Letter to the editor

Dear LG Focus,

In response to your November front page: the term ‘affordable housing’ can sometimes be misleading. Are we referring to ‘cheap’ housing where quality takes a backseat or simple mass-produced dwellings that were popular during the ‘housing commission’ era of the fifties and sixties?

With the popularity of the many home renovation shows on our television screens, there follows an enthusiasm to ‘have a go’ and grab a paintbrush or a hammer.

Therein lies a great opportunity for one solution to getting more families into their own home: group self-build. This was a program that operated in Horsham (and other places in Victoria) about 15 years ago. The concept was not complicated: 12 families would make a time commitment to build each other’s homes.

Under the supervision of a qualified builder, the families would undertake various stages of the build including basic construction, plastering, painting and landscaping; other facets of the build such as the slab, plumbing and electrical were done by professional tradesmen and women.

The costs savings were incredible including the procurement of land and material, everything done as a ‘group’. At the end of the process – and we have a small suburb in Horsham now – were a fine set of beautiful homes. For many of the families involved it was a life-changing experience as owning their own home would have always remained just a dream.

But, this is not a quick fix solution – it requires commitment and planning. The support of the Government and Council is critical. It is also a fantastic option that, I believe, should be pursued again.
Governments should remember that the knock-on effect for our young people, with employment opportunities with a thriving housing industry, should never be underestimated.

Maybe that could be a story line for a Block series: Scott Cam supervising the building of 12 couples’ dream home – now that would make good television!

Councillor Mark Radford
Horsham Rural City Council