Thinking of a Tree Change

Article by Matthew Turner – Enduring Domain Building Design
Photography Suzanne Cooke

For those urban dwelling folk tied up in the rat race of city life, you no doubt enjoy having regular escapes to the country to destress. How many times have you imagined yourself making that blissful weekend getaway experience into your permanent lifestyle? For many aspiring homeowners a move to the country is not only more affordable but can also present an opportunity to plan and build your own home.

Falling in love with a piece of land is the easy part. The green pastures, the rich volcanic soil, you can really picture yourself and the family living there. Before taking the leap and putting the offer in there’s a few things to look out for. The planning overlays will be a big determining factor on what you can and can’t do. If it’s in a Farming Zone you will be expected to engage in some kind of commercial farming or agricultural activity and to prove to the council that you need to reside on the land in order to facilitate this operation. Rural Living or other kinds of residential zones will have much fewer headaches in obtaining a planning permit to build a house.

Are there services available to the property? The common view on this has always been that if services are available then that’s a plus. I disagree. With technology today it is becoming much more feasible to be ‘off the grid’ either partially or fully. Consider how much Powercor wants to charge to connect your new house to the nearest power pole. How does this compare with the cost of an off grid solar power system? Being self-sufficient for power means that every summer when everybody wants to run their air conditioners at the same time, you will not be subject to the inevitable power blackouts that will ensue.

If there is no mains sewer available your only option will be to treat your waste onsite. You will need to be aware of any waterways in the vicinity as this will impact the ability for your land to safely discharge treated waste without the risk of contaminating water catchment. The other big issue is bushfire. The closer and denser the bush is to your property the higher the Bushfire Attack Level and this can likely add cost to your build. Being self-sufficient for your energy, water and food needs is a great feeling and saves you money, and this is definitely viable when living in the country. The next trick will be to bring these radical ideas to the ‘burbs!