The environment was firmly front of mind when Doug and Linda Bryant built their off-the-grid Gembrook house in 2015.
Sure, they knew if they spent a bit of money on green features then they would reap the financial rewards in the long run.
And after almost six years living free of power and water bills at 60 Parker Rd, they have already saved plenty of cash.
But Mr Bryant said they ultimately created the green machine “because this is where the world has to be”.
“If you can spend the money, by all means do it for long-term for your savings, but also for the environment,” he said.
The pair has now listed the bush-side 5.18ha property to downsize, giving a buyer the chance to live sustainably from the get go.
The $1.3m-$1.4m package includes a 5kW solar panel system connected to batteries, thick wall and roofing insulation, double-glazed windows, several water tanks and a wastewater collection and distribution system.
Mr Bryant – who works in the construction field – and his wife installed all this themselves. They also polished the concrete floors, which now soak in sunlight from the home’s northern orientation to “radiate heat”, and planted a garden of natives that do not need watering.
The couple collaborated with a registered builder and had an inspector check the green features to “make sure everything was done professionally”.
“We have no water bills because we collect our own water (and) we’ve never run out,” he said.
“As far as power bills are concerned, the average cost in the area is $1000-$1200 per quarter. But since we had the back-up generator installed, we haven’t had a bill. (We’ve saved) $24,000 over six years, which is exactly what the system cost. It’s paid itself off.”
An orchard, raised vegetable beds and a chicken coop on the property allow the Bryants to cut down on shopping trips, too – not a bad thing in the Covid era.
But only a five-minute drive away is the Gembrook township, where eateries such as Spencers, The Independent, The Station House and The Local await, alongside tourist attraction Puffing Billy.
Mr Bryant said he would miss the “beautiful panoramic view” framed by his home’s expansive windows when he and his wife move to Venus Bay, where they planned to create another eco-friendly abode.
Harcourts Pakenham agent Tain Bartholomew said tall ceilings combined with the big windows to create a sense of space inside the single-storey home.
A low-emission Pyroclassic wood heater warms the living and dining area, which features a bespoke kitchen with wooden benchtops and a butler’s pantry. Bi-fold doors and a servery window ensure a seamless transition between this space and the outdoors.
There is also a study nook and three bedrooms, one with an ensuite, a walk-in wardrobe and a private deck.
Mr Bartholomew said about 2-2.5ha of the property’s land was cleared, and the rest was bush where birds, kangaroos, wallabies, deer and other animals were in abundance.
“You can grow anything in that beautiful Gembrook soil, or there are some awesome equestrian trails around if you wanted to have horses,” he said. “It’s a great little spot.”
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