Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to build a house?

This past weekend we took an almost flying visit up to the block. Dad was going to be in town to attend a party in Toowoomba, so we were keen to show it off!

First stop however was to check out the latest in Manufactured Homes technology at Transtate Homes in Toowoomba. We have been casually researching different building concepts over the last month or so. Anybody who offers an alternative to the Brick and Tile monstrosity is what we are after, and if they can do it cheaply, with as little hassle as possible, in a way that easily incorporates our sustainable house ideals and looks good too then that is what we are after.

Transtate offer five stars in convenience. You design a home, order it, they build it at their site and turn up one day with your entire house on the back of a truck, complete down to the curtains. That really appeals to me! We had a wander around their sales site and took a peek inside two of their display homes. I was expecting to be unimpressed, to feel like I was walking into a glorified caravan, but was pleasantly surprised. The finishes were fine, the houses felt like homes and we had a good chat with the friendly reception girl who told us we could have whatever we wanted!

We arrived in the Crow and spotted our good mate Geoff (the real estate agent) cruising by in his 4x4 munching on a pie. We hadn't been able to catch up with him since the purchase so scampered over to his office to say hi. He was blown away to see us, he actually hadn't met Dom yet, and had barely met me. He was such a help during the purchase, going out of his way to smooth things over between us, our dodgy lenders and the grouchy vendor.

Geoff invited us in for a cuppa and we had a chat about our plans and the area and he even tried to sell us some more land! The best pick up was that he told us that his Aunty lived one country block away from us (ie about 5 kilometres or so) and that she is the last remaining 'original' of the area. She runs a farm with her 'boys' (I'm assuming these farm boys would be in their forties at least!) and Geoff suggested we pop over and introduce ourselves and pick her memories for info about our block, the church and the burial. We definitely plan to do that - there is no better resource than the people themselves.

We left Geoff's and headed into the local takeaway for lunch. Delicious big country burgers and snacks, then as Dad still hadn't arrived we popped into the pub to watch some cricket and drink some beer...

Dad still hadn't arrived, so we drifted over to Bullocky's Rest, a Bird Sanctuary/Rest Stop at the entrance to town and tried to wait out the two hours! I developed a friendship with a nice old tree and did some costings on the Transtate Homes.

Dad rang at last, saying he had taken a wrong turn somewhere near Esk and ended up on a crazy dirt road. We thought perhaps he had come up past our place, but after filling up at the friendly neighbourhood petrol pump in some lady's back yard and heading out to the block we realised he had come another way.

Dad and Letty both loved the block, soaked up the serenity for a while and enjoyed the breeze out of the west. The place changes every time we go - this time, thanks to the large amounts of rain that have been falling in the area, the block was awash with knee high grass and the cicadas appeared to at last have moved on to not so green pastures...

On leaving I took the opportunity to show Dad the Transtate Homes we had looked at in the morning, and offended his Builder's Pride! Was that my plan? Only I could know!

We showed Dad what it is was that we really, really want. That is a modular style of home, with a small 'pod' that contains our bedroom and ensuite (no toilet), and a larger 'pod' containing another bedroom, bathroom with composting toilet, the kitchen and living areas. These two pods would be connected by a large deck area, perhaps larger than the internal living area of the two pods. The plan being that in Summer we live primarily outdoors on the half covered/half uncovered deck, and in Winter we withdraw into the small living space, which is economically heated by a pot belly stove. Something like this concept from Gateway Manufacture.

Dad loved the plans and took them away to do some pricing! Could my dream of having my Dad build my home be about to come true? He says he can do much better than any of the quotes we have seen so far. We will wait and see...

We headed off back home and another weekend away was over, back to reality.

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