Home Improvements in Remote Locations - Be Prepared

Remote Property

My brother Daniel lives in the countryside in Queensland, Australia. The picture on the left is now a bit out of date, but it gives you a good idea of the surroundings.

It's 40 acres of tree covered land. It starts at the top of the hill where the picture is taken from - goes down through a valley which turns into a river during the rainy season - and goes all the way up to the hill on the other side.

He's invited me to come and spend some time there this Christmas like I did last year - it's a long way to travel, but it's certainly a welcome change of pace, so I'll probably do it again this year.

My brother doesn't consider it remote because it's only a 10 minute drive to the nearest town which has a population of just over 900 people - they even have their own Pub there (which I became thankful for - it has air conditioning). However, I do consider it remote because it has no mains power, water supply, or sewage service.

While I was there I helped him do a bit of work around the property where he is developing a small organic farm which he is hoping will be able to support him, his better half, their dog and goats in a couple of years time. One of the most important things I learned about working where there was no mains power, was how much you need to be prepared, so I'll share a few tips about the kinds of equipment it's handy to have.


You might think the lack of power is a great opportunity to get fit using good old fashioned hand tools, but as romantic as that sounds you'll hardly get any work done that way - and with the temperature going well over 30°C (86°F) every day, this wasn't an option.

We had a gasoline powered chain saw, but for the finer cutting work we had a battery powered miter saw and circular saw, as well as cordless drill/drivers, grinder and nail gun. In fact most of the tools were cordless and we had 8 battery packs - I strongly recommend having additional batteries on remote sites. It saves a lot of time having spare ones ready to go, and some ready to charge when you get down to your last couple of battery packs - you don't want to sit around waiting for batteries to charge.


Honda EM30 Generator

Photo courtesy of Generator Place

Although he does have solar power there, the system only produces enough electricity to run the dwelling and store a bit extra for nighttime with some reserves in case there's a few cloudy days - there isn't enough left over for the tools.

We used a generator for charging - one important thing to note is that you need one specifically rated for charging batteries otherwise you can damage them. We were using the Honda EM30 (pictured right). By the way - it's a lot easier to carry batteries around than the generator - so avoid tools that need to be plugged in where you can.

Some Little Luxuries

cordless radio

Photo courtesy of Anglia Tool Centre

I'd never seen one of these before, but Daniel also has a cordless sound system which works off the same battery packs as the tools. When the tools started running a bit slow, but the batteries still had a bit of juice left in them, we'd swap them over to a sturdy little sound system designed specially for work sites - just like the one pictured to the left.

With a lot of walking up and down the hills during the heat of the day, having nice cold drinks really helped. We froze drink bottles overnight, and them kept them in a little cooler which we could carry around while working. Trust me, little things like this make a big different when you're working in the heat.

Plan Ahead

So the moral of the story is, that it doesn't have to be a struggle working on a remote site. You might have different requirements to what we had, but as with every project a little planning goes a long way and makes the job go smoother too.

Hopefully when I go back I'll remember to take some photographs to share of the shed we built to house an old vintage truck which Daniel plans to restore after finishing the work on the fences, dam, kitchen, bathroom... actually - I don't think his 'missus' will let him get going on the truck anytime soon :).

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