Renovating a Queenslander home

So you've found your dream home. It's a Queenslander-style home with a large sprawling verandah, timber stairs and ornate decoration. What should you do next?

Typical Queenslander home

The home’s entrances are grand, and the French doors are just magnificent. But the property has been neglected, and it’s in desperate need of renovation. So how do you restore this Australian gem to its former glory, and hopefully bring it into the 21st century with all its heritage intact?
There are a number of ways that you can renovate a Queenslander-style home. However, before you start, it’s important for you to understand the heritage of the home. These factors will help you to bring out the best in the property and to be aware of council regulations.
Queenslander-style home

The history

A unique form of Australian architecture, the Queenslander was one of the first homes to be built in Australia. Developed in the 1940s, this style of home was an adaption of the bungalow designed housing that British army officers had previously made in Bengal, India. The Indian home with a raised floor allowed for better cooling and pest reduction, making it an ideal prototype design for the tropical climate of Queensland.
Over time, the Queenslander evolved. With Queensland prone to floods, the home was elevated on tree stumps. This ingenious idea allowed for river flood waters to flow under the home without damaging the property. Another benefit was it was difficult for white ants, which destroyed timber homes, to get into the property. Homeowners could also store their livestock, farm implements and vehicles under their home, which meant they saved on the costs of outbuildings for storage.
With the Queensland sun being hot, adjustable timber louvres and latticework were fixed between the wooden posts of verandahs to increase shade. These innovations first appeared at the end of the 19th century, and demand for these vertical wooden blades increased. This development led to the invention of moving timber slatted blinds, which saw the modern shades of today begin to become a reality.
Steel, pitched roof of a typical Queenslander home

Architectural style

Predominantly made from timber and iron, the Queenslander has a weatherboard exterior, with wide, flowing timber verandahs surrounding the home. The property’s roof is made from metal and has a steep pitch. Double-hung wooden windows and doors give this style of dwelling an openness that is warm and welcoming. Ornate balustrading, decorative timber, and wrought iron features along the front of the home and at the entrance add an element of grandeur – as does the latticework and timber blinds.
Today the Queenslander’s timber is typically made from treated hardwood. In the 1840s, preservation of the wood meant covering the stumps in creosote, sump oil and lampblack. Today’s treatments are a little more advance, but they still increase the lifespan of the wood and prevent white ant damage.

Signature floor plan

A Queenslander typically has a floor plan that consists of four to six rooms. These rooms are placed symmetrically around a long and central corridor that gives home users access to the verandahs. Shaded by the verandah, all rooms within the home are naturally cooled, and the whole house is stump elevated to suit the terrain.
Queenslander home with bottom level living completed through excavation and renovation

Effective renovation ideas

The development of many areas in Queensland is putting the traditional Queenslander under pressure, as older homes are being demolished to make way for newer, more compact living. However, with the traditional Queenslander being iconic and representing Australian history, many of these homes are sought after. As a result, they are fetching premium values when sold, especially when fully restored.
Some innovative approaches that can be adopted when remodelling and renovating, include the following:
- Renovating the exterior of the home by excavating underneath to utilise the bottom level for living.
- Keeping the external shell of the property, but thoroughly refurbishing the interior to bring it up to modern day specifications.
- Increasing the amount of natural light in the home by introducing larger windows and installing skylights.
- Removing walls to open the home up and repainting the interior to make it more appealing.
- Remodelling the bathrooms and kitchens, and installing modern appliances, fixtures and fittings.
- Re-roofing and re-cladding the exterior of the home to bring it up to speed with new more durable materials.
- Restoring weathered and tired verandahs and rejuvenating these spaces for improved outdoor living.
Before renovations of a Queenslander can begin, it is important to check if the home is in a “Character Protection Area” or listen on the “Heritage Register”. If the property is, then the homeowner will need to talk to a renovation builder to obtain a permit from the council to carry out any works on the property.

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If you would like a free, no obligation initial design and build consultation to discuss options and ideas for your next home renovation project, enquire online or use the enquiry form alongside to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project.

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