Later this month (pending weather), we finally start the long planned renovations to our 1950’s fibro and timber cottage. Built in the post-war housing boom, the land was originally owned by the government and built for the Department of Housing. This house is pretty much all original, minus a wall that divides the kitchen from the dining and living that looks like it was knocked out around 2008 judging by old real estate photos. From what we can tell from a grainy 1955 aerial photo, there was also an outhouse that was knocked down sometime before 1965.
There isn’t much in terms of “features” in the current house. It is a 2 bedder and has a total size of about 70sqm. It’s typical of a 1950’s affordable housing build, consisting of fibro exterior (and some interior) walls, pine timber floors, timber double-hung sash windows, 3/4 height dado rails and nice 9ft (2.8m) high ceilings. The lighting has been updated to modern down-lights and the kitchen had an Ikea upgrade sometime this decade. There was once a fireplace however this was boarded up in the early 2000’s and is now home to a possum. Another possum also inhabits the roof space. Sometimes they fight in the middle of the night.
Insulation mustn’t have been a “thing” in the 50’s because this house has none of it. The house is freezing cold in the winter and stinking hot in the summer. It is almost impossible to control the temperature and if it wasn’t for the $400-a-quarter-to-run split system reverse cycle air conditioning we would have moved out a long time ago. Even still, in the middle of winter we wake up to dripping wet walls and and have to regularly scrub the mould off them. During summer it is usually warmer inside the house than outside and the air-con runs all night. As soon as we turn it off the cool air escapes from the non-insulated walls and quickly climbs to a balmy 35 degrees.
Despite its age, the house is pretty solid. We have had some high winds and heavy rain over the years and the ceiling has remained dry. The stormwater drains are all blocked up and during heavy downpours we have our own waterfall. We also could have got all of this fixed over the past 4 years, but we always planned to renovate. It has just taken us longer than we thought it would to get to this point.
The government sold the house around 2004 and we are the third owners since then. The previous owner also had big plans for this house however they had a child and it all understandable become a bit too hard so we purchased it in 2010 for around $550,000. Similar houses in the area are now selling for $750,000+.
While this neat and tidy house has served many families over the years, some who probably needed it more than others, it is nearly 65 years old. Although we love living with native Australian wildlife, it is time to give it a bit of a facelift and create some more space to hopefully one day be home to our family.