Map Wrap Gaps Taps and Apps

Over the last few years, I’ve developed this model for good home design: Map, wrap, gaps, taps and apps.

My model for good home design: Map, wrap, gaps, taps and apps.


Map was an obvious (albeit later) addition to the original model. Good design starts with location.

This is about where you plan to build your home. It could be as broad as which country, city or community you want to live in. Or for a renovation it might just be which part of your existing home are you going to change.

The main considerations of ‘map‘ are:

  • Proximity to amenities and work – transport nodes and networks
  • Connection with the local community – street frontage, fencing, access to schools and public places
  • Connection with the natural environment – views, landscapes colours, textures and materials
  • Orientation – to views and to the sun
  • Size – how big do you really need (as opposed to how big have you been told you need)?

Wrap, Gaps & Taps

Wrap, gaps and taps is the original model and the result of something I resisted for some time. It’s my answer to the question ‘how do you sum up what makes a good home?’. I resisted providing such an answer because I didn’t want it to be that simple. Surely if sustainable design is really complicated, that would make people like me more valuable, right?

Hopefully I’m over that now.

Like good home design itself, simple is beautiful. And the more people that know this stuff, the better.

(Note: Simple, doesn’t mean easy. ‘Thermal envelope’ for example is really easy to say, but to have a complete thermal ‘wrap‘ around your conditioned space is actually very difficult and requires excellent attention to detail.)

Wraps, gaps and taps is all about what your house is made of.

  • Wrap: This is your all-important, continuous thermal envelope. I suggest that this is the most important step. Get this right, and you’ll have a good home. Fail, and the other stuff probably won’t matter all that much.
  • Gaps: These fall into two subcategories;
    • Gaps you don’t want – this is call infiltration. It’s the ‘leakiness’ that makes old houses cold and draughty
    • Gaps you do want – this is called ventilation. It includes extractor fans and good old windows.
  • Taps: Be water efficient. It’ll save you power (and therefore money) as well as saving water.


The final addition, ‘apps‘ was a recognition that people need somewhere to put the fun stuff. ‘Apps’ is all about how you operate you home and includes things like:

  • Heat pumps
  • Solar hot water
  • Solar photovoltaics (PV)
  • LED lighting
  • Energy efficient fridges
  • Home automation

Summing Up

That’s it. Pretty simple really.

  1. Maps: Where your house is.
  2. Wrap, gaps, taps: What it’s made of.
  3. Apps: How you operate it.

But alas not always common and not always easy.

Try applying this model to your design and leave a comment below to let me know how it goes.

Links mentioned in podcast episode 84