July 7, 2018: Affordable Housing Project in QLD

It’s been nearly a month since I wrote our last Newsletter. That’s because Cintia and I are up in Queensland working on our very own affordable housing project. Don’t get me wrong, we love living in the Greeny Flat and we have a wonderful community of friends and family in the Southern Highlands of NSW. We’re not about to leave any of that behind, but we can’t afford to buy or build a house in that area. It’s just too expensive… prices have more than doubled in the last five years putting property way out of our reach.

In fact the least expensive vacant lots in our area are currently selling for $350,000. So you can imagine how interested we were when we heard you can buy a…

Vacant Lot 35km from Brisbane CBD for $30,000

That’s right… less than 1/10th of the price!

When we heard about this our first thought was, “That sounds way too good to be true. There must be something seriously wrong with it”. I imagined some sort of toxic industrial site out to the west of Brisbane where it would be unbearably hot in the summer, cold in the winter and with no access to public transport or services.

Still, for that price we thought it was worth checking out, so early in the new year we came up to have a look and found that the reality is a very different story. In fact what we ‘discovered’ is a delightful place called Russell Island in Moreton Bay, about half-way between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Russell Island is one of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

Russell Island is one of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands.

The Southern Moreton Bay Islands, including MacLeay, Lamb, Karragarra and Russell Islands are serviced by regular car and passenger ferries from Redland Bay. Quite a few people commute to jobs on the mainland but you could easily live on Russell Island and never leave. There are shops, restaurants, hardware stores, police, ambulance, doctors, a library, a primary school, various clubs and sporting associations, a community centre, etc, etc. Best of all there is an almost perfect climate and a really laid-back and friendly island ‘vibe’.

And yes… land is THAT cheap here. In fact there are plenty of vacant lots for sale in the remoter parts of the island for under $20,ooo.

So What’s The Catch?

Well… as the locals like to say… ‘the catch is a bucket of prawns and some flathead.’

And that’s about the strength of it. So far we haven’t found anything not to like about the place. Sure, the commute by ferry is not for everyone, but we love it. It does make it a bit more expensive to get building materials over to the island but that’s more than made up for by the ridiculously reasonable price of land.

We ended up buying a cleared and level 570sqm lot just 400m from the supermarket and 600m from the ferry landing for $37,000. There are plenty of cheaper lots available but we wanted land within easy walking distance of all the island’s services so we were willing to spend a bit more money.

We now have our building approval which was somewhat complicated by the fact that there is no sewer service on the island so we had to have a waste-water treatment system designed and permitted before we could get approval for the house. But that’s all done now and we have just started the construction of the house.

It’s not going to be anything particularly energy efficient. The climate here is so mild all year round that you really don’t need to go to too much trouble in order to stay comfortable. Our primary focus for the project is affordability. We’re taking advice from local builders as to what are the best materials and techniques to use to keep costs down and still create a comfortable, durable, practical and liveable dwelling that suits the climate and the island lifestyle.

I’ll write more about the details in coming weeks. For now, here’s a picture of the progress so far. Our ‘stumps’ are in and we’ll be taking delivery of the floor framing materials on Monday then its ‘off to the races’.

Building up off the ground on steel 'stumps' will allow breezes to move all around and under the house in summer to help keep it cool.

Building up off the ground on steel ‘stumps’ will allow summer breezes to move all around and under the house to help keep it cool.

1 comment to July 7, 2018: Affordable Housing Project in QLD

  • Good luck with the build. Congratulations on finding an ideal location for the right price. Going to be interesting for me to look at the differences between a sustainable home design in SE Qld and the one I’m working on down here in Melbourne.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>