Off-grid home

Wayne Kirkwood and Julie Brauman of Bethanga, Victoria, wanted to build their own home, even though Wayne – a shearer by occupation – had no previous building experience.

The Paal system looked simple. “We spent 12 months looking and researching and in the end we kept coming back to Paal,” says Julie.

“We chose their Shoalhaven design, because the floor plan allowed us to make the most of our block of land, which has beautiful views over a weir,” she says.

“We put in higher ceilings and a lot more glass than is detailed in the standard design to open the home to the view. And we’re lucky that because we’re on 100 acres, curtains and blinds just aren’t necessary.”  

They also added an alfresco area to one end of the home.

Four bedrooms mean there’s plenty of space for the two children who live at home with Julie and Wayne, and always some extra room for the five older children who come and go.

The couple were delighted to discover that not only was the kit home easy to put together but the back up and ongoing support from Paal, as the build progressed, was second to none.

They wanted their home to be completely off-grid. The pitched roof made it possible to build with the perfect angle for solar panels and use only the solar power they generate themselves. This did mean they had to use alternative lights from those specified in the design, but the flexibility of all Paal homes meant that was not a problem.

The water supply comes from a large tank that collects rain from roofs of the house and the shed, and Julie and Wayne recently built a big new dam on the property as the source of water for the garden.

A fireplace heats the home in winter, using firewood collected from the property, and they will install ceiling fans for the summer.

Costs were naturally a consideration for Wayne and Julie. The home was built within budget, and because the electricity, water and heating all come from natural sources, it is very cheap to run as well.

“Wayne is so proud of himself for being able to build this home for the family. And it’s everything we hoped it would be,” says Julie.