Our Mission stems from what we LOVE to do:
Make a DENT in this world by
inspiring 10,000 natural homes in the world
Sam has been building houses since 1996. He’s designed and built over 30 complete natural homes and worked on over 50 in total. Whereas most subbies just organise a straw bale workshop, or complete the render on a home, Sam and his team don’t do that for ONE reason.
Before we go through that reason, here’s where we began…
Sam’s natural homes began before being ‘green’ was in vogue, and before straw bale homes were featured on TV. This was a time when the mention of straw bale buildings brought out many ‘three little pigs’ jokes!
Once, when on top of the hill on their block of land in Mudgee NSW, Simone his wife said “let’s build a house here”.
Sam asked “want to build a straw bale home?”
Simone said “what’s that… and how?”
Sam replied “I don’t know, let’s find out”, they started one of the first strawbale homes in Australia.
After reading books (that’s all that was available back then) and seven years of ‘blood, sweat and tears’, making some mistakes along the way (not terminal ones though)…
sometimes working four weeks straight, driving from Sydney out into the country for four hours, working all weekend, and then driving back and going to work on Monday
they finished their dream home. It was incredible, everyone that went there (even the council inspector) was blown away by it.
They used reclaimed materials and did everything themselves, from the slab to the reclaimed tin roof, to rendering the straw walls.
‘We got a LOT of help from family and friends (thank goodness)’.
‘Nevertheless, it was one of the most stressful things we’d ever done in our lives – physically, mentally, financially and emotionally. However, we were young and we did it. We’d finally achieved our dream of building our own straw bale home.’ Simone recalls
Since then,they’ve owner-built 3 of their own straw bale and earth homes.
They know EXACTLY what’s it’s like to owner build, go over budget, over time, not know what to do when, they’ve heard about all of the nightmare mistakes about render failing, bad design, subcontractors that don’t show up, over charge, don’t communicate or breakdowns in relationships because of the stress and toll it can take on your health and family.
“We literally didn’t see our family or friends during that time”
Before Viva, Sam built million dollar houses in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, but his body could not handle the toxic building materials any longer, nor could he couldn’t understand the wastage on site either.
There had to be another way of building
Ensuring people get a consistent, professional home was crucial.
We did it, but too many other people who were getting dudded when they tried it for themselves.
We test out new techniques on our own homes first, not client’s homes.
A LOT of natural builders test new things on client’s homes and that’s where you get problems
(dodgy workmanship, houses that need to rebuilt, renders fail… we’ve had to redo poor workmanship too many times).
Even today, there are just way too many other subbies promising $100,000 to build a four-bedroom home,
or, 7 days to render a home
but by the time they’re actually finished, it’s more like 21 days and 2-3 times over the estimates they were given. That can be a difference of $50,000 in some instances which we’ve heard of just recently.
How do you come up with an extra $50,000 half way through a build?
When Simone and Sam started Viva, they sat down and asked themselves what did they really want to do, their answer:
Build beautiful straw bale and earth homes with great people
Create a community, that makes the world a better place, live an extra ordinary life
This is the criteria they still use today (some 16 years later) –
- Must be sustainable, energy efficient and healthy homes – good for our health and the planet
- Affordable for people who are likeable, doers, decision makers, rational and want to change the world
- Professionally built, every home is award winning and the best quality
- Built to a timeframe and set price – no stress for owners
- Fun, everyone should love the experience
Our clients can tell us exactly what they want: a home that’s warm in winter and cool in summer. A set price is important for them.
We can then honestly say there will not be any nasty surprises from us along the way.
This is the ONE reason we do fixed price contracts. We won’t compromise on our values and ethics.
We hate to disappoint and cannot understand why others say one thing and do something else.
This is our story, our dreams, personal ethics and why we keep CHOOSING to be here and do what we LOVE!