Monthly Archives: July 2014

Our eco building project . . . starting?


Our project is still a paper dream, over six months after receiving council approval.

We’ve waited patiently for builders’ quotes.

We’ve whittled down those enormous figures to something a bit more manageable.

And, in the last week, after months of gathering all the information the bank needed to do a valuation so we could at last know if we had approval to finance this dream (no, we don’t have a spare $100K sitting in the bank account, sadly), we got our answer. Not the one we were hoping for.

Our initial budget was $80K-$100K, which is a heck of a lot of money to us, but we’d done our research on building costs, were confident that the architect could deliver an outcome within that budget and got the builder to give an initial estimate before we submitted our DA. All good, all on track.

By the time we get the formal fixed-fee quote which the bank requires, the budget had blown out by $65K, and we’d already spent $10K on professional fees plus were covering about $20K of expenses ourselves. So, we decided to ditch the side deck, pergola and new cladding. That saved about $20K and building materials we probably didn’t need. But still way beyond what we could comfortably afford. So, we dropped the garage, (we’re going to re-roof ourselves the teensy existing one for a couple of hundred dollars), joinery and the loungeroom window seat.

The end result is that about $125K of borrowed money, plus $20-30K of our own, adds about $90K value to our abode.

(Don’t you just love how three inconvenient zeros can be rendered by an innocuous capital K.)

Cold comfort that our budget and original estimates of end value were spot on.

All of which leaves us wondering how sustainable green building is if you can’t actually afford it without a massive loan? Or decades of saving? Or compromising the green bit – reducing building waste, recycling materials, low toxicity, quality work that will stand the test of time.

Is green a luxury?

Or is our idea of green unrealistic?