Jim Fabish stands out front of his dream home on Gray St, which he raised 2.7m following the December-January floods.
Jim Fabish stands out front of his dream home on Gray St, which he raised 2.7m following the December-January floods. Lindsey Jackson

The only way is up

JIM and Teresa Fabish built their dream home in Emerald five years ago and are determined not to let that dream get washed away again.

While the couple was lucky to avoid floodwaters through their Gray St home in 2008 - they lapped 500mm under the floorboards - this year was a different story.

About 300mm inundated the house, destroying belongings and devastating the family of five.

But they were determined to hold onto their most prized possession and were the first family in town to raise their home well above the December-January flood level.

After enlisting the help of Busby’s House Removal from Rockhampton, the Fabish’s home is now 2.7m off the ground and ready to take on any future disasters.

“We were only going to go up a metre initially, but we decided to go up 2.7m instead,” Jim said.

“We were one of the lucky ones though because our house was already on stumps and there are a lot of houses in the area that aren’t.”

Jim said he was not interested in moving as he considered his land to be “the best block in town”.

“That’s our dream home so there was no way we were moving anywhere else,” he said.

While the cost of the project was setting the family back about $80,000, which included raising the house, replacing 58 adjustable stumps and concreting underneath, Jim said he hadn’t thought twice about the decision.

“We decided pretty much straight after the floods we were going to do it,” he said.

“The heartache that you go through when you get flooded far outweighs the cost of doing this.”

Jim, Teresa and their three children have been living in a shed in the front yard for the past five months, where they also run their business J&L Mining.

It was only recently the couple decided to start renting a property in town until the house was completed.

“Five months in the shed can get pretty tough, especially with three kids,” Jim said.

While raising the home was no small feat, it only took six days to complete, with work finishing today.

But the family will have to wait until September before they can finally move back home, as work hasn’t even started on the inside of the home.

Just around the corner from the Fabishes was another resident who had his home raised after the floods in 2008.

Roy Druit wasn’t leaving anything to chance after his home was inundated two years ago and sourced a group from Mackay to lift the home.

“We were out of the house for about 16 weeks after the 2008 floods and we were living there for about six months before we had it lifted,” he said.

Roy has lived in his Riverview St home for the past 14 years and said he hadn’t thought about moving from the area, but knew it would probably flood again.

Like Jim, Roy said it was one of the best decisions he had ever made and agreed the cost of lifting the home was nothing compared to the heartache of having it flooded.

And the decision paid off as he was sitting high and dry after this year’s deluge.

Busby’s commercial manager Ron Busby said the Fabishes home was the first of many.

“We’ve had about 10 inquiries from Emerald,” Ron said.

“It was terrible to see the sadness and the distress on people’s faces even when we were quoting out there – you could see they were at their lowest point.

“It’s almost unbelievable to see how high the water came.”

He said the cost of raising a home depended on the size of the house and how many stumps had to be replaced.

“It also depends on how high off the ground it needs to be raised,” he said.

“Because of the movement of the black soil in the area, we put adjustable tops on the stumps so that if there is movement it can be adjusted and re-levelled.”


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