· Undertaking some major renovation tasks at our previous house provided us with some building experience
· Choosing subcontractors wisely (recommendations are useful). The cheapest is not always the best. Look after subcontractors (cups of tea etc). A good relationship will often yield good advice and valuable information. We may have just been lucky but every one of our subcontractors did an excellent job, fitted in with us and were very helpful. Many contractors are happy for you to reduce costs by doing some of the work yourself.
· Having access to paid long service leave enabled a lot of work to be completed in a shorter period of time
· We contracted a qualified builder (Rod Sheppard) to help us erect the frame, and we worked as his labourers. This saved us money, gave us the chance to learn skills on the job, and meant this complex stage was completed in a quarter of the time it would have taken us to do by ourselves.
· Attend as many house tours as you can, to get ideas for your own project and to learn from other people’s experiences.
· Publications such as Earth Garden, Renew Magazine, Grass Roots and Owner Builder frequently have useful articles and useful contacts. These and many helpful books can be found in local libraries.
· Improve your bbq skills so that friends look forward to visiting (and helping when you need an extra hand). This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.
· Learn as much as you can about good design. By this we don’t mean the so called “good style” demonstrated in coffee table magazines, but design that works for you and the planet over the long term.
· Rod Sheppard - Marysville –survived the fires (Builder, building designer, draughtsman, building timber supplier) Top photo
· Kevin Jones -Chirnside Park (Very skilled and knowledgeable. Did our excavations, driveways and dams) Bottom photo
· Bill Hayes -Lilydale (Plumber & House fire defence sprinkler systems)
· Stephen Cook- Glen Iris (Top class Electrician)
· Glen Morris of SolarQuip Healesville (Solar Supplier & Installer)
· Regis Bezencon Healesville (Solar Supplier & Installer)
· Janelle Murphy of Australian 5Star -Bayswater (Energy Rater who will work through the process with clients, and Insulation consultant)
· Alan Duke of A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems - Hastings. Disposal of all grey and black waste water. Middle photo