Seek, and you shall find.

I love looking at property. If I was a better sales person, I might even have gone into real estate. With our new focus over the last few months, I’ve looked at quite a few blocks of land so far, and we’ve now visited a few too. Everything starts to merge into one eventually, so wanted to remember the ones we’d physically seen, what worked and what didn’t…so here we go – welcome to my rolling list of green grass possibilities…

Rengaru Solar Village

If you’ve been reading about our journey for a while, you’ll know that I’ve rabbited on and on about this one and it was pretty heart-breaking to let it go 😦

Pros for both: Part of a village with same values, community feel, good fencing, gated, school up the road – with bus stop at gate, owners that had created an amazing organic, permaculture type environment

Cons: No transportable option due to limited access, long metal road to property, looong windey ride to Warkworth (and daycare/play centre), average wi-fi (well, I got nothing on iphone, Mark was fine on Samsung!)

Lot 8 / Kahu – 1.54ha

Pros: On top of a slope with a northerly aspect for part of it, good size, lovely rural views, lovely top soil, good road to drive.

Cons: Signs of erosion, sloping land – with no sun on parts, tricky site to build with average soil, no services – and large costs associated to how things need to be done due to covenants, very few established trees, no water source (although did have troughs for animals), lots of houses visible

Lot 4 /Kotare – 1.3ha

Pros: Lovely block of mature trees, reasonable cost

Cons: Mostly in a dip, very little northerly aspect, massive wetland across middle, steep driveway, signs of erosion, no services – and large costs associated to how things need to be done due to covenants and wetland, neighbours very close.

Lot 15, 262 West Coast Road, Ahuroa – 1.03ha

We didn’t stop to look at this one, but drove past it twice. We’d considered stopping, but it had an offer on it, and one back-up so it was more for getting a feel for what was on offer .

Pros: Beautiful trees, power to boundary

Cons: On a main road, very exposed to road so little privacy, wetland area (again!), a very weird shape, a lot of trees just other side of boundary.

276 Wech Access Road, Makarau – 1.27ha

Another one we drove past twice as it already had a contract in place by the time we inquired about it. It really was as pretty as a picture though!!

Pros: Power to boundary, just soooo pretty

Cons: Main road so less privacy, not many trees on actual land – all along boundary, went for low $500’s so more than we want to spend on land only

Lot 1 (1.29ha) & Lot 2 (1.28ha) Martin Access Road, Makarau

Gosh. These were rough as. They had just been felled of their pine trees, and I’d seriously worry about losing Luc (or possibly even Leo!) down one off the dips… it was completely topsy-turvy. Soooo fascinating to see what all is on offer! Lovely helpful agent though.

Pros for both: Lovely views (although there was new pines just planted, so not sure how that would effect the views later!), sooooo quiet, the whistling through the trees was sublime, fencing, power to boundary, off access road, did I mention how quiet!!

Cons for both: Roly poly and hilly as!! Looked very different to what I saw in pics, and was surprised by the up/down contour. A lot of unusable ground, maybe for goats! Southerly aspect, a lot of wind, and a massive pine block immediately behind us that will be coming down soon I’d say. Lot 1 was in a valley too, so maybe less wind – but less views too. Very interesting spaces!!

Up until this point, we’ve only looked at stuff in Makarau/Ahuroa – Mark really liked the idea of having 2 options to get to work – via west or North depending on traffic. And Ahuroa School looks too sweet.

Kaipara Flats is also an option though, so we decided to have a look at what was on offer that way. Interestingly enough, all the properties we wanted to look at were under Peter Morton @ Ray White – very convenient tbh.

It was A LOT of metal road to get there, but I think it was because we came from Makarau. Kaipara has a totally different feel than Makarau/Ahuroa – I think it’s got more open space (Kaipara Flats! Duh!) and we really really liked the feel, the small town hamlet and the sports club. I’m not however sure how often things come up for in this area, so we’ll just have to wait and see….

Lot 3, Corner of Kaipara Hills Road & Dill Road, Kaipara Flats – 1.17ha

Another very tricky space to imagine as the trees had only recently been cut and the title is only due 2022 as there is still some work around native bush to be sorted, plus fencing and driveways. Wet day – a lot of mud!

Pros: Lovely views all the way to Kaipara Harbour, just up the road from SH1, a much easier road to drive into Warkworth (daycare only 20 mins away!), great price, wi-fi seemed good

Cons: Southerly aspect, close to neighbours (you can see them in 2nd pic), off the grid, no geotech reports available, uber topsy-turvy

109 Dill Road, Kaipara Flats – 1.01ha

The pictures did not do this piece of land any justice. Even on a very grey day, it was really lovely to look at. Unfortunately, it did have a conditional offer on it… but the fact that it was southerly aspect was a big negative that I don’t think that Mark could overcome!

Pros: In Kaipara Flats!, really sweet piece of land, possibility of power from neighbour

Cons: Small – just 1ha, southerly aspect, likely off-grid, not much from our wish-list ticked

And now we wait.

Urgh. I’m not patient. Once I make a call on something, I want to ACT, ACT, ACT. Ok, I probably need to clarify that bold statement: With some things; there’s not much acting at all – exercise, weight loss, house work, folding washing, editing my novel (the writing was EASY!)… these are all things I seem to have an inability to regularly act on.

I think about them. Oh, yes…I think about them all.the.time! But act – no. Not often.

I’m talking about SELL A HOUSE, BUY A HOUSE, BUILD A HOUSE. Yes, yes, yes – on that stuff – I LOVE TO ACT!

But there’s a lot of things that have to align before you can move onto the acting part.

One key thing for us is budget – it’s so dreary to not have a job yet (particularly as I’m not bad at what I do and I’m sooo desperate to get my teeth into something meaty!), meaning we can’t officially apply to see what we can borrow (I’m literally DESPERATE to use ASB’s new ‘New Build‘ deal!!!!). Well, we do know what we can borrow on just Mark’s wages alone – but it’s not enough to build a whole dream!! So, we wait for that awesome job opportunity to make an effin appearance. Because it will. Everything always works out. It’s just sooooo boring and tedious waiting for it to work out. But it will.

And so we wait.

And the second key thing, is finding the right land. It seems kind of insane that we put an offer in on the FIRST piece of land we saw (I’m sure there’s an unwritten rule about this somewhere)… but it wasn’t so much about the land (it didn’t give me goosebumps…even though I tried and tried to feel ‘it’), it was actually more about what Rengaru stood for that we loved.

The community. The sustainability. The building of something unique and beautiful. That’s what we loved.

But I’m getting distracted again ’cause Rengaru was obviously not part of our future… if it was meant to be, everything would have aligned to make it happen. I would have got the job, the geotech report would have been slightly more amendable, and the budget would have worked out. But it didn’t – so, we’re back to waiting. We wait, and we remind ourselves of what’s on our wish-list, and open ourselves up to the magic of the universe…

  • Beautiful views – sweeping, green, breathtaking, soul enriching views!
  • Northerly aspect – we got some growing to do
  • Good internet – essential!
  • Ideally 2 hectares
  • In budget!
  • Amazing community, fab neighbours
  • Good schools
  • 20-25mins from Warkworth
  • Nice to have: passive income opportunities
  • Nice to have: stream or water source
  • Nice to have: established trees
  • Nice to have: services to boundary

We’re very clear on what we want. So, now we wait. And wait. And wait. Hopefully not too long, but just long enough for the universe to get clear on what we’re after, and then deliver what they think we actually need!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I know that eventually the stars will align and everything will be exactly as it should be to ACT. The stars always align eventually. Always. But it’s just sooooo daaaayum booooooring and tedious waiting for them to do their thing.

But wait we must… and so we wait.

Sometimes buying doesn’t mean owning

Holy shit. What a two weeks.

First out of the ranks, I’d interviewed for TWO jobs (you many have read my saga here already) before we went out to Rengaru, so I was feeling rather buoyant about the outcome. One was really quite awesome, and the other was ok – but I was sure that I’d get offered at least one of them this time – which is kind of hilarious since this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this situation – and lo and behold… I bloody got neither AGAIN!!

The one I really really wanted got back to my email follow-up with a ‘sorry, no’ (but be sure to apply if you think that you see anything else you’d be a good fit for!!!) and the other one never bothered to let me know at all – even after I chased them! (I just CANNOT get my head around this rudeness and inefficiency, particularly after an actual interview… so if you’re reading this and are guilty of similar behaviour – UP YOUR BLOODY GAME!).

That was strike one. I now had no job secured (or any prospects), and only had 20 working days to find one, which again, was hilarious as I’ve been trying to find one for a year so far… but ever the optimist, I was sure that it would be ok.

Then came strike two. The budget.

Here were our initial calculations to get a ball park feel when we first did the math:

Basic house – $225,000 (Nearly $15,000 more than Waikato FYI!) (Oh, and transportable not an option thanks to two stonking big trees either side of entryway)

Solar – $40,000

Natural Flow waste water – $14,000 (turned out being double what we expected!)

Water tanks – $14,000

Legal – $1,500

Consents – $10,000

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Even more hilarious than expecting to get a job!!! The build price came in at $390,000 (not including solar) – and that was with several TBC’s as the builder didn’t think that it would be a very easy site to build on, and we would have needed additional engineering reports (on top of the ones they’d already quoted), possibly with retaining walls (I did not think this would be the case, but builder threw it in there anyhow!!) and he was pretty sure that it would cost at least another $50,000 more that quoted!! People, that was getting into the million dollar realm…. what are we..Aucklanders?? (Yes actually, but the ones that can’t afford to spend $1,000,000 on a house!)

The salesman was also very un-salesy and said that he’s gonna try and talk us out of this one as he thinks this project will be a lot more than we could afford… and although it had a nice view, it was ultimately just a metal road up to a paddock. And there would be others just like it, for hopefully less – and with at least power to the boundary!!


And then Mark had a builder come through for some treatment and he had a few home truths too:

  1. Don’t build if you don’t have a buffer (he wasn’t very specific about what that should be… I’m assuming our 3% wasn’t going to cut it though)
  2. He’s never worked on a build that DIDN’T go over
  3. He no longer commits to a buffer as it’s completely impossible to guesstimate a build cost at the moment
  4. The shortage on building materials is very real – and getting worse! (12% increase on supplies recently)
  5. Don’t fret – something else would come up that would likely be better!

So when I showed Mark what the builders had provided – on top of a very long (very old) geotech report, easements and convenants – and no flat building platform with dodgy sand…. we both looked at each other and saw the dream of Rengaru disappear like smoke before our very eyes.

And it was heartbreaking. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

But on the plus side, Mark slept like a log for the first time in 2 weeks so… #winning.

So. The dream has met its first speed bump. Not all negative as it was a massive learning curve and we learnt a lot, have a really good idea of what to ask now, and a much more accurate idea of what it costs to get set-up off the grid – and most importantly, an even bigger desire to make it happen…. if only to make use of the insane new build rates that ASB has just released!!

Key takeaways:

Polished concrete floors are substantially more expensive than carpet – even when part of a concrete foundation!

Building an energy efficient house costs a bloody fortune – and basically out of the realms of normal budgets

Soil type makes a big difference on a Geotech report – and if you see the word ‘engineering’ anywhere – you’re up for a shit load of extra dollars

I wish I had more builders and engineers in my life!

Looking sometimes means buying.

So, we may have got a little bit over excited about our plans!

Turns out, when it comes to bare land, you can get a bit buy-more-itis – just like anything at the mall! We were initially looking a lot further afield (as in Kerikeri further afield) but for a number of reasons – we’ve decided to stay closer to home and find something around Warkworth. (I know! A little bit fancy, right!).

So, of course, Trade Me beckoned – and I stumbled upon this piece of land that I really liked the look of… I mean, look at the block of trees!!!!

Lot 4 – Kotare

Here’s what it had to say:

Title issued, ready to build on now! Rare opportunity to create your dream home here or park up your tiny home to contemplate your future plans. From the moment you arrive through the electronic entry gates, you will see that the Rengaru subdivision has been designed with quality in mind. This groundbreaking, exclusive development will incorporate the very best of 21st century design and technology, seamlessly alongside sustainable and environmentally conscious living.

Rengaru is nestled serenely below the Kaipara Hills surrounded by an abundance of native trees, birds and wildlife. Peaceful and tranquil, yet just a short drive to Warkworth, SH1 and SH16, East Coast beaches and the Matakana Coast Wine Country.

Kotare is one of just 6 sections available within approximately 100 hectares of organically run farm. A stunning 1.3ha, two paddock section; the north facing house site is beautifully nestled into the landscape with a backdrop of a Kahikatea grove and panoramic rural views. The driveway to your section, fencing and gravity fed stock trough are already in place. Geotechnical report is available and sensible covenants are in place to protect your asset for the future. Don’t delayβ€”call for more details and to start your journey to lifestyle living! Additional information available at tiny home, transportable homes, solar, eco living, sustainable living, off grid, passive solar, environmental living, alternative living, organic

No, we won’t delay! Where the hell do we sign up?? Let us at it….

*Heads to website and feverishly reads about this little bit of paradise*

Shit. It’s off-grid. As in COMPLETELY off-grid. But it’s so lovely. Maybe we can make it work. Maybe we’ll just go and have a look. Maybe we’ll just start our journey by looking at this one property, which will be a good gauge when we look at others. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Appointment requested. We’re off to see this piece of land. Just to look. We won’t buy now. Of course not. We can’t. Our house isn’t sold, and I’ve yet to find enough work (rather important to secure the loan). Even though Rengaru whispers to our souls about living lightly on the land, and co-creating a haven with a community for a better future for all!

We’ll just look.

So, it went something like this….

We got there and released our krakens! They bolted straight down to the streams edge, and started throwing stones into it. I met – and immediately adored – Jo Montague from Harcourts. I totally over-shared (yes, yes, those that know me stop your snickering!) and said that we’ve got the smallest of small budgets, that we’re not normal Aucklander’s with a million dollars available, that we’re desperate to be part of such an incredible opportunity, that Mark literally reads soil books, and that we absolutely love what Bev and Dave had done! Yes, we absolutely kept our cards completely close to our chests. (When I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘me’! πŸ˜‚)

“I’m sure we can make it work,” she said calmly.

“Now, I know you wanted to see Lot 4 (1.31ha, more than we paid for our first house!), but I think we’ll just have a look at Lot 8 first (1.55ha – and a mere $30,000 more). I feel like your family would have a lot more room to do the things you want to on that one. We’ve also had someone look at Lot 4 twice now and they’re close to putting in an offer.”

Lot 8 – Kahu

Um. Ok. Cause we’re just looking and totally not buying.

What was that? Did anyone else hear that loud bang???

Ahhh, only Mark falling utterly and completely in love. Hard.

Oh, shit (and yes, there was a lot of that!!). We’re not just looking. We’re talking offers. We’re talking about actually buying this baby! But we haven’t sold our house yet. I’m still looking for some more work. We can’t do this. How are we going to make it work? How can we do it??

Mark looks at me with those beautiful blue eyes.

“I’m sure we can make it work,” he said calmly.

So, yes, we’ve put an offer in, with some conditions, and after much to-ing and fro-ing, we’ve struck a deal. And now we’re working really, really hard to see if we can make it happen… because, like everyone keeps telling me…

“I’m sure we can make it work.”

Stick around my friends, let’s see if we actually can.

Highlights of the day:

Leo herding a sheep back in its pen… he was so damned pleased! He looked at me and said, ‘Mum, I didn’t think that I could do that!’

Luc running around like such a headless chook that he fully exhausted himself, and had to be carried back to the car – which meant that I got covered in the sheep shit that was all over his boots!

Putting an offer in on a piece of land that we love.