A secondhand house for Cheslyn Rise

Feb 24 2013 0 Comments Tags: house

After living in an old Queenslander in the Lockyer Valleyfor several years before moving to Nanango, Pete and I were convinced that we never wanted to own another one.  They are beautiful, but a lot of work to maintain and sometimes have a very odd layout.  The house that we lived in was raised up to allow storage under the house, and with 8ft ceilings, it was very difficult to reach all of the external walls to paint them.  It also had the toilet located off the porch as you came in the back door, which wasn’t very nice on cold nights!

We were also sure that we didn’t want a cheap modern house.  Our house at Nanango is made of a product called “hardiplank”, which is fibre cement sheeting moulded to look like wood weatherboards.  It doesn’t look like wood weatherboards, it looks like moulded cement sheeting (I have heard that you can get a nicer version of this, but ours seems to be the cheapest option).  The inside has been fitted out very cheaply with just plasterboard walls and tile flooring, with a raked ceiling.  Every time we want to hang a picture we miss the “VJs” (vertical join) boards in the Queenslander, you can hang a picture anywhere on the wall without worrying what’s behind the plasterboard!  When I go into other modern houses I notice how low the ceilings are, at least ours is raked, so it doesn’t seem so bad, but I miss the high ceilings in the Queenslander.

We were planning to build a new house, but when we looked at the options, we really couldn't decide anything, from cladding to internal walls, nothing seemed to suit us, being that we wanted quality, it seemed like we would be saving for years to afford what we wanted.  Actually we were leaning towards rammed earth construction….. and then we found a second-hand house.  We weren’t really looking for one, but Pete loves his realestate.com.au, and was checking out houses and land in our area when he found a small Queenslander for removal, only 15 km from Cheslyn Rise.  We looked at the photos online, and then we went for a visit in person, and of course we couldn’t resist a sweet little Queenslander, so we made an offer and now its ours for removal.  Its not totally finalised, we are still making all the arrangements, I wouldn't normally tell you about it until it was definite, but its getting difficult NOT to tell you because I want to write a post about houses!

Our second hand house, ready to move....
When I called the council to ask about the removal process, the lady asked me if it was a second-hand house.  I hadn’t thought about it like that before, but I suppose it is second-hand.  It feels good to recycle it, we could never afford to fit out a new house with VJs, but this way we get the walls we want, and no fibre cement cladding!  The best part was when we talked to our neighbour and it turned out that his mother grew up in that house, so I’m glad that we could keep it in the general area. 
While it initially seemed like a cheap option, and I hope it will still end up being cheaper and quicker than our well-built new house, its probably not much different to buying a new relocatable or cheaply built hardiplank or brick house.  I wouldn’t normally go into details of the cost, but as we have gone along, there have been a number of small unexpected costs, just because we didn’t know the process very well, and I thought by listing some rough figures here, it may help others to plan their house removal project.  Please remember that these are estimates only based on our experiences and your own costs may be very different.

The house itself only cost us $10,000.  Removal 15km and restumping is just under $40,000.  Those are the two major costs, but there are quite a few other small unexpected costs involved in getting the building approved for removal from the site and then approved on the new site.  These will depend on the council at each end of the move, but to give you an idea of what to look for:

  • Soil test and wastewater plan– about $1000 (depends also on travel to site, most are in metro areas)

  • Council bond - $17000 until the building is 'sound'
  • Council fees – nearly $1000

  • Drawings of the building – about $1500

  • Engineering drawings and energy efficiency – about $500

  • Certification – at least $2000

  • Plumber to disconnect at site - ?
  • Engineer’s inspection – about $1000

  • Owner builder permit – about $150 (even if you aren’t actually planning on doing anything to the house yourself, its best to just get an owner builder permit, as you will be coordinating all the contractors.  Any work over $11000 requires a permit, unless you have a “lead contractor” with a BSA licence) - and then $340 for the actually permit!  You also need to do the White Card construction induction course (I already had that one at least). 
Its surprising how quickly this adds up and makes a $10000 house more like a $70000 house and that’s before you do the rest of the work on the new site.  In order to get the final building approval, the following may be required, depending on the council and the state of the house:

  • Septic and plumbing connection

  • Re-wiring (even if this wiring is ok, this is an opportunity to put power points and switches where you want them, most Queenslanders were built prior to electricity, so the wiring done later can be quite odd).

  • Water tanks

  • Energy efficiency requirements (eg insulation, solar hot water)

  • Owner builder insurance

  • In some areas you have to also replace the roof sheeting
This is our project so far, and I can’t wait for it to all be over and I can show you the finished house ready for us to move in!  We’ve only had the contract for a few weeks and all the work to find out what needs to be done and engaging contractors has been crazy, but often with this kind of thing, if we don’t just jump in and start something we would still have been procrastinating over the type of house we wanted J
If anyone has any removal house or general building tips to share, please go ahead….  So what do you think of our second-hand house?

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