Going Green - the sustainable investment property thread

Discussion in 'Development' started by theperthurbanist, 5th Nov, 2018.

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  1. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    … AKA ‘can we save the world and make a profit at the same time’

    This has been a long time coming: I want to make a thread about sustainability (green-building; ecologically sustainable development; whatever you want to call it) as it relates to investment properties. It would be great to create a depository of ideas, opinions, debate, resources, and personal experiences.

    There is a lot of information out there around green building and sustainability, but very little that relates to property investors (especially rental properties) and return on investment for sustainability features. Lets change that.

    I’m keen to hear everyone’s thoughts on:
    • Whether you can profit from ecologically sustainable investment properties?
    • Has anyone built or bought a ‘sustainable’ dwelling as an IP? What has your experience been?
    • What sustainability features (if any) are renters demanding?
    • What sustainability features return the greatest profit (rental income) for the lowest cost? (Ie what are the low-hanging fruit?)
    • Questions/answers/ideas about specific sustainable building features/products etc.
    • Anything else related to sustainability!
    Green Building; ESD; sustainability; energy efficiency; solar; grey water; eco-dwellings
     
  2. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    I'll get the ball rolling, given I just read this article: local governments in WA giving grants to rip up your grass and plant waterwise verges:

    Go wild: Perth councils that pay you $500 to rip it up on your verge

    The issue whether to plant grass verges at my IPs has long plagued me. Grass seems a ridiculous choice in places like Perth in terms of needless water consumption, though it still remains the norm. Waterwise ground cover seems like a good alternative though you would want it to be done well (and survive) or it can look pretty scrappy - though the same can be said for grass!

    The other 'low-cost low-maintenance' alternative is simply to rip it up and put down wood chips or gravel, but weeds, spillage and erosion can make it look crap after a while.

    Has anyone got anything but grass on their IP verge?
     
  3. lixas4

    lixas4 Well-Known Member

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    I think an easy option for something sustainable is to have the driveway made out of permeable paving rather then concrete. This is what we did for our driveway, it looks exactly like exposed aggregate, and is held together with a resin which allows water to flow through and naturally soak into the ground, which means there is no need for drainage. Cost i think was about 180 a sqm, which is about double the cost of exposed aggregate, but there is no drainage costs, so it almost evens out.

    Porous Paving Melbourne | New Dawn Permeable Paving

    I like this thread @theperthurbanist, i look forward to getting some good ideas for future builds.
     
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  4. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Love it @lixas4 ! Looks spot-on like exposed ag. I'm always interested in where it is good to 'fly under the radar' aesthetically or 'make a bold GREEN statement' as a selling point. I haven't examined paving/driveways in this context though.

    I hadn't heard of the resin-bound permeable paving, though I have looked into paving types with small gaps in between the pavers (basically a section cut out of the mould for each brick paver to make regular drainage points) which get used a bit in WA, as well as plastic grids which you lay down over a base-course and weed resistant geotextile fabric, then fill with either aggregate or soil and grass - the latter of which is what Josh Byrne has done with Josh's House (a well regarded sustainable home in Perth) - I think the product he used was 'Nearo cell'. Last time I checked the pavers were a bit more expensive than standard (probably simply due to them not being common among the big brick-makers); not sure about the grid system.
     
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  5. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Awesome, me too @lixas4 !
     
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  6. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    This is another plastic grid system as a turf driveway, called 'Grass Cel':
    Turf Driveways • Grass-Cel Australia

    An article on its (supposedly controversial) application in Perth:
    City of Bayswater approves trial of WA's first ever 'turf paving' driveway. The City followed up on the study and said there were no significant issues.
     
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  7. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    I'm putting fans more and more often in my IPs construction. They assist in reaching 6 stars energy rating and are no longer daggy :p

    A lot of my items are intangible and probably don't get more rent money but they help get 6 stars, some items stand out from the crowd, and some are just me helping out. I don't do all of them at once, things go in and out depending on budget and demographic

    Fans Spyda Ceiling Fan - Ventair this fan is modern looking, can have a light added to it and can be used in doors and out.
    LED lights
    Anticon in roof
    Colorbond roof (usually light colours but I do sometimes dabble in the dark arts)
    Fly Ash Mix Concrete (not more expensive)
    Polished concrete floors (this is a lifecycle thing, no solvents, glues, chemicals and no manufacturing negatives of carpets/tiles)
    High Ceilings
    Passive Design
     
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  8. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Love it. Just need to make that 'all' of your builds @Westminster ;) . Fans are such a simple, cost effective addition. I honestly cannot believe how much of our housing stock doesn't have fans (notwithstanding that there were a few decades there of ceiling heights that make them a serious decapitation risk!). I personally can't stand living in a place without overhead fans, but unfortunately I think I am in the minority. I include a fan in every bedroom and living room of every place I build - not even giving people the opportunity to consider not use their AC is a terrible outcome.
     
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  9. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    How do you find the price on the polished concrete floors @Westminster ? I used to assume they were an affordable (as well as sustainable) option but the more I look into it the more it seems like they aren't. A sustainable building designer I was speaking with a couple of months ago who is quite fond of polished concrete mentioned they were often up to 40% more expensive than tiling; and of course you are relying on your slab to be done well. I've also seen a few that have developed cracks after only a few years.

    I've heard 'burnished' concrete can be a more affordable option but I don't now much about it.

    Does the fly ash change anything when going for a polished concrete finish @Westminster ?

    Sidenote: of the dozen or so architecturally designed places I checked out at Open House Perth last weekend one of the strong themes was polished concrete! I'm not sure it translates to a standard 'vanilla' IP fit out though, you definitely need to complete the industrial chic aesthetic.

    All in all though I am a fan and definitely looking into it as an option for my build, if I can work out how to deliver it cheaply but attractively.
     
  10. Blacky

    Blacky Well-Known Member

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    Love the thread!

    I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that WA lags the world in ‘passive design’ that is designing the house to take full advantage of the local weather conditions. I often see roofing facing north. Which doesn’t make sense to me (massive ‘face’ to absorb the total daylight heat). Plus others.

    There are also a lot of ‘other’ building products which are proving to be more passive than our standard ‘double brick’.

    when building a ppor I wil definable be looking into more passive designs, solar, and double glazed windows. As well as ‘alternative’ building products.
    I will also look closely at a grey water system (to water my verge lawn) however from what I’ve seen so far these are fairly exy$$.

    In some parts of europe they build mostly with flat roofs. Then plan their lawn/garden on the roof to both keep the house cool, and provide food/entertaining areas. Novel idea imo.


    Blacky
     
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  11. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    For those in Sydney, there's Stoneset Permeable Paving.

    We've recently refurbished an IP and replaced all interior lights with LED fittings or with LED globes, waterwise tapware throughout & ceiling fans. Ceiling insulation is all in good condition.

    Will any of that return one cent in additional rent? Probably not.
     
  12. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, maybe not. I know LED downlights are a ‘preferred’ item for renters and purchasers; that might be more because they are seen to be ‘modern’ than energy efficient!
     
  13. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    Sometimes it compares quite favourably with tiling. For example if you have some $50 tiles plus $25 to lay + $25 for laying rectified then it's around $100 psm

    Concrete that I have done is approx:
    Polished Aggregate $160 m2 (but only $85 is the actual polishing, the rest is the slab with the aggregate mix)
    Burnished Grey $130m2 (need to check this as can't find actual quote)
    Honed Aggregate $145m2 (concrete + hone)
    Honed Grey $110m2 (concrete + hone
    Exposed Aggregate $98m2 (concrete + expose)
    Exposed Grey $78m2 (concrete + expose)

    Fly Ash blend concrete is slightly lighter than standard grey so will have a bit of a different look but works just fine.

    All of the above need a good relationship between the concrete slab dude and the polisher. I've seen horrific upgrade prices by some builders which don't actually tally to my experience.

    My new Highgate apartments have the fly ash blend and will be burnished. 2 of the Warwick grouped dwellings will have burnished concrete too. It's a bit edgy for Warwick but I think it will go down well - I'm thinking maybe some oxide in the slab as well

    Black oxide burnished with a matte finish upload_2018-11-13_21-50-2.png

    upload_2018-11-13_21-50-2.png
     
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  14. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Just thought I’d mention for those I interested: the websiteYourHome | Australia's guide to designing, building and living in environmentally sustainable homes. is one of the better free resources out there for all things sustainable building design. Also available as a hard-copy book.

    What other resources do people use?

    I’m still yet to find anything good that really examines sustainable construction from an investment property/rental market point of view, ie that assesses the cost/benefit of typical sustainable options and their appeal to renters (hence this thread). I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this.
     
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  15. Whitecat

    Whitecat Well-Known Member

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    I support this agenda.
     
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  16. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    OMG I forgot to post the most important sustainable item!

    The humble lemon and lime tree :p

    Before you laugh. You wouldn't believe the number of positive comments I got from tenants when they were touring the 6 townhouses I built and each had a lemon or a lime tree. The future tenants could imagine drinking a Corona with a wedge of lemon/lime from their tree and never having to buy another expensive lemon again for margaritas, fish and chips etc etc.

    Was it tangible? no. But it's a tree (not the best tree but still a tree), which provides fruit and community - the lime and lemon owners will bond over swapping their fruit.
     
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  17. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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  18. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    Ahh yes, I’ve done a couple of tours of Josh’s House. It’s not the most architecturally stunning of places, but it is the gold standard (that I know of) in affordable sustainability. I‘m still to make my way through all the info online but it looks like a great resource.
     
  19. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    FYI for those interested:

    What's on | Sustainable Living | Switch Your Thinking

    Cool suburbs: Building a comfortable home in a changing climate
    Hear a diverse panel of experts deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations, new research, programs and real life examples to create a liveable, thriving and diverse city. With building high-efficiency, low-cost housing as a core theme presentations range from policy, community, future climate and urban heat islands.

    Speakers include: Passive House architects Maya Design, Joan day of Cool Roofs Network and National Construction Code changes, Curtin University Sustainable Policy discussing a living lab made of recyclable materials, and a world first Perth project studying the impact of roof colour on homes by Switch Your Thinking.

    Thursday 9th May
    10:00 – 2:30 pm
    City of Perth Library
    573 Hay St, Perth
    Book: [email protected]
    A light lunch is included.
     
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  20. theperthurbanist

    theperthurbanist Well-Known Member

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    I will try and post more events as they come up (Perth bias sorry as that's where I live)
     
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