After having two architects quote on our job and seeing the astronomical quotes that resulted (up to $80,000!!), a designer/draftsman seemed the only way to go. That suited us fine as the idea in our heads was pretty straightforward. We simply wanted to build on the existing character to create a home that emulates a traditional style. The modern, steel and glass extensions that people seem so keen to add to Queenslanders wasn’t for us. We wanted classic.
We found that on our street was a house which started off life very similar to us, but had been extended to the side to create a far grander iteration of its former self. We hadn’t realised it’d ever once looked like ours, and it was only through some casual nosy browsing on RP Data that we stumbled upon the old photos. A conversation with our neighbour informed us that the previous owner was a builder and had done it himself. I got his contact details off RP Data, gave him a call and found out he used a low-cost local design firm to do his plans: Alderley Design on Eagle St – in Alderley.
They came out straight away to look at the house, quoted it up (saying they couldn’t imagine it’d come in more than $10,000) and we were in business.
It’s been a long process – around 18 months of design work and plenty of to-ing and fro-ing. It wasn’t helped when our initial ideas were completely knocked back by Brisbane City Council’s development team at Development Approval stage. We loved our original plans and how they looked from the front elevation. We had an 18 metre open front verandah, a large front rotunda to take in the views, and a fantastic roofline.
Unfortunately, on the day of our 10th wedding anniversary – while out having a drink to celebrate the milestone – we received the terrible news that our plans were disallowed. Apparently a new directive from the Council meant that extensions to character homes need to look clearly different to the original, so that the original is distinguishable against the new. This completely contradicted what we wanted to achieve and we were torn between being incredibly depressed about the situation, and being sure we could probably talk our way around this one. SURELY Council would approve them once I’d had a conversation about what we were trying to achieve?!?
But no. They didn’t. So it was back to the drawing board. Alderley Design threw in a lot of free hours to get our plans re-jigged, given they should have been aware of the renovation parameters.
Eventually, we arrived at a set of plans we’re happy with. They’re not the amazing original ones, but they’re still nice. We just pretend the first set never happened as it’s too depressing to think we can’t proceed with them!
Here are our elevations. They’re very simply drawn and don’t show the level of detailing that we’ll be incorporating at build stage. I’m a big fan of ornate verandah brackets, laser cut gables, column/post moulding… and lacework. I know lacework can be controversial – people either love it or hate it. I’m definitely in the ‘love’ camp though and I’ve been discussing our lacework requirements with Gary at Chatterton Laceworks – looks like we’ll be doing full width verandah panels in lace, as well as newels the full length of the stairs.
The finished house will have six bedrooms, two large living areas (one upstairs, one down), front and rear decks, and a double garage. I’m dreading the cleaning!
I definitely think designers and draftsmen are the best solution for Queenslanders that are to retain their traditional characteristics. I’ve heard Colonial Concepts is another good design firm – cost effective and well versed in how to create a heritage-style look.