77 Nottingham Street Berkeley: photos

Jasi and Shaun Colley are a perfect example of the mum-and-dad investor thinking outside the square.

The pair are not only giving life to tired homes but transforming properties into dual occupancy in an environmentally sound manner.

Mr Colley, 48, and Mrs Colley, 38, hail from Sutherland Shire but knew they couldn’t afford to buy in Sydney so looked south to begin building their portfolio.

Their second project at 77 Nottingham Street in Berkeley is currently on the market and home to a renovated three-bedroom house and a separate three-bedroom sustainable modular home made from shipping containers.

“We’re both very environmentally conscious people kind of people … and recognise affordable housing is a massive issue,” Mrs Colley said.

“People [are] really challenged, including ourselves, in finding a space where you can thrive as a family but also enjoy a rental income off the back or front of the site, or have an investment property which is affordable.”

The couple read up as much as they could about sustainable housing and decided to go with two ready-made “pods” which they joined together to create one three-bedroom home.

Mr Colley said they didn’t need to lay a concrete slab, just extremely deep steel posts as foundations, so the environmental footprint was kept to a minimum.

He said they didn’t want to put energy draining appliances like air-conditioning, dryers or heaters inside so worked with installing appropriate air-conditioning, insulation, a water tank, double-glazed windows and doors, plus other sustainable features.

The “pods” were also positioned to maximise airflow and sunlight to keep heating and cooling costs down.

Mrs Colley added that they while they are “not environmental gurus” there is a lot of information available online to help with the design process.

“We did the best we could with what we had,” she said.

“We wanted to use as little materials as possible, the steel structure itself is quite cooling and double insulated, the whole inside is plasterboard through it. 

“We’ve used natural timbers in the landscaping and a lovely deck with open space.”

The couple finished their project in July 2015 and have had successful tenancies for the past year.

Elders Real Estate Wollongong has listed the dual rental return to be a minimum of $970 per week.

Meantime, Mr Colley has quit his personal training job to focus full time on projects like this and the couple is now looking for their third property to transform.

Adding a granny flat to a property can be a lot easier to get plans through council rather than subdividing or building a duplex, but Mrs Colley said using a ready-made “pod” does have its pros and cons.

A Sydney crane company had to be called in because no Illawarra services were big enough for the job and their previous project in Dapto required full DA approval.

However both agreed granny flats – whichever make – were great investments.

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