Housing eureka

THE end of developers as we know them?

Perhaps that’s a little premature, but as part of the Fini dynasty, North Freo resident Don Fini knows the industry better than most and says a new housing model he’s introducing to WA via Fremantle is proving a game changer over east.

The Nightingale Project was dreamed up by a group of architects in Melbourne who were looking at how to break into an over-heated property market.

Ethical investors

By joining forces and co-opting ethical investors, they were able to create a thrifty development that’s high on sustainability principles.

Mr Fini says he was taken by the idea while studying the sustainability of construction over east. Back in Perth, he was approached by architect Dimitri Kapetas to manage a 12-apartment project in Wood Street, White Gum Valley, with the first meeting of potential investors and owners being held this week.

“When you identify the land, you start to publicise it, and get people to register as a purchaser or future investor,” Mr Fini told the Herald.

“Then you start developing a deliberative model and give potential owners a survey, with questions like ‘do you want one or two bedrooms’ and it gives some of the costs of those decisions and it starts people thinking about the ramifications.”

Options include sharing facilities like laundries and green space, which Mr Fini says helps bring the costs down but also helps create an instant community.

Some projects over east have car sharing components.

• Don Fini is introducing a new housing model to WA. Photo by Steve Grant

He says the Fremantle project is also likely to involve some commercial space, and he’s currently looking into whether the rent can be used to defray strata fees.

Giving future owners a say in the design is a similar concept to the Baugruppen model being trialled by Fremantle council, but the difference is in the ethical investors.

They take a 15 per cent profit for three years before withdrawing.

Mr Fini says this helps reduce the overall cost, as a standard developer would take their cut from the entire project.

“With the potential savings that are delivered, some will go to reducing the capital costs of the unit, but some can go towards reducing the living costs through better sustainability practices,” Mr Fini says.

He says this helps the long-term sustainability of the project, as it can help reduce mortgage defaults.

Stop profiteers

To stop profiteers, owners are forbidden from on-selling their apartments for more than 10 per cent of their value, a covenant that stays for 20 years.

“It’s really designed for owner-occupiers,” says Mr Fini.

He says while the concept has only been around a handful of years, it’s growing popularity has caused caused developers to reconsider their models and now there’s a range of different models popping up.

“We could not survive without developers and they have generally done a good job, but their model can’t tackle everything.”

To find out more about the concept head to nightingalehousing.org

by STEVE GRANT

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