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Motorhome Travels - June 2012

30/05/2012

The Shouse is finished!

We are very pleased to be able to finally announce that the shouse project is FINISHED.

On Tuesday the 26th of June our local council building inspector completed his final inspection and gave the project a tick of approval - the following day the plumbing inspector gave us the same thumbs up and with that our red tape battle was won.

I thought for the benefit of anyone who might be considering a similar project it would be nice to recount all the issues and things we learned along the way. I will do this in a series of posts (so as not to bore the pants off too many people).

2008 - here would be a good place for a shed. - [Click for a Larger Image]
2008 - here would be a good place
for a shed.

The Shouse plan and the objective

Firstly - what and why?

We purchased the block of land at Mt Perry about three years ago. We liked it because it was quiet, had lots of bird life and it had water. The availability of water from a well meant that we could camp on the land almost indefinitely. Well that is what we thought ... after camping for a few weeks we received a visit from the local council health inspector. He told us quite clearly that unless we had a "class 1 dwelling" on the property we could not stay. A class 1 dwelling is one that has been approved for living and has had an occupancy certificate issued for it (ie - NOT a shed). At this point we became a bit disheartened with Mt Perry and left. It was however a very important thing to know - while there are (at least) 10 people that we know living in sheds, caravans or motorhomes nearby, there is always the possibility that you could be required to vacate. The only real solution is to build something that is approved.

One other important thing to keep in mind is that it is difficult if not impossible to gain approval to convert a existing shed into a dwelling (due to the inability to inspect the foundations after the concrete is poured and the walls after the lining is on). Clearly if ever we were to build on the property it would have to be by the book.

23rd of Nov 2011 - ground is broken - [Click for a Larger Image]
23rd of Nov 2011 - ground is broken

In 2011 we decided to explore the options for erecting an approved, livable building on the property. We looked at a number of options including a transportable, relocated houses and kitset houses. Because we really have no desire to move out of the bus and stop travelling, the actual dwelling aspect was secondary. What we really wanted was a big shed that we could take the bus into to undertake maintenance. The shouse idea was born.

The concept was to purchase a large kitset steel shed - then convert one third of that into the "approved dwelling". We decided on an American barn style with a tall center section (to allow the bus entry) and set about talking with the various governing bodies. The most helpful of all was the local building inspector who had no issues with what we were proposing and was very happy to answer our never ending list of questions about rules, regulations and requirements.

Due to the (serious) lack of funds it was very clear that we would have to undertake as much of the construction work ourselves. As it turned out we hired external labour for the laying the concrete slab and installing the septic system, all the rest of the work was undertake by the two of us (and on occasion by our unfortunate friends who foolishly came to visit). So in a nutshell, the objective was to build (as cheaply as possible) a large shed with an attached council approved dwelling.

 

I will post more on the subject of what mistakes we made and what we learned along the way in the next few days. I will also post a gallery of photos of the finished project.

 

So when do we leave? Well we have a fairly large job to do re-surfacing and reorganising the roof of the bus. This will take a few weeks - but when this is done we are outta here!


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