Comedian Akmal Saleh and his wife Catie had dreams of living an idyllic alternative lifestyle in the Byron Shire hinterland town of Huonbrook.
They purchased a 7-acre property with a 1-bedroom shack and planned to build their dream home and live happily in the rainforest. The reality, however, was constant rain, leeches, giant rats and snakes. They raced back to their café latte lifestyles in Byron Bay, scrapped the very expensive plans for their dream home, and the ‘shack and land’ package went on the market. The only problem is their shack is not an approved dwelling. So Andrew and the team really had their work cut out, negotiating with council to start the process of making this a legal dwelling.
Summary of Works – Inside
The main aim with Akmal and Catie’s unapproved dwelling was to tick as much off the DA approval list as possible, making it easy for new owners to convert it into a legal home.
The French doors off the main bedroom led out to a dangerous drop so they were removed and replaced with a full length Stegbar window with a child safety lock. The windows throughout the rest of the house were old-fashioned float glass, which is dangerous if broken, so they were removed and replaced with Grade A safety glass to comply with Australian Safety Standards.
The existing heating was not compliant with Australian standards but retaining a fireplace was essential for moisture control in the rainforest. Natural stone tiles were laid on the base and hearth for fireproofing purposes then a new flue and combustion wood fireplace were installed.
The old lino was poorly installed and the ripples created a trip hazard. This was replaced with a Choices Flooring vinyl click flooring system that mimics the look of wooden floors at a fraction of the cost.
The wood panelling throughout the dwelling made the small space feel dark and cluttered. Shaynna painted the panelling and walls one colour, Taubmans Metal Glow, which has a white base to help reflect light and make the space feel brighter and larger.
To make the dwelling feel more like a proper home Shaynna dressed the spaces with a mix of rental furniture from Valiant Hire and reclaimed pieces that were sourced from local second hand stores. Bold artwork from local artist Pete Goodlet completed the bohemian look.
Summary of Works - Outside
All the old rotten decking around the house was removed and replaced with new turf. The old awning off the front of the house did not comply with building regulations so it was also removed. To stay on budget Charlie built a new smaller awning using treated pine and laid natural sandstone pavers for flooring. A laundry was created at one end of the new pergola by installing a laundry tub and plumbing and electrics for a washing machine. The area was then dressed with an inviting outdoor setting and potted plants.
The dwelling had insufficient drainage so the old downpipes and guttering were replaced. Charlie installed a dispersion pit drainage system to ensure that storm water drained away from the house and slowly released into the surrounding soil.
Once Charlie had ticked off as many DA Application tasks as his time and budget allowed, he painted the house in Taubmans Low Sheen Scarborough Fair, to blend with the natural environment, and used a darker colour, Juniper Berry, for the trims.
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