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Couple overcomes challenges to complete unorthodox home renovation: 'There's been numerous tears and meltdowns'

"This is the only way we should be building houses."

"This is the only way we should be building houses."

Photo Credit: Instagram

While converting a 1950s cottage battered by time and the elements into a modern, energy-efficient house is no easy feat, one couple in Melbourne, Australia, decided they were up for the challenge. 

Tired of dealing with constantly fluctuating indoor temperatures and high pollution levels from air seeping in and out through cracks, Tylah Ingram and Dylan Farquhar took on the arduous but rewarding task of renovating their home themselves, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

After staying in a passive house, the couple was set on building one as their forever home. 

According to Passipedia, passive homes ensure maximum comfort, efficiency, and sustainability by utilizing an airtight design and substantial amounts of insulation to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. They also usually have a ventilation system to control moisture and air quality. 

Passipedia says that passive homes use up to 90% less energy than typical homes simply by using natural energy sources such as the sun instead of dirty energy sources such as gas or oil. 

Modern, passive homes can help reduce heat-trapping gases released from appliances such as air conditioners while making communities more resilient against extreme weather events. 

From Boston to Texas to North Carolina, many are embracing passive homes as a viable answer to the affordable housing crisis and our overheating planet. 

"This is the only way we should be building houses," Dylan told the ABC. "Anything else is going to be at risk of mold and condensation and poor health, potentially, to the occupants."

Per the ABC, the couple set an ambitious deadline of completing the house in just nine months for around $600,000, but Dylan's experience as a builder helped considerably. During the renovation, they moved into an 18-square-meter (59-square-foot) portable studio with their dog to save on living costs. 

"Oh, there's been numerous tears and meltdowns — on my behalf," Tylah told the ABC about living in the cramped space.

However, they endured the temporary inconvenience for the long-term benefits — including improved health and more comfortable living — that the passive home provides. 

They installed features such as extensive wall and roof insulation, double-glazed windows, and airtight wraps to seal interior and exterior walls. They also taped over gaps and used staples to prevent air leaks.

The project took an extra three months and cost $50,000 more than their budget, but it was well worth the setbacks.

"If it takes five, 10 years, at least you know the retrofit's futureproof and you can stay there forever," Dylan told the ABC.

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