How (not) to build a sustainable house

The teacher & her postie
A teacher and a postie – no building experts in sight.

The title How (Not) to build a sustainable house is not a typo.

Oh how I wish I could write a post called  How to build a sustainable house, but I have a funny feeling our blog is going to turn out to be a ‘what not to do’ type of publication rather than a lovely perfect set of instructions on how to achieve your sustainable dream home.

There are a few reasons for this – but lets start with the most notable. We are not building experts of any description. Here’s what we are not…

Extremist style greenies
Journalists or writers

What we do have on our side, however, is bucket loads of enthusiasm and a touch of naivety. We are setting out on this mission to do the very best we can.

We are going to try to achieve the dream of a sustainable off-grid home – despite the barriers standing in our way. I can think of a long list of those barriers, but there are six stand out reasons we are not likely to win Australia’s Next Sexiest Sustainable House Competition (because I am sure there are heaps of those types of competitions):

1. We have a budget – a tight one, and we have no intention of exceeding it. Therefore there will be compromises which will fly in the face of best practice as far as sustainable building is concerned.

2. We are a busy, large, blended family. Both Steve and I work, the kids are into every extracurricular activity imaginable and we enjoy a full social life. We juggle kids going between homes and schools on a daily basis. I imagine I will be writing these blog posts late at night or whilst waiting for guitar lessons to finish. Please ignore all spelling mistakes and undecipherable ramblings from now on.

3. I am not good at recycling. Yes, I am the one in the family who has dedicated years of her career to finding solutions for communities to minimise their energy use. But it is Steve who cares enough to separate the recycling. The moral of this story is, we all have limitations on how far we will go to achieve our ideals. We are just a regular family going about our business. If I am running late for work I WILL cut corners and put the empty milk container in the rubbish. I repeat – we are not hard-core greenies (and there is definitely no underarm hair or tie-died clothing around here).

4. We will make mistakes – probably some big ones. We have never built a home from scratch before and we will be learning on the go. This is the motivating factor to share the journey with anyone who wants to listen. You might as well learn from our mistakes.

5. An important reason for building this house is to showcase that anyone can do it. I want other mums and dads out there to know that it doesn’t take any extra funds or special skills to achieve a beautiful, functional, sustainable home. The downside of this is, of course, the fact that we are going into this with no special skills or extra funds.

6. I have decided we are not very smart. Smart people would choose a block that was for sale, had a current planning permit and was well established for such an endeavour. But oooooh no, we have chosen to pursue our dream on a block that has no infrastructure, no planning permit, is in a degraded state and one that has a very unhappy neighbour intent on preventing anyone from establishing a home or business on this land (you can read about that doozie of a situation here).

So there you have it, despite six perfectly good reasons this could go pear-shaped, we are soldiering on.

Toy story is currently playing on the TV and I have the sudden urge to shout;

To infinity and beyond!

I will consider later if we are in fact, brave or stupid. I am also still not 100% sure I am ready to share our journey, warts and all. But what the heck – you only live once.

And maybe, just maybe, at the end of all this we will walk away with the trophy for Australia’s Next Sexy Sustainable House – at least in our eyes.

Blend it your way,
Leese x

Come chat with me over at Booken Blend on Facebook.

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