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  • Writer's pictureHolly Rickard

The Ausly House: An affordable & sustainable house made from Australian products. Part 2: The Plan

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Coastal House Designer
Passive House Design

Follow the journey of designing & building The Ausly, from idea to completion.


Now we've covered the dream & the driver in Part 1. Now it's time to explore the plan.

Long Term Plan

Treating the project as an investment from the outset, not just a holiday house or a home means that opportunities and decisions can be tested against these criteria first. The long term plan is to gain equity from the property to buy & build another, rent this one as a holiday let, that is neutral or positively geared.

Choosing the area

Non-negotiables for the area included:

  • Affordable = under 450k total house and land cost

  • Near a wine region = within 30 min drive to several cellar doors

  • Near a swimming beach = within 3 blocks of beach access

  • In an area that has an established tourist market

  • Large enough population to support work opportunities

The next step was to gather research data on demographics, property prices, holiday lets, vacancy rates (from places like Airdna & AlltheRooms), travel distances to amenities & airport on several suburbs that we're shortlisted from the criteria above. This research was largely from, online resources, previous travel experiences and word of mouth suggestions.

The shortlist consisted of; Newcastle NSW, Port Macquarie NSW and McLaren Vale SA.

I live in Newcastle NSW (in a rental), near the Hunter Valley wine region and near some stunning beaches. I love the lifestyle. For me, it's not affordable to buy the type of property I've defined above. I'd either have to wait 10 more years to save a deposit to buy in a neighbourhood that fits the bill here or move to a neighbourhood that does not have the potential for the type of property I would like to invest in.

The same goes for Port Macquarie, properties are beautiful, and lifestyle is great, but out of my price range, and did not have a large enough population to support work opportunities.

That left McLaren Vale - happy with that, what a magnificent place!

Defining the timing, budget & scope


  • The land must be on a Torrens title - a freehold investment, free from body corporate incumbrances.

  • The land must have room for a three-bedroom house with a single garage and a modest yard. (undecided if single or double-storey)

  • Area to be relatively flat and not in hazard zone (i.e. bushfire, flood, earthquake-prone land) to moderate building costs

  • Info can be found on the planning regulations or websites


  • Mortgage repayments on the finished land and house value would be able to be covered by potential holiday let earnings including estimated vacancy schedule

  • Minimum return on investment for the house and land at the time of occupancy= 20%

  • Total project cost to be under 450k

Timing - allowed roughly 12 months for the project, broken up in approximate stages

  • 3 months to find the property

  • 4 months for settlement & planning

  • 5 months for construction

After more due diligence online including

  • Detailed demographics from Microburbs, Onthehouse and general searches. (I uncovered the fact that Maslin Beach is a nudist beach for instance)

  • The average per square meter land cost (I did the rough maths on recent sales data)

  • Research into new development and infrastructure projects, (are they building a school, bunnings, train station etc near this suburb?) How will this impact property prices? For instance, at the time of writing, they are building a new motorway that connects the North and South of Adelaide - good for prices in McLaren Vale.

  • Research into local planning laws and statutory development costs

  • Detailed Google maps detective work (locating potential undesirables like waste disposal sites, nurseries, quarries) & using street view to check out the look and feel of the neighbourhoods.

Now time to plan an in-person visit to these shortlisted suburbs:

Sellicks Beach

Port Willunga

Aldinga Beach

*In my next post, I'll teach you how to define what you want out of a specific site.*

Holly is an accredited building designer, director of Holly & Co. a building and interior design studio based in Adelaide.

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