Having declared 2017 as the year when we get our house plans sorted and submitted (have to really as there is a sunset clause on our block that runs out in Jan 2018) that’s exactly what we have been doing and this weekend it was measure out time.
We had already marked out where we want our modest container home to be situated within our building envelope but somewhere along the line we had forgotten to measure that building envelope out and apparently measuring it is a very important thing to do! So, this weekend we got on with that little job.
So out of our 50 acre block we have just under 1 acre of building plot on which to place our home. That means we have lots of space to play with and can avoid having to clear any trees and can select the easiest building spot without much to constrain us.
Our chosen spot is towards the top of the hill facing towards our dam and the gum tree forest area as this is the prettiest outlook. Having already staked out the container footprint a few weeks ago we wanted to double-check our original ideas and get GPS co-ordinates for the exact spot so we can pass those on to our architect and then onto the council. I must also point out that before getting to this point we have already had a geological survey carried out by Macquarie Geotech whose work has enabled us to decipher which sewage system to go with, where to locate it and what footings / pier support the house will require.
And so to the house.
So this is what we are looking to make – 4 x 40 foot containers arranged in a sort of T shape. We want four so we get the double width and can then make better use of the inside space. We’ve also opted for containers for many reasons including their termite resistance (very important), their low price and durability and the fact that as we are travellers we like the idea that our house has travelled too (and served a useful purpose during that journey). Aub has modified containers into homes before so knows what is required and his welding skills are also very handy as we are going to be doing quite a bit of that.
In terms of the design although we are massive fans of the TV show Grand Designs we are not wanting to send ourselves broke or take thousands of years to make this. The idea is for us to construct a solid, low maintenance home that has a little bit of design flair but is ultimately practical and cost-effective. We have decided that three bedrooms is enough in the main house as we can always add little pods of temporary accommodation later down the track for guests but need to ensure the main house has enough room for our family of four or for when we are a family of two for overnight guests. Both Aub and I really wanted an en suite as not having to queue up for the loo in the morning when the house is full of visitors is really important to us and another thing we both wanted was an open plan living area that had a great outlook to the land. I think we’ve managed to achieve all of that – on paper at least! In terms of design flair Aub and I were both taken by the guttering we saw when we visited Mossman Gorge in Queensland last year. It was an open stainless steel central gutter perfectly suited to tropical rainstorms. Now Cowra isn’t exactly tropical but as the climate has shifted we have tended towards huge down-pours which would be well served by this type of roof. We also liked how the roof will look with a central open gutter running through it, this design also allows us to place our water storage tanks neatly along the side of the property meaning minimal guttering is required between the roof drop and the tank!
Otherwise we are keen to hold onto that feeling of living outdoors that we love so much by building verandas around the property – a private one for Aub and I off our bedroom and en-suite and a larger one for the living area.
We’ve still got about a months worth of planning to do before we are ready to submit to council but it really does feel like things are starting to come together. Then, like many people on Grand Designs we have a long road ahead of us to get building this thing. Aub and I are (at this point) hoping to save up and build this out of our regular incomes rather than borrowing lots more money to get it done. As a consequence it may be several years before it is totally finished. The good thing with being a container home is that it can be at lock-up stage and actually semi-liveable well before it is actually finished so hopefully we can enjoy the process rather than wishing we’d never bothered (we have completed 3 fairly large building projects already in our 19 year life together…..)
So that’s what we have been up to at Fox Hill Hollow, we can’t wait to show you more!