned into buildings.
  • Provides a sample of the local requirements for insulation, glazing quality, and construction relevant to each climate zone in Australia, sufficient to achieve a 7 star NatHERS rating.

How to get started with Design For Place

It is important to carefully consider your living requirements so you can make informed choices and get the best use out of Design For Place for your project.

Start by considering your needs, including mapping out likely changes to your lifestyle and household configuration. Take into account factors such as caring for elderly parents or kids leaving home, so you can balance the various functions your home will need to fulfill over time.

New home buyers need to consider how they would make use of specific features. Weigh up whether opting for more space will pay off for you and your household. Rooms such as a media room or a second dining area may be largely left unused and add costs to heat, cool and furnish. In many cases a smaller but more livable, flexible space, is more practical and can cater better to your needs long term.

Factor in your climate and energy needs. While having greater upfront costs to build than a typical project home, incorporating all or some of the design principles showcased here can allow your household to reduce ongoing energy costs over years to come.

If you are considering a project home, some of the features of this design, including the northern orientation of both living areas and bedrooms, could be discussed with your builder and accommodated to improve comfort and efficiency of your home.

Review the Design For Place specifications and talk to your builder or architect about how you can use the principles, plans and energy performance ideas to build a more sustainable, efficient and livable home.

The street view of facade option 3 which has a gable roof.


The plans available on Design For Place will need modifications to comply with local legal and building requirements by a registered architect or building designer.

The information above is from