Dan and Christine Kibble are the proud owners of one of Maitland’s earliest terrace buildings. Built in 1867, the top storeys are home to the Kibble family while the ground floor houses their popular Italian restaurant, Fratelli Roma.
Earlier this year the One Power team was tasked to design a solar system that would reduce the cost of powering the restaurant from a renewable energy source. As Dan explains in his review of the project, the One Power team overcame significant challenges to deliver a fantastic result.
“We bought the building in 2007 when it was quite dilapidated and run down. Since then we’ve done a series of renovations and were working on the final phase – the front of the building – when the One Power guys were in the area. Once I found out about One Power being based locally in Thornton, spoke to Sean himself and the guys doing the install, I was really confident with it. We already had $20,000 of scaffolding going up so I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the solar done.
A tricky, heritage building
It turned out to be a much more involved job than any of us could have anticipated. When we did the initial plan we couldn’t see the roof, so there were quite a few modifications along the way. Sean and his team just dealt with everything really well. I’m in business too and dealing with someone like Sean is really rare in business, so I just really appreciated that.
It wasn’t a large installation, but they had to make it work on what is limited space on the roof area. The pitch of the roof itself made the job extremely difficult. It’s a 60 degree pitch and the guys all had to be harnessed up to comply with OH&S. They’re a fairly young team, but their attitude was so upbeat and the workmanship was really professional.
Being in an heritage conservation area, there are a lot of restrictions with Council around appearance and aesthetics, especially from the street front. It took some work to get the panels positioned in a way that was compliant with the heritage of the area. At one point Council came back to ask for some changes — by that stage it was already an extremely difficult job! I called Sean and suggested that we work something out around the cost of the additional work, but they just did it off their own back. He was just really reasonable the whole way through.
A custom 17 panel solar system
The solar is hooked up to the commercial side of the building. It’s a 17 panel, 4.93 kilowatt system and I can already see that it’s performing. We’re doing our best to be a greener restaurant. With a young family that is something we think about as well as being more economical in our business. Power is a really large cost and one that gets to the point where you can’t really minimise it much more. It was an investment in the future of our business and allows us to promote ourselves as a greener establishment.
It’s a beautiful building and we’re really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve — to take on a building like that and make it look as close as it can to the way it was built. The way in which the solar install was done doesn’t impact on the beauty of the building at all. Hopefully it will be good for another 150 years! We’re really proud to live in Maitland and to have helped to contribute to the renewal of the city.”