Alex Feng had the design for his new O'Connor home sorted but that all changed when hazardous smoke haze choked the streets of Canberra at the start of the year.
"Our six-year-old and our nine-year-old suffered really badly [in the smoke haze] to the extent of nose bleeds and headaches," he said.
Determined to keep his children safe from future smoke haze events, Mr Feng decided the key to this was in how he built his home.
He decided to build a "Passivhaus" (German for passive house). A Passivhaus is designed with low air infiltration and minimal thermal bridging. It is characterised by extra insulation, high quality windows and airtightness.
"Air quality is what actually drove us to move forward on a Passivhaus," Mr Feng said.
Mr Feng was familiar with the Passivhaus concept after he visited a house in Ainslie that was built to passive house principles.
"It was a cold winter day but it was 21 degrees inside, without any heating," he said.
"The Passivhaus terminology stuck in our minds."
Thankfully, Mr Feng did not have to change much of his design, only minor elements had to be changed to accommodate some of the techniques. As well, he said it only increased his costs by about 5 per cent.
"For our family that cost is more than justifiable based on improving lifestyle and also a reduction in energy costs," he said.
"We are hoping at the end of this build we will be paying no energy bills, zero."
Passivhaus' are also designed to keep a consistent temperature without the need for heating or cooling.
In the wake of the summer's bushfires, experts called for a new regulatory approach to measure houses as existing rating systems do not measure air tightness.
Research has also shown Australia has produced some of the most leaky houses in the world.
He would like there to be a greater awareness of passive houses, he held an industry event at his home and invited representatives from the ACT government to showcase the design to them.
"There is a slow movement in the take-up of Passivhaus in Canberra but not quick enough because it's not widely publicised and the more we are undertaking this journey the most we're learning that what is available in the market place is not sufficient," Mr Feng said.
"We think not only Canberra but Australia really needs to pick up our game in the way we build, we need to build better quality homes from a climate point of view but from a health point of view as well.
"The way we are building this house we are ready for the next 20 years."
It's a passion shared by Australian Passive House Association ACT chapter chair Christie Hartfiel, who is also a senior architect at SQC Architecture. Ms Hartfiel designed the Torrens Early Learning Centre, which was the first passive building in Canberra.
"Australia is really far behind, if you talk to any Europeans they just roll their eyes at the quality of the buildings we are still producing and it's quite easy to do it better. It's not that expensive either," she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said it was the first fully accredited PassiveHaus in Canberra, this is not the case.