Housing future could lie in past

This beautiful Queenslander near The Leap, north of Mackay, was built by Fergus Builders and won the Master Builders Best Heritage Style Home for 2010.
This beautiful Queenslander near The Leap, north of Mackay, was built by Fergus Builders and won the Master Builders Best Heritage Style Home for 2010. Dean Whitling

DO YOU remember the old 'Queenslander'? Open plan, verandas all round, high ceilings - the list goes on.

Since this classic style of house was the norm, building regulations might have tightened, costs skyrocketed and block sizes shrunk; yet we can't seem to crush our love for the Queenslander.

But are these beautiful houses a thing of the past?

The Bligh Government has proposed new Government planning guidelines encouraging a return to traditional, high-set, Queenslander style housing in flood-prone areas.

There is no denying the traditional Queenslander style home, designed to allow cool breezes to circulate through the house during hot summers and to let floodwater flow underneath can be more energy efficient and safer in flood-prone areas, but are they practical for Mackay?

"I think a lot of people would like one but they are very cost inhibiting," Master Builders Queensland regional manager Malcolm Hull said.

"To build a Queenslander in the style we are traditionally accustomed to is quite expensive in relation to what we can build today.

"The Government needs to do a cost benefit analysis on the whole thing before proceeding with specific regulations."

Graham Bundesen, of Fergus Builders, agreed saying Fergus had had only had one enquiry about building a traditional Queenslander in the past 12 months.

"I believe that most people are buying in inner city locations, not really in the bush," Mr Bundesen said.

New bushfire regulations were also making it much more expensive to build Queenslanders in rural locations, he said.

"It can add up to $50,000 to the cost just to comply with the regulations," he said.

"They are absolutely more expensive to build... These days everyone is going with blocks and render.

"It is without a doubt a good idea to build one of these homes in flood-prone areas."

Mackay Regional Council development services director Peter Cardiff said new technology was giving council a more accurate understanding of where flooding occurs in our region and already had regulations for building in flood-prone areas.

"We don't want to raise development in flood-prone areas," Mr Cardiff said.

"While dwellings in these areas may not be the old style, they are elevated," he said.

Topics:  housing master builders

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