Monday, 24 September 2007


It's been a short couple of months from a vague inkling of an idea to today, and looking back there is no way we could have known that we would be where we are today, but, well, here we are!

We signed our contract last week, on Tuesday to be precise, and our DA went in on Friday, so the ball is well and truly rolling, though it's a strange feeling as we aren't actually doing anything to assist it, so we're sort of out of the loop. Everything is happening off somewhere else, so whilst they're momentous events, it almost feels like we're not really involved at all.

We booked in for another visit to the block on Sunday, and the vendor was kind enough to allow that, so we arranged with my FIL, Graham, to come along and check the place out.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, weather wise, and we started it off with a visit to the neighbours, who it just so happened were already known to Graham. This was another good start to the future, they were superb people, very easy to get along with and able to give us a great insight into the area.

After that we moved across to the block. It's still verdant even though the district has had precious little rain in the last month.

One of Graham's specialties is building dams, so we were very keen to hear any advice he had to offer on the matter, and there was a lot of good advice to be had. Due to the steepness of most of the block, and the fact that the house site is a good 50-100 metres (we don't have accurate topo maps yet, they should arrive tomorrow) above the lowest point of the property, we are faced with the challenge of collecting water and getting it to defy gravity in order to supply the house and gardens that will be around it with liquid sustenance.

A couple of spots I had selected as suitable were discarded due to requiring too much earth to be moved for the amount of capacity gained. A couple of other decent sites were discovered and some initial plans involving piston pumps to transfer water were sketched out. Once we've settled we'll be going back with the level to run it over and see what the best options will be.

We were keen to hear Graham's general opinion, as he's had a lot to do with farming and growing things, and whilst we've had some experience on the small scale, we've never made a decision quite as monumental as buying this land. I guess it would have been ideal to have him look over it before a final decision was made, but circumstances didn't permit. Still, the news was good at the other end anyway. Except for the challenge of getting the water up high everything else checked out. Lots of good timber, good soil and good climate, with pastures in a reasonable state. All in all an A+ as far as we're concerned.

We've started on some basic sketching of ideas for the place, though we're not going too in depth until we've had the time to do a better analysis of the land. We have also started to seriously consider how we are going to approach the building and power issues, with some pertinent questions asked and answered over at Aussies Living Simply.

Still more waiting game ahead of us, but we are now more assured of our purchase. Unless we have a fair disaster of some kind, we should be settling in a little under 6 months (and counting!) and then we will be free to roam at will...

Thursday, 13 September 2007

More Than A Hint

I've been actively resisting getting too excited about the new land, until now! I can't believe that another month has slipped by in that time, but it was certainly well spent.

This morning we heard that our loan for the land has been approved, meaning we can get in and sign the contract sometime in the next few days (well, probably not over the weekend, but sometime)

We may still have up to six months to wait before settlement, given that we need to get a DA approved on the house and site we prefer, and the vendor needs to register a boundary change, but still, that's six months to success, rather than eternity to no result at all.

Now issues that were previously not of great concern can come to the forefront. How do we afford to get the power on to the site? At somewhere in the vicinity of 40k that will be a challenge.

Then, do we go the owner builder route, or fork out the extra cash to get someone else to do it in a reasonable amount of time? The big issue with that part of the plan is that finance for the building would require selling our current residence, which would mean making some sort of arrangement to live elsewhere in the meantime.

This is the tough question, and is tied in to the power issue. If we went with someone else building it we would potentially be able to roll the power costs up into the building loan, allowing it all to be done in good time. Otherwise we need to find the money for the power before any other work can begin out there, and then find time and money to do each step of the building. With the two mortgages we may be a bit too stretched to accomplish much.

As for living somewhere else whilst building went on, that would be very difficult for us to do. It would be hard to leave this place for a move to town, even for the few months it would take to build, though that is perhaps overly optimistic and we could be waiting a year, and there's still a lot of things we'd like to do here before we could feel like we were passing on something worthwhile to the next folks to take it up. On top of that we'd like to propagate all the fruit trees we've collected, so that will need to wait until next year at least.

I guess yet again we will leave the question for a while, and that mysterious force that seems to propel us forward on our path will come up with a solution, it has done so far on this roller-coaster ride, for which we are most grateful.

I would like to share another bit of "universal assistance" we've been gifted with. Due to the way the deal is structured we were looking at waiting up to a year before settlement could occur. This was causing me some concern, as when we get started we'd love to do it sooner rather than later. I'd resigned myself to waiting that year, and had left it.

The solicitor requested the inclusion of a clause in the contract to cover refinancing in the event the whole process did go longer than six months, as we could only get the finance held open for that long. After that we would need to apply for a new loan.

The vendor, upon hearing of this, was not impressed, thinking we were setting it up so we could bail out, rather than understanding that we would need to refinance as the loan offer would expire. Once he had this explained to him, he was off to his solicitor and organised that his 9 month boundary adjustment time was to be 3 months, resulting in a total time to settlement of 6 months. Just like that the year of waiting is halved, and happiness, of course, doubled!!

We've got the most exciting bit to go now. We can begin to plan where things will go, in a pseudo-permaculture fashion. We need to run the block as a money spinner in order to meet tax office requirements, so we will need to blend that requirement with our desire for a lifestyle as self-sufficient-ish as possible. It's a challenge to look forward to.

I've always enjoyed propagating trees, they have such a permanence about them that growing them from seed gives me much greater satisfaction than any other type of plant. Up to now I'd had to avoid growing too many as there just was not the room for them here. 6 Oak seedlings in the glasshouse are now the beginning of a new age of propagational joy, we should have enough room to fit in an entire forest now :)