Newman Heritage House Regeneration Fremantle

Peter and Jan Newman with Gerard McCann

Our house is one of the oldest in Western Australia, at least 1860’s. We purchased it in 1974 for $8000 when Fremantle was not trendy and did basic additions to make it liveable for a family, making further additions throughout the years. Now the children have gone we hoped to do three things: (1) create a highly liveable family home; (2) ensure a proper restoration to reflect its listed heritage character, and (3) integrate the 21st-century goal of being Net-Zero. To do this we needed to completely rebuild the water and energy systems. Our architect worked closely with the Fremantle Council heritage architect to ensure it met their requirements and we began with our builder to do all the fundamentals before working creatively ourselves through every room in the house. We have spent three years replacing the roof, digging out soil to overcome damp, adding more stormwater sumps, building a new bathroom/sauna that extended the house enabling a new inner courtyard and outside deck, and creating new gardens at the back, front, and courtyard. The Net-Zero goal was enabled by adding solar PV’s, insulating walls and ceilings to high levels, replacing windows with thermal glass, using a heat pump for hot water and air conditioning, installing a rainbank system, removing the gas heater and gas stove with a fully electric one (ceremoniously cutting the gas connection), and offsetting embodied energy in the demolition and use of materials. Our vision (mostly Jan’s) for each room has emerged through integrating functionality and personal aesthetic – lots of colour, recycled furniture and bookcases, paintings collected over decades, and the use of wood in our renovated bathroom/sauna, kitchen and dining room. The house is highly liveable, does justice to its heritage, and is likely to last another 160 fossil fuel-free years.

Photography by Peter Newman.