House and Land Packages: a foot in the property market

house-and-land

It’s the great Australian dream: owning your own home. For many, being in a position to own a  piece of real estate is the single most important step towards laying down the foundations for the future. It’s more than just having a little slice of something to call our own…it’s about obtaining financial security and achieving that sense of having made it. But for a lot of people in today’s society, this great Australian dream now seems like more of an unachievable fantasy.

Let’s consider those poor generation Y’s and X’s for a minute. This is the generation who grew up thinking home ownership would occur naturally, you know, like one of those milestones that just seems to happen when you became a ‘real adult’!  Unfortunately, this just simply is not the case anymore.
Entering the property game in today’s market often requires a financial commitment many individuals, couples and families cannot meet. Our ever increasing living costs mean putting aside money for a house deposit is a task beyond comprehension. The question for people is, ‘How can I afford a mortgage when I can barely make my bills?’. And the harsh response is usually ‘You can’t!’.  No wonder more and more people are staying at home with their folks until their 30’s! Sure the home cooking is great at home but let’s be honest here, your own place would be awesome if you could afford it right?

However there is some good news here. Home ownership is becoming increasingly possible, as many hopeful home owners are being drawn to the benefits of housing options like home and land packages. For years now we have seen TV ads from developers like Dennis Homes, Metricon and more recently,  companies like Inspired Homes builders in Melbourne have joined the charge, all boasting varying levels of affordable housing options, great locations and importantly, ‘lifestyle’ features like lakes, parks and cafes. Once confined to the slick streets of the city, cafes and entertainment options are now an integral feature of many developments. Inspire Homes for example, place significant importance on these factors as they know and understand the lifestyle needs of today.
And as a result, the city slickers are leaving their inner city postcodes in droves! Gone are the days of estate living feeling like you’re out in the sticks; whilst many house and land packages are indeed located in some of the state’s growing areas, infrastructure and environmental design elements have become ever-more important in the conception and construction of such housing options. This means everything you need is on your doorstep. Furthermore, many are in fact attracted to the ‘quieter’ nature of estate living and hence the booming culture of young families who we see choosing house and land packages with increasing fervour.
And whilst many of us might still drawn to the bright lights of city or inner suburban living, the simple fact is we either can’t afford it or what we can afford, we don’t want i.e. not the ‘right’ suburb/area, no yard or outdoor space, needs expensive repairs and renovation… to name just a few.
So for the price of a dilapidated, small and yard-less flat in hipster central Northcote, you could be sitting back in your Inspired Homes development, your very own architecturally designed 3 bedder, where you’ll be enjoying the view of your manicured lawn from your al-fresco dining space in say, Torquay or Point Cook. Doesn’t sound too bad hey? This is house and land living!

Located in some of the state’s most up and coming areas, home and land packages are the ideal option for those looking to lay down the foundations to their future. The freedom to choose every element of your homes design, the opportunity to select a community that suits your taste and lifestyle needs are major  draw cards for individuals, couples and families. And the best part? You can afford it. And not only can you afford a home that you will be happy to live in for years to come, you have also made a very wise investment. House and land packages, like those available through Inspired Homes, are an astute property investment as their many features enable you have control over where and what you build and enjoy a healthy rental return as they attract high quality tenants.

house-and-land

House and land packages, like those offered by Inspire Homes, are a terrific investment idea for those looking to make substantial equity gains in a relatively short space of time. Leading property experts recommend investors consider the benefits of buying a property they immediately rent, all the while taking in impressive rental returns AND building equity to buy their dream home down the track. In many cases we see rental incomes matching or even surpassing mortgage repayments. Further to this, experts say it is not uncommon to see investors renting rather than living in their own home. The premise here is rather simple: if you are in a position to take on a serviceable loan, buy an affordable property that is guaranteed to see returns…and quickly!

Here are some more great reason to invest in a home and land package:

1. Freedom to choose your land & design your own home
What better way to bring the great Australian dream to life, than by designing your very own home and choosing your very own block of land. With options to suit every budget, you have the freedom to design every aspect of your new home; from number of bedrooms and colour schemes to kitchen and outdoor living spaces, you’ll work with designers to create your ideal space based on your specific needs.  Some home and land package customers aim to build a home that may have future rental opportunities, so during the design phase they are able to maximise features of the home that will attract quality prospective tenants.

2. Future Rental Investment opportunities
Attracting quality renters is easy when you have a beautiful, big and feature-filled home. You will enjoy high returns on investment, as many developed communities attract premium rental rates.

3. Save on Stamp Duty
Save thousands of dollars on stamp duty when you choose a home and land package. This is because stamp duty is only applied to the value of the land itself, as of course the house is not built yet.

4. Maintenance FREE
Newly built homes require less maintenance than older homes and little hard-work is needed to keep your new home looking slick! Although things vary a little from state to state, typically, new builds (including pictures and fittings) are covered by a builder’s guarantee.  This terrific back up is ideal in a rental situation, as maintenance and upkeep will mostly be covered within the builder’s guarantee.

5. Depreciation and tax benefits
In a new home tax deductions may be declared for depreciable assets for example, the construction cost of the building itself as well as its fixtures and fittings.The advantages of depreciation are considerable in a new home and should certainly not be overlooked.  A new investment home costing, say, $250,000 with $30,000 worth of fixtures and fittings will result in approximate reductions totalling $16,000 per year. Furthermore, landlords will enjoy benefits received from claiming for the payment of rates, interest and rental management.

Sydney’s Urban Islands

screenshot-2016-12-22-16-12-11

For many Sydney siders, Cockatoo Island is something of an enigma. It sits at the edge of the city, a relic of our industrial and colonial past, though many of us have never had a reason to go there. However, in recent years, renewed as a venue for art exhibitions and music festivals like All Tomorrow’s Parties, Cockatoo Island has gradually worked its way back into the collective consciousness. Part of this program of renewal has been Urban Islands, a two week intensive studio for architecture students across Sydney’s major universities, as well as interstate and a few international participants, now in its third consecutive year. The aim of the studio is to consider a new way of thinking about the urban condition, notions of density and what it means to be a city dweller in the context of Sydney and the microcosm of Cockatoo Island.

Having never been to the island, I was surprised by what we discovered there. Desolate and windswept, and with a population of rather malignant seagulls, the island is a wonderland of cavernous turbine halls and slowly corroding machinery which has lain dormant for decades. Karin and Mette, our tutors from CITA in Copenhagen, presented us with a somewhat perplexing brief – if the city is about the exterior, what is the interior of the urban condition? How do we perceive interiority? From this basis, we were to work with textile logic to create automated spatial artworks to be installed on the island.

As we explored the island in search of a site, my group, comprising two students from UNSW, one from Sydney University and one from UTS, was particularly intrigued by the details of industrial decay. These once functional, hard working buildings, some of them dating from convict days, are now fragile, laced with rust and spider webs. They no longer define the exterior in the same way, and no longer protected the interior. The conditions we usually associate with the interior, fragility, protection and temporarily, now belong to the exterior. A concept was born. Through the use of stepper motors, we would create a delicate web of self-destructing fabric, a life-size incarnation of decay and the fragile nature of the interior.

Our installation was constructed of two layers of silk organza, laser cut to create an organic web-like structure, to which we attached fishing line ‘tendons’ which would connect to the motors and gradually pull itself apart. To add a further level of complexity, the webs were sewn through with conductive thread, so that as the two webs of fabric broke apart and touched one another, they would trigger the motors to move faster, speeding up the process of decay.

This was all very well in theory, but after two weeks of 14 hour days of pattern-making, prototyping, laser cutting and intensive sewing, I was beginning to feel like a sweatshop worker. Our trips to Cockatoo Island for testing were equally arduous, with driving wind, ice cold hours in the convict hall, and evil seagulls that screeched and waddled through the doors at nightfall, glaring at us like something devised by Alfred Hitchcock. However, as we suspended the delicate webs in the old industrial hall, the installation began to take on a life of its own – a creature inhabiting a long abandoned space, that lived and breathed within the convict built walls of the Island. As we connected the motors and watched the webs stretch and expand, I felt a tug of fondness for our creature, but just as it had for Cockatoo Island, it was time to let nature take its course.

As the various tutors, students, critics and spectators filed into the convict hall, I was pleasantly surprised by the response. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath, and each snap of the fabric elicited a few gasps. People were approaching the installation, walking underneath, one child reaching out to touch it quickly before running away. It seemed as though our fragile, ethereal creature was captivating the crowd in its fleeting moment of life, much like the Island itself. But, despite the industrial decay and the passing of ship building into history, the renewal of Cockatoo Island is creating new links with the city, a reminder of the past which is slowly reintegrating itself into the urban reality of the future.

A new train of thought for Sydney’s regional areas

train sydney

Sydney is a big city. With only a third of its population, we cover more area than London. And yet, Sydney has only one major centre, with a small number of secondary nodes which have developed along train lines. Most commuters from the suburbs have to travel to the city for work, putting enormous strain on limited infrastructure, creating bottlenecks, standstill traffic and sardine-can trains. My commute to university takes an hour and a half each way, requiring three different modes of transport. On the other hand, London has developed a different approach. The villages which form the city are self-sustained, to the extent where as a tourist it is hard to identify a city centre at all. Each village has a distinct character, with dense housing, retail and commercial combining to create localised pockets. The tube is crowded, yes, but it works. London is also a big city, but it doesn’t feel like one.

So it makes sense that certain outlying areas of Sydney’s suburbs have been designated as growth areas, with the intention of creating town centres to become regional nodes, not unlike London’s villages. Designed as a compact new town, Rouse Hill in Sydney’s north west is one of these areas. Originally planned as a major hub along the proposed extension of the North West Rail link, when the rail link was cancelled by the state government in favour of the controversial metro system, Rouse Hill was left in limbo. Despite the cancellation of the train line, the New Town Centre designed by Allen Jack + Cottier was completed in 2007, and comprises a mix of retail, commercial and medium to high density residential development. The Town Centre is successful and well utilized, but the reliance on cars in the area is extremely high, and as a new town, Rouse Hill is in the process of carving out its own cultural and regional identity. The ideal of a pedestrian and public transport based, European-style village is still a distant pipe dream.

So when our Masters of Architecture design studio, run by Chris Abel, asked us to design the Rouse Hill train station and surrounding precinct, I felt that the best way to approach such a contentious issue was with a healthy dose of optimism. The station site on the western side of the New Town Centre is currently home to a slightly sorry bus terminal, and not much else. The Town Centre, having been conceived with the expectation of a train station, presents large blank walls towards passing traffic on Windsor Road, and lacks a visual identity. My partner Deborah and I felt that Rouse Hill, as a new town, needed a building with gravity, that would have a clear and defining presence in the region and put Rouse Hill on the map. Our proposal was about designing for the future – future growth, future population, and a future railway line.

The Rouse Hill Station Precinct that we proposed is intended to create new ways of thinking about living in regional centres. Centred around the movement of people, the aim of our design is to make the site interactive and permeable for pedestrians, make public transport easy and logical, and create the critical density to encourage an active, locally based lifestyle . Dividing the site into long strips, we closed off the existing road which bisects the site, pushing all vehicular movement to the western strip adjacent to Windsor Road, where we provided a bus station, kiss and ride and taxi drop off points.

By curving the strips at different sectional levels, the sculptural form of the station complex creates ribbons of walkable green roof planes which reinstate the undulating landscape of the surrounding area. The indoor and outdoor spaces of the station complex are integrated into the overall structure, which houses the station, a leisure centre, childcare centre and a retail area, to cater for the young demographic of the area and the projected future population, as well as the proposed commercial development to the north east of the site. Two slim apartment towers are proposed at the southern end of the site, with pedestrian access to the turfed roof space. The towers are visible from a distance, beacons announcing your arrival as you approach the New Town Centre.

The grass-roofed station is designed to be green in more ways than one. The existing New Town Centre is a green development, taking pride in its water and energy saving credentials. Equally, it was important that our development be sustainable, utilizing the grass roof to naturally cool the station complex, providing cross ventilation and a green produce wall sited to screen the blank wall of the cinema complex. The public green space at varying levels above ground can be utilised informally or for community evens such as markets and festivals, or for growing produce. In addition, our concrete superstructure is to be constructed partially from ecrete, an environmentally friendly concrete alternative, made from fly ash and other industrial byproducts. The large glazed expanses are to utilize clear glass solar collection technology, a process being developed using thin-film technology to gather solar energy for use in the rest of the building. The Rouse Hill Station precinct is intended to engage people, to inspire them to linger, to wander and to feel a sense of communal ownership.

Essentially, the Rouse Hill Station Precinct design studio was about projected futures, and the future we envisioned for Rouse Hill was one of optimism, a luxury made possible in a new town unrestricted by past mistakes. Of course, one can not be so idealistic as to imagine that the creation of a successful new town will stop people commuting to the city, or solve the problem of urban sprawl onto marginalised land. But it is important that we begin to shift the Australian paradigm from the quarter acre block to a more sustainable future. Unfortunately, Rouse Hill is still waiting for the train, and whether or not they get their rail station remains to be seen. In the mean time, us architecture students will keep the pipe dream alive.

About Style & Focus

Style & Focus, we are focused on providing excellent architectural design. We believe that the ‘loose fit’ of inherent flexibility and intentional longevity are the key to creating sustainable architecture, from the viewpoints of aesthetics, functionality and the total environment.

We also undertake commissions for educational, ecclesiastical and commercial projects. Our experience in these areas ranges from new buildings to alterations + additions, refurbishment projects, adaptive/heritage work and masterplanning.