Getting started on the project meant finding some land. It was all very well to think about building a home according to the latest sustainable living principles, but nothing could happen without first purchasing a suitable block of land. What did we think was a suitable block? What were the requirements that separated the properties to avoid from the ones that deserved more scrutiny? Libby thought about how we wanted to live in the new few years and what amenities were important to us. She also analysed the economics in detail to ensure that we would at least come out even financially after we built a unit for ourselves and then sold the others that would be built on the block.
The detailed list follows, but Libby summarised her requirements as trees & train.
Easy walking distance from public transport. In our case, the preferred mode of public transport was by train. Libby travels to her current job via train. If we need to get into the city, trains are a convenient option. Train stations are also likely to be the hub for local bus services.
Easy walking distance of a variety of shops, particularly a good coffee shop. Walking to get a few essentials reduces the need for using the car and provides a pleasant form of exercise.
Mature trees/shrubs/parks in the area to create green spaces. We are lucky to currently live in an area with a landscape overlay that protects an environment with plenty of tree cover so we wanted to get as close as possible to repeating that experience.
Large enough to fit 2-3 single storey dwellings with space for garden areas around each of them. We wanted the residents of each unit to have a usable, landscaped space outside their dwelling for open air activities – gardening, growing fruits and vegetables, place to enjoy outdoor meals, etc.
Support the economics of developing well-built, boutique single storey homes and selling them at a price that would at least cover everyone’s costs (perhaps a modest profit). Our team agreed that profit was not the fundamental driver for this project. As David said, “If everyone comes out of this project with a smile, we will have succeeded.”
Libby – I actually feel uncomfortable if I’m in an area where I’m taller than all the vegetation.