Sally purchased a large block of land with a dream of building a forever, sustainable home.
Listen as Sally shares how she was able to create her forever sustainable home confidently, with the help of Undercover Architect’s online courses.
My name is Sally. I live in South Australia. I grew up in a small country town called Strathalbyn. I moved to the city and travelled a lot. And I’m actually a firefighter and got married, had kids. And basically, we wanted to move back to do more of the country life and to be close to family. And I bought this beautiful big block about 12 or 13 years ago, with the dream to build a house on it. And then when I met my now husband, and had the kids and everything sort of fell in place. So now we’ve moved back here hoping to build a life for ourselves back in Strathalbyn. And, yeah, I guess that’s about it really.
What concerns did you have before you started?
I’ve never built before. I didn’t, I didn’t know, you know, the challenges and, and what it could be, you know. I feel like there’s just so many unknowns that now you know. I was very ignorant to the processes and, and the things you could do to build a sustainable house without spending a million dollars. So yeah, it’s been a journey. And then when we got the ability to build, we just wanted to rush, rush, rush.
And then we realised there were actually all these stumbling blocks in the way and making sure we got things right. And we’ve been lucky that we did decide to actually change tack. We were with a builder we didn’t get a good vibe with. And we then moved builders. And it wasn’t, we loved him, but it was just we weren’t communicating really well.
And, and then, yeah … So then now to be … And we actually got married on this block of land as well. And so it’s got a lot of sentimental value to us. And it’s definitely us building our forever home and wanting to be here forever. And yeah, the views are stunning.
That’s our house. And this is our view. It’s a bit messy right now. But yeah, it’s not bad. So this is, yeah, this is our dream.
What have you learned from the Undercover Architect courses?
I wish I knew Amelia’s podcast existed years ago. I basically, I started listening to them, and we’d already signed our contract before I listened to her podcast on contracts and signing, and it was really listening to her podcast going, damn, I should have done that, didn’t do that. And which is fine.
I’m pretty accepting that we are going to make mistakes, and it’s not going to be perfection. And we could have done things better. But you can always do things better, I guess. And where we prefer to focus on the things that we can change and the things that, you know, we can do better still. And yeah, it would have been amazing if I had found her podcast earlier.
I absolutely would have joined the online course and the community because it just would have been amazing and perfect for me. I’m a bit of a control freak, which I’m still learning how much though. But I’ve done a lot of it myself, and a lot of trial and error.
And the unknown of architects and designers was really quite scary to us. We didn’t realise that we should have engaged with the designer independently. We thought that was something you did once you signed on with your builder and the build, you know, that, you know, they manage that for you. And we just, yeah, we were just so unknowing and didn’t realise all the mistakes we were making. And even now that we’ve made them and it’s too late, it doesn’t matter to us.
I actually prefer that I’ve known, I’ve made those mistakes, and that there’s some, you know, ability to have a bit of grace with some of the areas but also know where they can trap us.
And I guess that’s why I joined the Interior Design course, because it was one of the courses where I still had a lot of say and a lot of ability to make changes and do it right. Particularly with the electrical and tiling. Even just little intricate tiling things and making sure, questioning, you know, styles and, and where it starts or not having raw edges and stuff that I, you know, I wouldn’t have thought of, but obviously I want.
I’m like, oh yeah, I don’t want that in my job, or whatever. And making sure things were happening properly. And knowing that, you know, choices that I thought I would have ages to make that I actually needed to make, you know, last week. So it’s been great for that. Amazing.
How did you first discover Undercover Architect?
You know, that’s a really good question. I was trying to rack my brains to figure out how I came across it. I think I was Googling something in my rabbit hole of trying to find good information about something and I think I came across it.
And I only just kind of discovered podcasts in their entirety about six months before, and was already obsessed. And because we live in a regional area, it takes me an hour to get to work every day. So I just love listening to them. So I can’t actually remember how. But yeah, once I got on to them, I just, I was listening to them at one and a half speed just to get through them as quickly as I could, because every single podcast had so much great information.
So I, yeah. And it was interesting, because I was listening … I think it was the interior design stuff, because that was such a stumbling block for me. And I think she just started her interior design season. And I was listening to them and I’m like, oh, hang on, I need to go back. I need to, I need to listen to all the others. So I actually stopped listening to them and then listened to all the other ones first. And yeah, no, it was a smart decision to do that for sure.
But now I tell everyone that will listen, I, you know, I put it up on my Facebook and I’m in a couple groups for energy efficiency, or if I know that someone’s building, I just say, look, do yourself a favour and listen to that Undercover Architect. It’s so frustrating that, not like … Because it’s the … Most of….
It is the most amazing resource hands down and it’s free, you know. It’s ridiculous how much information is in there that can save so much money.
They can save so much heartache, and stress and, and it’s an opinion that doesn’t have the other agenda of, this is how I like to do things. This is how I want to build your house. This is the windows that give me the biggest kick back. And this is the thing I like to install.
It’s actually just, it is honest and true advice that you can then take and then put it into your own situation and process and, and, and inquire about, ‘oh, why aren’t you doing this for the build? Or why haven’t we considered using this company or this heating?’ And just asking those questions, and it’s just, I’m so much more informed.
A lot of people say ignorance is bliss, but I prefer to say knowledge is a gift. To have that knowledge and to be able to act on it. I feel so lucky. It’s great.
What made you decide to join the Undercover Architect online courses?
One of the things that, because I was considering it, because I do think you know, there was a lot of great information even just on her podcast and then I thought well, you know, I should get it and then I’ve got better access to everything.
There was also a couple of discount codes offered in it as well that was like well you know, it’s worth giving it a go anyway because I’m probably going to use this company because they sound so amazing, and like a great product, and all of the product companies that she has actually, you know, backed and had on her, on her podcast have just been amazing. I’ve used a couple of them myself already and just been so impressed.
So yeah, I just thought well, and I also, yeah…
I felt like Amelia is giving all this knowledge and advice in our own time and is so giving. And I wanted to pay her. Like, I think she deserved it.
And I’m like, and I knew that, if that was what was available to everyone, that to get that extra information and the extra questions, because obviously podcasts need to be a certain time, as well. And some of the interviews you could tell they’d gone deeper into things and I wanted to know it all, you know. I wanted to listen to it all. I wanted to know all the advice that they had spoken about, and all of the discussions they’ve had.
And her and Frances, and her utilising Frances, particularly in the interior design podcasts, you know. She’s an experienced expert in her own right, but to acknowledge that. To be able to access someone that it was their bread and butter of interior design, that was what they lived and breathed. I think that was so humble, but also so fantastic, because it’s a different point of view in a similar area, and field, but, but different, you know. She’s more into the design, whereas Frances is into, specifically the interior design.
And I thought that was great. They worked so well together, and their conversations were always so giving of just so much amazing advice that I didn’t want to miss out. So to know that there were longest transcripts. Yeah, that was something I was willing to delve into.
What are you doing differently because of this Undercover Architect course?
There’s so many things. Engaging TileCloud, they’re an amazing company that she recommended, and we use them and their design help to pick out tiles, was so overwhelming for us to pick tiles. And to have that design help and be with a company that only had great tiles on their website and made it just so easy when you’re time poor, especially with two young kids. Going to the shops with a two and a four year old to pick tiles is not fun. Yeah, we definitely used that.
And there’s a couple other companies that Amelia has steered us towards that we just know we’re going to get great help and great service. And we have engaged with them already and found that thus far. We’re still in the early stages.
And being aware of our electrical layout and the importance of pendants and choosing size well before. We thought you know, like now this is when we’re making those decisions instead of, we would have left that way later and would have been too late to be like oh, can we put a pendant here once it was all clad in and whatnot.
So doing all that, there’s just so many things. I’ve learned so much about the importance of engaging an interior designer and not thinking we can just do it all ourselves.
So it just gave me a lot more confidence, which was great. And that, just that, that really neutral advice, which was just, I think. so important. It’s not someone that has an ulterior motive.
And it’s what I wanted to say before. Yeah. There’s no ulterior motive with what Amelia is providing, it is all just really good sound advice, that gives you the opportunity to make informed, great decisions, which I’m so grateful for.
How have you benefited from doing Undercover Architect’s courses?
I think I’ve avoided being boring in, for the fear of doing wrong things. So avoiding just picking boring tiles, because, you know, it’s, it’s just too much of a commitment to do something different. And I think it’s encouraged me to actually, you know, put my own stamp on it and to utilise the other design teams with TileCloud, which was suggested and Liz Hayward and her interior design company, you know.
It’s given me a lot more confidence to step out a little bit and do something a little bit more personal and also use colour. The stuff on colour psychology has just been amazing and was really great to listen to. And it gave me the confidence to use more colour in the home and on the walls instead of just going neutral and safe.
You know, we don’t want to be safe. This is our house we want to live in forever. We want it to be cosy and warm and inviting and us. And it’s definitely given us more confidence to put our own stamp on that. And, and to get to commit to that a bit more. For sure.