How to build a house - step one
Who: We are a family of four: a writer (me), industrial scientist (James), lego engineer (three-year-old Fox) and destruction specialist (one-year-old Huxley). I don't have any building credentials and if you passed me on the street you'd be none the wiser because I haven't appeared on national TV. I am an ordinary house-building Kiwi, or rather, a mad-enough-to-try-and-build-a-house-with-small-children-and-go-into-debt-forever Kiwi. I do, however, have an ongoing love affair with words, which began when I won a writing prize at the age of seven (or that's what my mum says).
So rather than contributing to the building process by picking up a nail gun, (I've seen what those puppies can do) I'll be setting down the how, where, and what-the-what for any of you house-build dreamers who care to join me. I'll also be sneaking into to a few properties for inspiration along the way.
Why we're building: We wanted more room. We thought building a house would be a cheaper, more fulfilling, generally better, shinier, more awesome thing to do than renovating something else.
Where: We bought a section. A year and a half later we're just about ready to get the building application ball rolling. Oh what romantic fools we are.
What: Instead of going all Grand Designs and building ourselves (see aforementioned reality of nail gun danger) we'll be hiring a team of swarthy builders. But because our dreams are almost certainly too big for our bank balance, we will be doing work ourselves and there is every possibility we'll end up living in a caravan for some part of the process. Madness may ensue, because small children, when caged, have been known to attack.
How: There will be some chat about smart green products, passive technology and thermal mass because it makes sense to us and our future bank balance to use sustainable products where we can. However, we don't have the cash to build a fully passive house or use the most beautiful eco products. We're looking for some sort of middle ground. We want to use products and services that are as environmentally savvy as we can manage. Everything has to work as hard as it possibly can for us, especially because we have a south facing section. So rather than a Passivhaus, a solar oasis or an eco bubble, we're planning a smart, green-thinking house.
So... There will be issues. Some of them have already shown their nasty warty heads. But when we get down to the section and soak in the quiet thrill of hearing nothing but bird song, discovering the neighbourhood kids still roam the streets with wooden swords and build huts out of our stack of discarded bricks, and seeing the ocean work her pale blue fingers through the mangroves, we'll remember why we're doing this.
There will always be issues. But there will be ways around them as long as we get the right advice (or at least keep the three year old out of the paint).
- Any of you been through the build process? What advice do you have for our family of four?