Case Studies

This page provides a selection of case studies showing how real people are making positive changes in suburbia by retrofitting their homes, gardens and habits. 

Each case study reflects the situation, values and aspirations of the residents but all illustrate a range of retrosuburban patterns and strategies across the Built, Biological and Behavioural fields of action. The summary and statistics for each study make comparisons easier for readers without any judgement about right and wrong. Most case studies have a blog or website for further information, and some are accessible through tours or volunteering, but please respect the privacy of our generous contributors.

We plan to keep adding case studies showing the diversity of retrosuburbia to inspire readers of the book and website to create their own. If you have documented your retrosuburban journey, please let us know.


Please note

  1. Each case study has a self assessed Resilience Sun rating that evaluates the property (but not the people!) using the Retrosuburban Real Estate Checklist.
  2. The energy, water and resource consumption figures in some case studies may be higher than those of average households that outsource more of their consumption while at work, school and play away from home.

Connor and Marta Ryan

Our quarter-acre plot, which we call Tree Elbow sits on the edge of town, the Central Lake Reserve and the Wombat State Forest. When we moved here nearly a decade ago the vacant swampy block had only two trees: an oak to the north and a willow to the east....

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AGHF Feature

A Good Home Forever

I decided that I would need a one storey house on a north-facing reasonably flat block with space for a small vegie garden, fruit trees, three chooks, and land for the re-establishment of natural bush and corridors for wildlife. I also needed to have low water, energy and nutrient use...

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Alistair & Christines - Feature

Alistair and Christine’s

In December 1998 Alistair Tuffnell bought a rundown workers cottage for $156,000. The cottage/house is extremely well located to all services. Alistair’s partner Christine Baro moved into the house in 2001. For the next several years Alistair and Christine focused on paying...

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Abdallah House

In May 2008 Richard Telford was looking for a cheap property, close to the intentional community where he was living with his partner Kunie and Kai, their 8 month old son, to set up as a demonstration site for urban permaculture living. It was envisaged that the property would become...

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Good Life Permaculture

Our property is the result of a much longed for home. We were living in Melbourne for some years (me working for Cultivating Community and Anton working for the Alternative Technology Assoc.) and realised we’d need to leave in order to be able to access more affordable land and live...

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Eco Thrifty Retrofit - Feature

Eco Thrifty Retrofit

In June 2010 Dani and Nelson Lebo were looking for a ‘do-up’ property to demonstrate that ‘eco-homes’ aren’t only the domain of the wealthy, and that a sustainable lifestyle can be within reach of almost anyone. The Eco Thrifty Renovation project would be both their home and a ‘classroom’ for...

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Ecoburbia - Feature image


Just what is it? It’s an alternative infill development, an urban farm, a demonstration sustainable house, an educational opportunity, a community hub and most importantly – a benevolent dictatorship! We bought our new home at 16 Livingstone...

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In 2011, Theo Kitchener and Roger Sharp envisioned a permaculture and appropriate technology demonstration sharehouse to show how much could be done in a rental in the suburbs. They wanted somewhere affordable where they could settle in and stay long term, with a large garden,...

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The Plummery

When Kat Lavers moved into The Plummery in 2008, the run down old house required substantial repairs but was well-located with plenty of potential. She wanted to design and implement a permaculture system and experiment with urban food production strategies...

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Under the Choko Tree - Feature2

Under the Choko Tree

Back in the late ‘70s I packed up my new bride and set off for the wilds of…Western Sydney! Well it was a little bit wild back then. The estate had no shops and no public transport but the housing and the loans were cheap and so we found ourselves...

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Saba and Matt's - Feature

Saba and Matt’s Rental Property

In early 2014, we relocated to Lilydale, Victoria from south-east Queensland to pursue new work opportunities. Our plan was to stay for around three years and use this period of settlement to learn to grow food. We specifically looked for somewhere...

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Gething Crescent

In 2000 Teresa and Jake were looking to relocate to Adelaide and they purchased an old bungalow in Bowden. Bowden is an inner city suburb approximately 3km from the GPO with interesting industrial and heritage influences. The city centre can be accessed by cycling along the River Torrens through the...

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Watts Permaculture

Goshen & Katrina were looking for a small family home within walking distance to schools, transport and shops. In 2008 they found a renovated, 1950’s brick-veneer home on 1,000m² of land only 3 minutes walk from the high street. The block had been almost entirely cleared as the previous owner’s...

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Tree Elbow

Our quarter-acre plot, which we call Tree Elbow sits on the edge of town, the Central Lake Reserve and the Wombat State Forest. When we moved here nearly a decade ago the vacant swampy block had only two trees: an oak to the north and a willow to the east....

Read More

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Feeding RetroSuburbia


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