Can you use a green builder and still have a cost effective result?
In our experience the answer is yes. We found that using an Eco Builder not only added to our client’s bottom line, benefited their tenants but also gave peace of mind that they were doing their bit for the environment.
When it came to finding a builder for our granny flats, at first I had one thing in mind; cost effectiveness because this development strategy was all about creating the highest yield possible. We asked our regular brick and tile builders to price a two bedroom 60sqm flat by using their traditional slab/brick/roof tile construction but their price was coming in too high.
Thus our search began for a cheaper way to build the flats without compromising on quality. We researched caravan park style cabins that could be trucked to site but found this method was about the same price as our brick builders, we even looked at converted shipping container ‘boxes’ but they were not up to our standards. Then we found our Eco Builder.
I’ll quickly explain what is involved with this development strategy. First we locate a house in a strong rental area, one with ‘good bones’. By that I mean a large house with at least 3 -4 bedrooms and one that doesn’t need too much renovation. The property needs to tick a number of boxes but in particular be Complying so we can use our private certifier to fast track the Complying Development application to build the granny flat. We bring the house up to the standard where we could maximise the rent, there is an income during the build phase and on completion the flat is rented usually to a separate tenant than the house. The result is a 9% gross yield.
So back to our Eco Builder...I was impressed to see his company is certified as a Climate Friendly Business encompassing not only their corporate operations but every granny flat and house they build. They undertook extensive assessment and calculations to estimate emissions associated with the construction of each home. On completion, clients are supplied with a certificate from Climate Friendly, certifying that during the construction process emissions of greenhouse gasses were minimised and then offset. This reduces the adverse affects on the planet throughout the stages of design, construction and completion.
Their process includes using alternative building materials and construction methods. By using sustainable and lightweight building products and cost efficient design principles they achieve energy efficiency. They’ve even won lots of awards and are considered innovators in their field.
Transporting products to building sites usually results in the use of large quantities of both fuel and other resources. This builder has put in place a system to greatly reduce the amount of transport required and therefore reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses being emitted during the construction process. One of the key facets of this is their ability to produce our granny flats to lockup in their factory, enabling a single delivery of the flats and all components needed to complete lock-up stage onsite. The construction process takes approximately 50% of the time required for a typical slab/brick/tile house.
As well as the faster completion time and environmental benefits there are other positives as well, electricity bills are reduced, water bills are minimised and our clever granny flat design reduce the need for heating & cooling. Utilisation of natural air movement for cooling, solar or gas heating and appropriate positioning of the flat on-site is all part of the process. Research has shown that heating and cooling account for an average of approximately 40% of household energy costs across Australia. Homes designed to suit the climate of their location result in a significant reduction in the amount of energy required to heat and cool the home.
So we found a winner with our Eco builder, his tender came in 15% lower than the other builders, our flats are completed in half the time, tenants will save on their bills and we have a carbon neutral result. To me that’s a win-win-win!
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