When I returned from Tajikistan last August my body was a bit of a wreck and motivation was lacking. I was
looking forward to a relaxing summer at home to recover some energy but instead we got hit with the bushfires. At times we had fires right up to our backyard in Porepunkah and had to evacuate three times. We were lucky not to lose any property like some but having a bushfire bear down on you really makes you think what’s important to you.

With my partner recently graduating as a vet and moving to NE Victoria we’ve started thinking about putting down some roots and having a bit more permanence in our lives. Although I’m originally from the outskirts of Melbourne I’ve always loved the alpine region and have been dreaming for many years about settling here permanently. With Tash finishing uni (finally!) we can start thinking more seriously about where we want to be in the long term.

We’ve always loved the idea of building something ourselves. Using natural materials that you’ve had some hand in crafting really appeals to me and I’ve enjoyed playing around milling timber and learning a bit of metal work in recent years. I’ve slowly been stockpiling timber and other bits and pieces which could be turned into cabinetry or bench tops in the future.

We’ve started to look more at what’s out there in terms of designs that suit owner-builders with minimal experience on the tools. Tash likes the idea of building with cob (a mix of clay and straw) but I like the look of a hardwood post and beam frame with mud bricks. Both types of material are quite malleable and are forgiving if your walls aren’t perfectly square- ideal for first timers like us!

There’s certainly likely to be some challenges as any design is going to need to consider the increasing risk of fire and extreme weather events. We’re also big fans of Grand Designs and know that budget blow outs and relationship challenges will also likely be part of the journey! It’s exciting to throw your energy into something where you’re a beginner and everything you learn is new.

Rob