The heading on our website is “sustainable, adaptable architecture” and it’s our mission.


These expressions go hand-in-glove. Essentially, the idea is that if people live in one place for longer, rather than move every 5 to 7 years or so then what they’d pay in stamp duty, agents’ fees, etc. can be invested in their (usually) largest asset instead.

Therefore it’s economically advantageous for the individual. By enabling people to stay in a neighbourhood for longer the local society is maintained and therefore more sustainable for collectively i.e. socially sustainable. In this way adaptability = sustainability.

Buildings these days are more “sustainable” in-so-far as they comply with energy efficiency regulations, etc. and up until recently that is pretty much all it meant, to the general public at least. For a long time conservationists have been concerned about packaging, waste, resources, energy use, etc.

Social Sustainability

There has also been a growing phenomena of the need for “happiness”. It’s all part of the reaction against mass-consumerism and people wanting more than the creature comforts a 9 to 5 job can bring. More recently there has emerged a discussion (mainly amongst architects, planners, sociologists, etc.) about “social sustainability“. While it hasn’t been widely discussed for long, what we do, by proposing building in stages, seems a logical extension of the idea of community = quality of life.

The benefits of staying in a house for a longer time seems obvious but, many people don’t consider it or think it’s feasible. Basically it’s staged alterations and additions (“alts and ads”) but, in a more considered, long term, strategic way. And it can always be backed up with the cost-of-moving vs cost-of-building argument, which certainly applies in the Sydney property market.

How you save with Adaptable Design

For the average sale price of a property in Sydney you’re looking at paying around say $35K. Real estate agents fees are another say $30K on top of that and then there’s conveyancing, cost of moving, etc, etc, etc.

It usually ends up being the best part of $100K! For under $200K it’s often possible to do an “alt and ad” job on your house that provides a significant change in the way it works and therefore the lives of its occupants. It is a tailored solution and if it meets the owners’ needs and desires, they stay…and we think that’s a good thing.

Hebden Architects are leaders in Adaptable and Sustainable Architecture for long term living. Contact Andrew Hebden on (02) 9799 5252 or via the website.

Thanks for reading,
Andrew Hebden