Sunday, August 31, 2008

A House on a Truck...

A long time between posts! I can't believe that the last time I was here was June and now tomorrow is September. But something tells me that the frequency of posts is about to increase...rapidly!

On Friday we were up early and on our way to Toowoomba for a meeting at Transtate Homes. How did this come about? A few weeks ago we met with Dad to discuss our newly developed house plan. However, he let us know that it really wasn't feasible for him to build the house. This was unfortunate, but led us to thinking back to our original idea. Transtate Homes build completed homes on their site in Toowoomba and then ship them out to your site on the back of a truck, crane them onto footings they arrange and you are ready to move in!

We contacted the company about two weeks ago and started talking to Mark, the friendly Transtate representative. He priced our first (and somewhat grandiose) plan at a somewhat grandiose price. Still cheaper than the average McMansion, but not what we needed to reach our goal of less cost than our current lifestyle. So we downscaled the plan, reduced our expectations on finishes and emailed off plan number two. This one came in at a much more respectable (and workable) figure...but this got us thinking. How low can we go?

When we first began we had the idea to build small so we went back to those thought patterns, back to our Small Houses web links and started drafting again. And the result was plan number three, emailed off to Mark and returned at a markedly reduced cost! Excellent! We thought.

At the meeting however, Mark explained that a good portion of the cost of our home (almost 10%) was due to the necessity for a police escort and associated costs. He explained that if we could manipulate our needs into a footprint of 5 metres wide and up to 17 metres long that he could use that 10% percent on a full length deck rather than handing it over to the authorities. As part of our downsizing and rethinking we had all but abandoned the possibility of a large deck. However, this reminded us that our original dreamings had indeed been that of indoor / outdoor living. Mark showed us some new plans they are working on that fit the footprint and took us for a tour of the construction yard for some more ideas.

What an excellent concept. They had about six houses on the go at different stages of finishing, all built up high on platforms ready for the trucks to come in and take them away. Mark proudly described the process which at the moment is taking approximately 8 weeks, including council approvals. Can't complain about that!

We went back to the office to discuss the nitty gritty and then left promising to get a final, that's it, yep final, plan to him soon.

We headed off to Crows Nest to meet Irene and Peter who were enjoying a day off work by coming to check out our crazy plan! We headed to the block and wandered about a bit with a measuring tape, ramming small innocent sticks into the ground as corner markers.

And a good time was had by all!

As you can see the land appears dry, however the night before there had been quite a downpour and the earth itself was very moist. More rain this week in the area, so maybe some green will come to visit soon. We popped back into town for cafe burgers and talk of houses and jobs and life as we know it, or soon will know it. Then back to the rat race for all of us.

At home again and there we were furiously clicking away manipulating walls and furniture and fixtures trying to fit what we want (on top of what we need) into the required space. And by george, I think we've got it. Click on the plan below for a larger version:
It's simple, it's tidy, it has plenty of space for Dom to whip up his culinary delights and fits to a number of principles of sustainable design, so we are happy. We have to come to a decision soon, so will send this off to Mark tomorrow for the verdict. He is keen to add a full length carport to the southern side also, to provide a parking area and increased roof area for water collection. I am in two minds about that, with a covered deck on the front and covered carport on the back, I am concerned about the house becoming dark. But we will talk to him about the use of clear roofing and / or sky lights.

So the plan? Have Mark generate a quote for us on supply of the house. Get quotes for earthworks, grey water and storage tank supply and install, composting toilet supply, grid-connect solar supply and install and connection to the grid and a fencing quote. Then to take these all to the friendly bankers and wait for them to smile and say yes!

Then the real fun will begin!

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