Making It real
My story in attempting to bring a new housing type that improves affordability, livability & community resilience
(Please note that this article is one in a series and it may make references to previous articles)
For those who have been there, you know the pain of the hunt. For those that are yet to embark on it, don’t read on, it might prevent you from ever starting. Looking to buy property is a torturous process particularly when you’re not swimming in cash and going to open inspections at times felt like being at boxing day sales. Everyone is potentially an enemy who might take away your prize, and the worst comes out of you as you indiscreetly publicise every discovered fault in the hope it would discourage others or at best, suppress the price. The dislike for the process started at the front door.
Each time you arrived, you would be welcomed by some swami, wet eared estate agent who barely knew more than the address they were standing on. I quickly came to despise this unhelpful profession as I was made to feel like a number as they barley lifted a finger. This was occurring in what was a golden time for property in one of Australians biggest property boom. It was 2009, and even though the Global Financial Crisis was soon to take centre stage, there was pressure to buy anything as house prices were seemingly rising weekly. It was like running a race; if you didn’t cross the line first, you were forced to do another lap. It was exhausting. The worst part? Was coming to realise the limited options my budget allowed. The realisation brought disappointment, sadness and anger all at once. It was a hard pill to swallow, but you didn’t have much time to ponder because the market was so hot, and you just needed to keep running to stay in the race.
Even though starting in Northcote, I would spread my glance into Thornbury and then to Preston. Losing at auctions on the way I would constantly wonder about affordability and how anyone, in particular, young families would ever be able to afford anything in here. It was during this time that I was contemplating the value of a multi-generational house as I was looking for alternative affordable options. There had to be a solution through design, and I was adamant that it existed in a flexible house design which could adapt with its homeowner. After being recharged with this new design approach, I set some core criteria. The house needed to be in an irreparable state to justify its demolition, it needed to have a north-facing backyard, it needed to be within reach of a train line to reduce car dependency, and it needed to be facing a train line. The last point was a touch mad, but I had some logic behind it. Being along a train line not only meant it would attract a discount due to noise pollution, but it would also force me to learn more about acoustic engineering. Understanding acoustic attenuation would be important not just because I was seeking to design a house where two families could live independently of each other, it would increasingly become important as society increasingly lived closer to one another. We rarely give enough consideration of the impacts of sound; however, I was adamant that this would change over time.
With my new criteria, I watched the market like a hawk, and there I was, two days before Christmas bidding for a house that met the set criterion. As expected, there was only a small number of bidders, two to be exact, and before the end of the day, I was the proud owner of my modest piece of land with a house that had no kitchen and defied the rules of physics. Even though I was on this journey for some time, this was certainly a milestone. It was now to convert all my thinking and ideas into something tangible. It was now my time to make this real.
Over 25 years experience in both the private and public sectors o f property
A lover of technology and design that is practical, beautiful and improves the way we live not as a individuals but as a thriving community.