The first party on the site - 2009. [Photo credit: Kate Lilley]

The Project

Andrew Kerrby author page

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House or Shack?

The project is titled 60k House but I consider it to be more of a shack. What’s the difference? It all depends on how you use it. A house suggests a home, a permanent place to live. A shack speaks of something less permanent, a place that lends itself to informal living, somewhere to escape to.


Australian – shack

New Zealand – Bach

Scandinavia – summer house?

North America – cabin?


I want to create something that is a home, a shack, and a studio – a place to retreat to for the weekend, stay for longer, or leave it uninhabited for weeks. I need a place to sleep, eat, cook, rest, and party – somewhere to host one guest or many guests, or simply spend time alone. A place to come home to or leave behind – a place to live.

Humble Designs

60k House could be considered a cross between Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home. As much as I cringe when watching Grand Designs* (see footnote below), I find it fascinating to see how a project develops from an idea through to construction – the process is often as interesting as the finished product. In Man Made Home Kevin aims to design and build an eco-friendly home, or ‘man cave’ – a shack in the woods made from locally sourced materials or salvaged items. This better resembles the aims of 60k House.


Several trees have had to be removed in order to establish a clearing for bushfire protection purposes (this will be discussed in a later post). The aim is to mill these trees into timber that can be used as cladding for the building – the house will literally be made ‘of the site’.


Salvaged, seconds or surplus materials will also be incorporated into the design and construction. There are plenty of materials available at a discounted price that can be included in a project, especially if sourced early so they can be integrated into the design from an early stage. The key is being resourceful and having the time (and contacts) to source them. However, do not depend upon sourcing your own materials to save money or come in on budget – it’s nice if you can get materials on the cheap but it’s best to budget as if you would have to pay full price for everything.

Learning By Making

As a young designer I also see 60k House as a design opportunity – a testing ground for ideas. I have engaged a builder for the project but will help him when I can. Being involved during the construction appeals on various levels: the satisfaction that comes from building something; the chance to save some money by providing labour; learning first-hand from an experienced builder in order to gain a deeper understanding of construction issues; and designing and deciding as the build progresses.


* On Grand Designs the clients often embark on ambitious projects, whether it’s an incredibly challenging site, unrealistic budget or tight timeframe. They usually approach their individual project with such gusto and bravado. Ambition and determination are great things, but it bewilders me how few of them engage professionals to assist with their project, e.g. an architect or project manager. Don’t get me wrong: the drama is compelling, but their reluctance to seek professional help never ceases to amaze me. I appreciate that $60,000 may be an unrealistic budget for this project, but accept it as a design challenge and am aware of the implications (and I have a contingency).


Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.




  1. G’Day Andrew

    Luca here from the Woodbridge Community Association.

    I lived in Sweden for half a year.

    The Swedish word for a summer house is ‘Sturga’

    There are 8 million Swedes – and 2 million Sturga!

    1. Andrew Kerr

      Hi Luca,
      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t realise how many ‘sturga’ there were in Sweden per capita! The Scandinavians sure do know how to relax, connect with nature and enjoy the summer. I’m currently in Denmark and hope to enjoy some summer house time myself. Cheers

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