Age no barrier to building the perfect country cottage

Ted Lowen and Denise Derrick, an energetic couple in their late seventies, owner-built a Paal home and wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again.

The retired couple from Orangeville, New South Wales, purchased a 340-acre block at Nambugga, near Bega, to run beef cattle – or in Ted’s words “a glorified hobby farm”.

Initially they renovated the old dairy to live in. “It was comfortable and had everything, but we thought we’d make more of the investment by putting a home on the block,” he said.

Denise discovered Paal by chance when researching project homes online. “I really wanted an older style home,” she said. “It was by accident that I found Paal, and they had just the country cottage style I liked.”

Paal’s Shoalhaven suited both the couple’s budget and their vision. Denise made a single modification to the design, removing a partial wall between the lounge and dining areas, creating more living space to host their extended family.

They’re still separate rooms, with a sense that there’s somewhere else to go. But it certainly did open up the interior.”

Having built their town home in Orangeville in 1980, Denise and Ted knew their way around the process and felt confident about owner-building again. “I’m still very active and a sole trader as far as the farm is concerned,” Ted said.

However, he admitted to receiving a little help from neighbours. “We needed another hand for standing up the frame.” A builder friend came down to assist with jobs like putting on the roof because, as Ted puts it jokingly, “he has more brain cells than I have.”

Deliveries arrived from Paal on time and anything missing was supplied within a day. “Michael, Doug, Sarah and Liz at Paal became like family. I’m not exaggerating, such lovely people.”

Now that the cottage is finished, the couple spend as much time there as possible. “We’re so proud of it,” said Ted, who is more than happy to recommend Paal to others. And despite his 78 years, he would gladly do it all over again.