Shedders: the book

Shedders is now available from Amazon (buy here).

….Or peruse from the chapters below to sample the book.


Chapter 1. Manyana, New Year’s day

Chapter 1, part 2

Six friends holidaying together (in Manyana, NSW) conceive the idea of creating a retirement community together. I confront my own ambivalent feelings about living with others – and with these people in particular.
Chapter 2. The team meets What might this community look like? The six of us explore creating a vision and I discover how strongly I am drawn to this project.
Chapter 3. Here, there and everywhere Over the course of a year and a half, we scour the countryside for just the right property, learning   uncomfortable things about ourselves and each other in the process
Chapter 4. We’ll take it Finally, we align. For better or for worse, we discover the property that satisfies us all. It feels like a real stake in the ground of my future.
Chapter 5. Becoming Shedders There is more to being Australian, and to owning a rural property – with a big green shed – than I ever dreamed of.
Chapter 6. Getting to know you There is a LOT more to owning a rural property than I ever dreamed of.
Chapter 7. Try before you buy Perhaps we should try living together in the city for a couple years before we embark on building a communal house in the country. But where will we ever find a rental spot for 3 couples (actually, 6 fussy adults, a disgruntled teenager and 2 cats).
Chapter 8. Rogue ocean liners This is getting too hard. We will never align on the right timeframe. The chapter recaptures the drama of one of many episodes where we have to deal with frustration and antagonism – our own and each other’s. We practice all we know about communication.
Chapter 9. Heaven on the harbour To our amazement, the perfect rental, a big house right on the harbour in Sydney, falls into our hands – though not without serious battle. This chapter, told through our email and other electronic communication, describes the personal challenges as we confront what we are doing – actually living together.
Chapter 10. Almost famous (part 1)

Chapter 10. Almost famous (part 2)

Our project catches the attention of a film company interested in its social implications. It should be fun   becoming stars in our own life-story, right?
Chapter 11. Yours, mine and ours As we move together into the big   house in Longueville, I discover how challenging it is to share possessions, to have my own tastes judged, and to accommodate the tastes of others.
Chapter 12. Family, friends and other interlopers A lesson in generosity and inclusiveness begins. How do I learn to love someone else’s cat, siblings, children,   friends?
Chapter 13. Show me the money To embark on this journey together, we need to understand each other’s finances. One afternoon, hearts in throats, we lay it all out on the table.
Chapter 14. The greening of Mitchells Island This chapter is a series of stories about how, while still living in the city, we take real ownership of our property and begin to shape the land to our vision.
Chapter 15. Second thoughts Maybe this project wasn’t such a good idea after all……or maybe it was. Our commitment deepens.
Chapter 16. Make yourself a home We find the perfect character to design a house for us, and confront (a) our lack of knowledge about architecture, and (b) our strong and individual tastes.
Chapter 17. Signed in blood We need an agreement in case it all falls apart at some stage. But I don’t enjoy working on it.
Chapter 18. Scenes from the Shed door My husband Rick and I finally move up to the property and into The Shed. We hire Scrubby, a real local character, to slash the weeds. I spread my father’s ashes. I begin to create communities around me. Trevor, who is taking out unwanted pine trees, rolls his bobcat down the hill. Rick and I review the financial savings our project is giving us.
Chapter 19. Ready, set, go We find the perfect person to build our big new house, but just as we’re about to get started…
Chapter 20. Train wreck coming (part 1)

Chapter 20. Train wreck coming (part 2)

….one of the couples decides to pull out of the project. I – and everyone else – draw on all our skills in communication, negotiation and conflict resolution to say the unspeakable, hear the unhearable and get back into relationship.
Chapter 21. Madam project manager I accept the role of project-managing the building of the house, a wonderful opportunity for learning a little about construction and a great deal about myself.
Chapter 22. Blowout Whatever had us think we could be the only people to build a house without overspending?
Chapter 23. Here’s to us


Seven years from when the idea was born, the house is finished and we move in together. It is a moment worthy of deep celebration.Happily ever after? Three years after move-in day, The Shedders are doing well.
Twelve easy lessons

In this appendix, I share some of the learning we acquired from the journey.

18 thoughts on “Shedders: the book

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  7. Dear Heather,
    I am really interested in reading your book however I do not own a Kindle nor any other e-book reader. Is there any way I can purchase a copy as an electronic file that I could then print?
    I assume that when you say on your blog
    “Or peruse from the chapters below to sample the book.” that the entire book is not on your blog.
    Kind Regards,

    • Hello Leoni. I don’t have print on demand to offer, though you can easily download the free Kindie app for your computer or tablet, and then purchase and read (or print) the book. And yes, it is possible to read the whole thing from the website. Glad for your interest! Let me know what you think.

  8. Hi Heather,
    Many thanks for your quick reply. I have just finished cutting & pasting the chapters from your blog into a Word document. While I am only 50 & not yet at this stage it is a topic that interests me greatly – partly because my 92 year old Father is hanging on for grim death in his own home and refusing to consider any alternatives and partly because a friend of mine talks about us seeking some form of alternate communal retirement living option when we reach that stage. I have worked with Baby Boomers for most of my working life and have been hoping that your generation would push the boundaries for seeking better options to those currently available. I very much look forward to reading your story and sharing it with my friends.
    All the best,

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  10. I loved the book. We have been thinking on how what sort of housing we are going to live in after seeing our parents housing situation slowly become a crisis. It arrived at just the right time. Loved how you have gone through the history of the whole situation from holidays together to renting to the shed and then finally the house. The last piece on the final thoughts in the appendix was a nice summary.
    The result for us is 4 friends are looking at our own take on building an intentional community.

    I read your book on the kindle app on my computer!

    • That’s great to hear, Ian. We’re now at the point where it’s 7 years since we’ve moved in together and still very happy we did it. It keeps life interesting!

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