Barestone - a LiFEHOUSE in Victoria’s Goldfields

Wanting to create a sustainable home and workspace that complemented the ruggedly beautiful environment of Victoria’s Goldfields region led homeowner Kay to a new style of building.

As a chef, food stylist and artist living in the historic town of Castlemaine, Kay bought a small stone house on acreage that she planned to extend in order to run cooking classes. However, the project became more complicated when she realised she wasn’t happy with her architect’s ideas for the extension.

A chance win at a local arts festival set Kay on a new path with sustainable housing company Lifehouse Design.

“I wanted the house to be as environmentally friendly as possible and because it was after the 2009 bushfires, we obviously had much more stringent bushfire regulations to meet,” says Kay.

“I was really impressed with Lifehouse’s approach, but I’ve never lived in a new house and I had concerns the new part of the building wouldn’t fit in or wouldn’t look comfortable in its environment.”

The design brief called for a building material that would connect seamlessly with the surrounding bush backdrop while blending beautifully with the home’s pre-existing stone palette – Barestone hit the mark.


A sustainable home that works with the natural environment

Lifehouse Design’s philosophy is to create simple, serene buildings “that remind us of our connection to the natural world”. The company’s award-winning LiFEHOUSE concept allows owners to personalise their home design in a number of ways to suit the orientation of the land, number of rooms required, external finishes, outdoor living spaces and interior joinery preferences.

The LiFEHOUSE concept was developed to minimise waste during the construction process, while materials and finishes that require minimal or no coating or finishing are used, saving on resources and maintenance.

Cemintel’s Barestone cement sheet cladding meets this brief perfectly. The external pre-finished cladding system consists of 9mm compressed panels that are lightweight and easy to install.

Barestone combines the look of raw cement with the safety and practicality of a low combustible cladding, making it ideal for bushfire prone areas.

“I’d seen the other structures Lifehouse designed using Barestone and I really warmed towards it,” says Kay. “The cladding is great because you don’t have to paint it, and the ExpressWall system it is installed on meets insulation standards and fire requirements. It is far more affordable than building with stone.”

“Now that the cladding has been fully installed I couldn’t be happier. It’s got a mottled look and the shadows cast on it are beautiful.”

“I think it softens into the environment, which I didn’t expect it to. People often comment on how nicely it fits in with the landscape. The property can be seen up from the road through the bush which is why it can be quite eye catching and people actually slow down to view it.”

The challenge of adapting to an existing building

“One main challenge of the build was cutting holes in the stone wall to join the original house with the extension – it was a foot thick stone,” says Kay.

“I think the Cemintel product blended very well with the colour of the stone because that was a crucial thing – it’s completely Castlemaine rock. Even though the structure is quite different, the colour merges with the rock very well, far better than with brick or anything else.”

Project builder, Ian Flavel from Built Collective, says it was a challenging build but the end result was an impressive and easy finish.

“In this particular case the design wasn’t a pure rectangle, so there was actually a fair bit of work to match the angles in the design of the extension,” says Ian.

“In terms of the look, I really liked it. I thought using the Barestone was really effective for creating the vision Lifehouse were aiming for, and it was very practical because of the bushfire rating. Once we’d laid it there was nothing else to be done to it – no painting or render – so it did cut down the finishing time.”


A passive, robust home that feels unique and inviting

Barestone is installed with the Cemintel Expressall® system. This system provides a ventilated cavity structure that enables air gaps between stud walls and external cladding to maximise insulation and improve thermal performance. The CeminSeal technology also prevents water from penetrating into the panel, providing the home with a weathertight, durable, cladding system.

“The insulation is excellent,” says homeowner Kay. “It really contains the cool in summer and warmth in winter even though it’s quite an open house. I think I only used the air conditioning once last year.

“I aim to run cooking classes here, so I wanted something that was nice for people to come and visit and I feel like we’ve definitely achieved that with this house. I was worried about trying something new, but I absolutely love it.”

Case Studies


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