Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Creek

     One of the most magical things about our block is the creek. Well, less of a creek and more of a trickle or a non-permament watercourse depending on where, and whether it has rained recently or not! Definitely not big enough to go swimming in, but hopefully big enough to provide some water for the vege garden when needed! This photo was taken just after we had gotten quite a lot of rain, but a month later there were parts of the creek that were completely dry (but who knows what goes on underground?) but that is good for our circumstances because it means that we can build within 50 metres of the creek as opposed to 100 metres. If it was 100 metres then that would be off the edge of the property boundaries! We were a bit worried for a while there until the council said it would be ok, and we were wondering why they would give building permission for a block that was unbuildable!

     It seems a bit small for much wildlife to hang around, but there is one bit that has been dammed a little, and we are planning on putting some other small dam walls in around the place to try and keep some of the water around a bit longer after it rains. The neighbours upstream have quite a big dam that they go swimming in, so we know that the creek is big enough for one of those. There is one spot where a gully comes into the side of the creek which might be good for catching water. It will be hard digging though, and the block is inaccesible by machinery due to the number of trees and also the steep slope. The ground is made of a layer of rocks and then a layer of clay, so it's the worst of both worlds!
     There is a few patches of lantana around, which I am planning on removing but only after I have figured out which natives to plant to replace the dense shrubbery for the native animals :)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Phone Grove

Seven weeks after application and a number of chase-ups, and the council have finally given us a road number!!! We are no longer just a Block number - maybe now the RTA will let me change my address on my licence - the website refused to recognise the address and the person on the phone didn't believe me that I was moving in 'tomorrow'.
     Surprisingly the easiest part for us seems to have been the phone line - Telstra didn't know what they were talking about every single time I talked to someone, they all assumed that I was either A) a city block with a connected line to an existing house or B) a rural block with no line up from the road and an existing house. In fact, our block has a line (or two) running across the front of the block parallel to the road about 80 metres back, and this was run through back in the 1970s for some very strange reason, since this road is very quiet now and was much much quieter back then! Once we had the local guy on the block (if only we could have talked to him on the phone!) he knew how it all worked and realised that the official Telstra maps are pretty much all completely wrong.
     So he said it was ok for us to dig a trench about 2 metres away from the concrete madison box, and put up a garden shed and he would install it into that. So we spent 3 days in the pouring rain digging this trench through rocks and mud, and the rest of the week assembling a little garden metal shed which we bodgied up with a bits of wood to try and create a flat surface - I even made up a bit of a wooden floor with some bits that were lying around, we found an old but usable chair in one of the sheds and convinced the ants living in an old esky to move out so we even had a table!
     The Telstra guy came back the next week when we weren't there and connected the whole thing up hopefully with no problems, and even gave us a phone which doesn't require electricity. It was quite important safety-wise to have a phone as there is NO mobile phone reception anywhere in the area. The biggest problem with it now is that we will probably never actually hear it ring, what with having 17 acres to wander around on, and if we do hear it ring we won't make it to the phone in time to answer! But having been warned by a local to NEVER run for the phone after a horror story of another local who fell and injured themselves quite seriously when they tried, it is now a rule on our place. Thankfully because we have a Telstra account we can use the *10# option :)
     Here's a picture of our phone shed... Please note the pile of dirt on the right hand side from digging the trench...

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Waiting for kit-home plans

After waiting a month and some stern words to the kit-home company, they have sent some preliminary plans which are pretty much the same as the example plans that they sent out months ago, so not sure if that means progress was made or not. I have decided that another visit to the property should be imminent, the best time would be just after we have submitted the council application, so here's hoping that is soon! I think that it would be a good idea to try and clear the area between the house and the northern boundary of all the rocks that are lying around on site. We can pile them up somewhere out of the clearing zone so that later we can use them to make rock walls etc. It is frustrating that we can't really do much work at this stage since we don't have any tools, because they are all down in Sydney. And we don't want to bring up our stuff from Sydney until we are able to be permanently on the site in case of theft, and also so that we can do some work on the big shed so that it is more weather proofed so our stuff doesn't get wet. But we can't weather-proof until we get our stuff out of storage so we've got the tools to work with... I feel like a snake eating its own tail!!!
     So here's a piccie of our sheds :)

     One of the awesomest things about this property is that there is heaps of random stuff lying around which we have been going through and finding it very useful - bits of wood and wire and bowls and sinks and everything! :)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Cosy Caravan

We are going to live in a caravan on-site while we build the house, so that hopefully the frame will go up quite quickly as we will be working on it almost every day. We already have the caravan on the property, as we spotted a cheap second-hand one around the corner when we were hunting for land to buy, and the kind folks who sold it to us kept it on their place until we were ready, and then drove it around when we needed somewhere to sleep on our first visit! In fact we still owe them a case of beer for that, must not forget! Considering that the caravan is not registered and possible not road-worthy (though still in very good nick) that was very generous of them, luckily it was only a couple of kilometres down a quiet back road. :)
     It was a even better deal than we first realised, with a functioning gas stove AND gas in the bottle, which meant that we could cook and have hot drinks from day one!!! The council does not want us to live on the property until we have a proper toilet and some way to deal with wastewater, and since we were planning on getting a composting toilet anyway we will just install that asap.
     There was the option of having the greywater/septic system installed right from the start but this seemed like it would be too hard to hook up and work around as the caravan would be right in the way of the trucks coming etc. So we will probably have a small greasetrap hooked up to the caravan sink and then draining into a small trench, depending on council approval.
     We also have the option of laundry at the local pub and showers at the local resource centre which is only 4 kilometres walk (a short distance compared to most things in the country!). We could even have some camp showers if feeling in the mood, as we have no neighbours in site and we can always hear cars coming up the driveway so have plenty of notice of unexpected visitors!
     Today was two kinds of good news, we are approved for the Regional Relocation Grant so that's some extra money which is appreciated since we haven't had any income for a year! And also we have been sent the preliminary plans from the kit-home company so hopefully the full plans will be coming through very soon! Smiley Face!

Trees, trees and more trees

Hi There,
     My husband and I are working towards owner-building a steel-frame kit-home on rural acreage at Drake NSW and so I decided to create this blog in order to be able to show a time-line of progress. We are currently at the stage where we are almost ready to submit the application to the council to receive a Complying Development Certificate. We are waiting for the kit-home company to make the engineered plans while we finish making some site-plan maps. It's a bit of a frustrating stage as there is not much to do except research, and I feel like I have done most of the research needed at this stage.
     We are going to be more hands-on than most owner-builders, many of which seem to basically be project managers at most. We are going to do everything that we can legally do ourselves, so will require tradies to help us out with *tree removal *earthworks *plumbing (water and gas) *concreting *waterproofing and maybe at some point electrics ( if we can afford the new connection). The local council seems quite good for negotiating so hopefully that will be helpful in the long run.

     We have pinpointed where the house is to go pretty much exactly, which wasn't really up to us as we are squeezed between the BAL ratings for bushfire, the distance to the little creek and the frontage from the road, only leaving us a few metres wiggle room. Luckily it's a lovely location and there will be stunning views from all windows and the front verandah will look over to the creek, and across to the tops of trees which are full of noisy birds.