Jul 052015

The sense of accomplishment created by watching the results of one’s own personal labour is huge. Ever since we “finished” the renovation on the house, we’ve been bouncing around on small and insignificant projects. Cottage-253 is the challenge we’ve needed. The end result may indeed end up quirky and non-mainstream but we’re having a blast getting stuck in and doing everything we can ourselves, re-using building materials and items we’ve stored up over the years.


Love working with wood! Now that the main structure is up progress should be as fast as the budget allows……..

There’s an ongoing update on progress here.

Mar 072015

While I yearn to be free of the “Shitty of Jhb” I’m starting to think it may not be that simple after all. One child will definitely not be keenly embracing a move to Glencairn, he that is in no position any time soon to self provide. The other is keen, but who knows…?

And so, as usual, my mind is spinning with scenarios and contingency plans…..

Assuming we sell up with our desired R2.5M in pocket [a number I suspect may be a little optimistic] and settle the current bond, that leaves R1.5M invested. Roughly calculating on the 4% rule shows this lump sum giving a monthly income of around R5k pm. Not all that exciting!

The other option is to get over our emotional attachments and put the place on the rental market. I’m pretty confident that we’ll pull in a [conservative] monthly rental of R12-14k for 253. So, on the face of it it appears to be a no-brainer! After all, it’s double the monthly income and, if it doesn’t work out longer term, we will still have the option of selling up.

Main challenge obviously is we still need a place to stay, so thoughts are turning to the next big project…..

Draft plans for an off-grid cottage

Draft plans for an off-grid cottage

I see Sand’s eyes light up at the prospect. This is something we can both immerse ourselves in. The beauty of it is that the basic structure is there and the project can be tackled on day at a time, spreading the effort and the cost over a couple of years. We may even get a slot on Amazing Spaces or Grand Designs at the end of the day [ha ha].

We are already doing this in Glencairn, renting and living downstairs, so it’s a short mental step to do the same at 253. A car here, a car there, R20k rental income every month to pay for flights and we’re all geared to take life into the next phase. It opens up option to work in Jhb still but live more by the sea. It solves many potential family housing issues. It seems to have a lot going for it. The more I think about it the more I’m convincing myself it’s a worthy path to follow.

We may go for it and then we may not. Either way we can’t loose. If we do eventually decide to sell up, the addition of a rental unit on the property will only increase the sale value. Besides, Sandy needs a decent construction project again! This just may be our next 2-year DIY challenge!

Nov 132013

Quite difficult to reconcile the “Small House, Tiny Living,  Simplicity” ethos with spending the odd million on a 160sqm house.

Or is it?

Surfer dude

Surfer dude

You need some land to put your tiny, simple house. The land is pricey. So much so that 16 de Villiers was more cost effective than a blank slate. Plus, there’s the added benefit of rental income. A blank canvas in Scarb’s [our first choice of area] would have set us back R500-800k, with no income potential.  We could have bought cheaper somewhere else, Saldanha for instance. But we don’t want to live somewhere else!

Just because one respects and admires the Small House Movement and the entire ethos of “Living Lightly on the Earth” doesn’t mean that you have to be all in or nothing. It’s quite acceptable to take aspects of something and apply them to your own situation. there are no rules, no police monitoring whether you make the grade or not.

I’m a sailor. While I respect and admire those like the Pardeys that are “all in” with the live-aboard and cruising lifestyle, it doesn’t make me any less a sailor because I’ am not “all in”. It just means we are different, have different likes, needs and aspirations. Doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other and take what suites us and still all be happy.

So even if, on the surface, 16 de Villiers Way doesn’t meet the Small House “criteria”, there are and will be aspects of the philosophy that we adopt and make our own. The spend will be on what is important to us. The physical labour on aspects of the home that we enjoy and love.

And that’s all that matters. Not that the world looking in is happy with us but that we are happy in the lifestyle and choices we make there every day!

I think we did a good thing. Can’t wait to get started.