Self-sufficient houses will sell better

Energy and water self-sufficiency will increasingly become key factors in the marketability of residential property in SA.

So says RealNet property group CEO Tjaart van der Walt, who believes homes that offer a degree of services independence – or are “off the grid” - will have a marketing edge in future.

“It’s clear that the supply of essential services to households is becoming erratic and less dependable. While the Eskom debacle is an obvious case in point, concerns are now being expressed that water shortages are the next challenge.

“And the possibility is enough to make self-sufficiency in the supply of water and other essential services an increasingly strong selling point.”

Van der Walt says the options for achieving this are entirely practical and not overly expensive in the scheme of things. They include geysers that use solar as well as electrical power, generators and batteries to provide lighting and power for appliances, natural lighting and solar panels.

“The same may be said of water supply. In the next few years we could well see a proliferation of traditional rainwater storage tanks even on city properties, as well as wind-driven pumps rather than electrical pumps on boreholes.

“Moreover with the price of food rocketing, it makes practical sense to use at least some of the garden to grow some essential vegetables, emulating war time England, for example, where every spare plot of land was devoted to this purpose.”

The whole intention, he says, should be to make homes energy efficient and independent to a large extent of the public services networks, resulting not only in cost savings but in security of supply.

“And if all this sounds apocalyptic that’s not the intention. Many other parts of the world have services shortages. Sydney and Las Vegas for example have periodic serious water shortages and Indonesian and South American cities are also faced with very serious power supply problems and rolling blackouts.

“The simple fact is that service resources are strained to the limit and that it makes good sense to make a property as self sufficient as possible in energy and other terms.”

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