Land is bought.
And so it begins! Went into the real estate agent’s office yesterday and shook hands on a price for an 18 acre allotment. The land is a mixture of cleared and forested, gently sloping to very steep and has an East South-Easterly aspect and is situated about 1-1.5 hours outside of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. The land backs onto state forest and is at the end of a dirt track with a further 4-5 allotments before it that are simple cleared pastures and fields, one with a series of buildings including a main dwelling and a granny flat that is the residence of the family that owned the whole area and arranged the subdivisions. The area used to be a bulb farm and was never used for intensive agriculture AFAIK. Lucky for me the former owner and farmer still lives on 3 of the earlier blocks and is supposed to be a nice guy and easy to talk to. He should be a good source of knowledge about the area.
So now I’m waiting to have the paperwork finalised so I can arrange the settlement and get started! I won’t be taking on a loan for this property nor for the building expenses. I have been saving for years and don’t need to borrow. This helps because I don’t need to ask a bank for their opinion on whether or not my house has ‘market value’, I can just build the house I want to build as long as it satisfies building and zoning requirements.
There are two critical factors that will impact on the application for a building permit for a dwelling on this property. One is that the property falls within a Wildfire Management Overlay that places some pretty serious requirements on any proposed dwelling in order to give the CFA what it needs to make a defence of the property should it be threatened by wildfire. This means sufficient road access for their trucks, water on site they can use with their equipment and a home site that has its fuel load managed. I’ll probably get into more detail about that later. Two is that it is zoned Rural Conservation Zone and this requires careful management of waste water and any potential for silt and topsoil runoff as well as a limitation on the ways the land can be used that retains it’s character and native vegetation. These concerns already fall within my greater concept for the project so I don’t imagine much difficulty in meeting requirements there.
Right now I’m stoked, I’ve been looking around for land for nearly a decade and I’ve hovered around this particular property for at least 3 years, comparing, researching and waiting patiently. It has good light, great soil, a seasonal spring and heaps of gorgeous forest. The plan is to build a 2-3 bedroom dwelling using a combination of Earthship and Rammed Earth techniques with an earthen rooftop. The property has no grid electricity, gas or water/sewerage so it will be entirely self sufficient (though there is telephone to the top of the property which might come in handy for internet access). Solar hot water (and perhaps some help from a rocket stove), solar/wind electric with batteries and some kind of on site waste treatment (I would like to use some kind of composting technique if possible due to the massive savings in water use it brings but perhaps a wet system using recycled grey water will be better). It’s going to be a long haul to get it done and done well and I plan to try to document the process here as much as possible.
Please feel free to make suggestions, ask questions and share your own experiences if you are trying/have done something similar yourselves. I hope it can encourage others to have a go and put me in touch with people who know more than I do (almost everyone at this point!) so they can stop me making stupid mistakes. Cheers all :)