On Penrose Street in Blackbutt stands a unique award-winning home built with love by its owners, with a reluctantly placed “For Sale” sign out the front.
Scott Rowe and his partner built the property around six years ago, making it as sustainable as possible.
“We’re just aware that the world’s resources are finite and we wanted to demonstrate it was possible to build a normal size house in a normal suburb using a fraction of new building materials that standard houses do now. We believe in looking after the earth and the less impact we can have the longer those materials are going to last,” Mr Rowe said.
“We’re reluctantly giving up this home to work on another sustainability project.”
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home – plus study – is nearly completely off the grid and includes solar hot water, a water-treatment station that also acts as a fish pond (and air conditioner), permaculture garden and 28 tree orchid, plus recycled and sustainable building materials.
“Our aim was to build it out of either recycled, recyclable or sustainable products so when houses are demolished in 100 years time … they could pull the whole thing apart and use it elsewhere. We recognize, building materials are not an infinite product and will run out sooner or later,” Mr Rowe said.
It sits on a 1370 square metre block at the end of a battle-axe but still walking distance to the train station, shopping centres and schools.
The bricks are made by Timbercrete and incorporate recycled sand and sawdust into the mixture to create handmade and air-dried mudbricks.
Mr Rowe admitted sourcing the materials was a little difficult at first but it became “a bit of an obsession”.
Much of the timber has deep history embedded in the grains like hardwood railway signal towers and floorboards from old homes.
The house has also been designed to heat and cool itself by taking advantage of natural light and ventilation, which in turn reduces energy costs.
Meantime the reason the Mr Rowe wanted a black water treatment system was because he says: “Australia has one of the best quality drinking waters anywhere in the world … and we flush toilets with it”.
“Most of the world would die to drink the water that we use to flush toilets, so we wanted to demonstrate there are simple ways you can [be self sufficient],” he said.
While he also completed a certificate in permaculture design to design the yard to be completely edible and produce up to two tonne of food each year. This includes eggs, vegetables and silver perch fish.
“Most things in the house have two or three features,” Mr Rowe said.
“Like the aquaponics grows fish, the vegetable scraps we can’t use we feed to the fish, the worms from the worm farm we feed to the fish, the fish feed us, the vegetables feed us, the water produces an air-conditioner and is also pleasant to look at - so yeah, everything in the house is designed like that to have multiple functions.”
14 Penrose Street Blackbutt is listed by Zest Residential in Gerringong
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The story Getting off the grid in an eco-friendly Blackbutt home: photos first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.