Australia affordable houses

The affordable small houses

A simple small house because it would be more affordable, it will attrack more buyers  than a large and well decorated house. that is why there are builders that will build small house instead of larger one.
A simple small house because it would be more affordable, it will attrack more buyers than a large and well decorated house. that is why there are builders that will build small house instead of larger one. | Source

Australia affordable houses

Welcome to my hub ((7) (34)), Australia affordable houses

Dear readers, in our last article, we were talking about earning and saving money, one of the aims for saving money, is that most of us would like to buy our own house. So, let us talk about those house that we the workers could afford.

As we all know, in Australia as well as in other part of the world not all the houses are the same, because houses come in a variety of styles and sizes, for many reasons. Of course, we all would like to buy and live in the best houses available on the market, but most of us would not be able to afford large expansive houses, therefore, we should be happy to live in any house that we can afford to buy or rent.

For this simple reason of affordability, to satisfy the house supply market so to speak, there are several types of house that are being built at any given time. In this article, we are not going to talk about the many type of house that could be built, because we are only saying this to point out to you what sorts of houses that I ended up working on in the early sixties. Because this article is meant to cover the story of my life, as well as what I did for a living.

In the early sixties, I ended up working on average houses that the working class could afford to buy, or at least the aim of the builders that were building them for was based in this affordability, since they had designed them with this purpose in mind, because in the end, even though they had been built cheap not all of us workers would be able to afford to buy these types of houses. But anyhow this was the purpose of building these types of affordable houses in the early sixties.

Now let us try to describe how we build these types of houses from scratch.

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Photo of some suburban houses

There are many type of houses in the town, but we can only buy those houses that we can afford. Therefore building affordable houses might be the best way to go.
There are many type of houses in the town, but we can only buy those houses that we can afford. Therefore building affordable houses might be the best way to go.

Building houses from scratch

My story of building affordable houses from scratch

Let me say this, one of the reasons why I have started writing all these articles about building houses is because, I would like to tell you the story of my life and what I did when I came to Australia. But at the same time, I would like to write something useful to my readers, and I believe that knowing how the houses are built might be useful for my readers, since knowing a few things about building houses comes handy at times; you see, we all live in houses and therefore we would like to know as much as we can about them. Because sometimes we need to know how to do it yourself repairs and other things, since houses need to be maintained well, if we want to enjoy them fully.

Now what I am telling you here is the story of my life and how I worked in the building industry, but while I am doing that I am going to try to describe how these building things were and are done with as many details as I can, so that anyone interested in houses might be able to learn something useful from these building articles.

Now has I have explained already in our last hub, I was working in the building industry with this Italian builder, which was good for me because my native language is Italian. Now, with this builder not only we were re-stumping or building rooms under the existing houses, which required a lot of work to be done by hand, but we would also build new houses from scratch. As I have already said at the beginning of the sixties most of the digging were still done by hand, specially the type of work that we were doing on these new houses, as machines were expensive to hire then, So, they were used mostly if there was a lot of digging to be done and with the machines of those days one could only dig straight forward things and not small detailed digging, as they were required to build these type of houses, anyhow as I said, I did a lot of this digging work myself, as I was employed as builder labour, and this was one of the jobs that I had to do.

Therefore now, let us imagine that I have finished digging the foundation and these stump holes for this new house, and now, we need to lay concrete in the foundation, and to concrete the stumps foundation and the stumps themselves. So, let us go over what we had to do, because in those times these things were all done by hand and started from scratch.

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Typical concrete mixer

This is a typical concrete mixer to mix concrete and mortar to lay bricks used on site, they can be electric or have a petrol engine.
This is a typical concrete mixer to mix concrete and mortar to lay bricks used on site, they can be electric or have a petrol engine.

Making your own concrete

Making your own concrete on site from scratch

Let me explain, what is meant by concrete in buildings and how it is made, because it would be good to know. You see, if during your life, you are going to do any sort of renovations, it would be useful to know how to make your own concrete properly, so that you might understand what is required and how and why it must be done in certain ways, you will find this information written in this hub. Some people might say here that today things are usually done in a different way, so why bother to tell us all this stuff about how to mix concrete properly, when we can buy the concrete ready mixed by truckload, or in bags and all you should do is to add water to make concrete. I say, okay, you can do that. But there are times and places, when you should do these things the old way.

Therefore, I believe that you still need to know how concrete is made from scratch, because that is the only way if you don’t want to make costly mistakes. Therefore, let me tell you how we were mixing our own concrete in the sixties and also what is usually required to do that and how it is supposed to be done, if you want a good job done and the concrete to last a long time.

By the way, here we need to clarify one thing as I am worried that some people might not be sure what is meant by the word concrete, because usually they would replace it with the word cement; on building the word concrete means all the element mixed together able to harden to a solid consistency within a certain length of time, therefore it has got to be done the right way.

One of the most important things while mixing concrete is that the concrete should be well mixed and to a workable consistency using the least amount of water possible, because if too much water is used then the concrete becomes weaker, therefore it must be done properly.

Usually concreting and other jobs are done according to its specifications, you see any good firm that makes building plans, which may be just a small house or something else of more importance, and they have to writes also the specification how the job needs to be done. In these specifications it will be written what material to use how to use it and also the quantity and quality required. Therefore to concrete say a foundation for an average small house, the specification written in those times could usually say that the concrete should be mixed to a consistency at least 1 to 6; for people that knew this it meant that to mix the concrete you should use 1 part of Portland cement 2 parts of river sand and 4 parts of gravel (aggregate) and mix it as required until an even consistency is achieved. For the stumps usually would be a bit more cement than the foundations. But I have to say that sometimes even these rules had to be changed a bit depending on the material that could be delivered on that local site.

Now let us say that we are ready to start mixing the first batch of concrete, as we have made everything ready, and everything has been delivered. To make concrete you need at least four elements of materials plus clean water; 1 Portland cement, 2 washed river sand, 3 clean or washed gravel and 4 reinforcement steel rods, and also it is helpful if you have a mixer if you have to mix a large amount of concrete, because to mix by hand is hard work and the concrete needs to be well mixed.

Now let us start the mixer and make the first batch, while the mixer is turning around, the very first thing you put in the mixer is water, one must be careful not to put too much water to start with, it has got to be just enough to mix everything to a certain consistency, so let us say that we put 8 litres of water (the amount of water can be different, since it depends on the amount of water that is already in the (sand gravel) aggregate) then we put in the mixer cement, next is the river sand twice as much as the cement and then the clean gravel 4 time as much as the cement; here the mixer is going around and mixing everything together.

Please note, that if you change the way you put your materials in the mixer, from what I have described above, you may have different result, and usually it would take longer to mix everything properly and to the right consistency.

For people that do this job all the time it is easy for them to see if the concrete that is being mixed has the right consistency required, once you know this, if it is too dry just add a bit of water and if it is too wet you should add a bit of everything else. There you are it is not too hard if you know how to do it.

What I have written above here applies only to house building of less importance, for building that are large and important the concrete needs to be to a very high standard and specifications, so, here again you need to know what is needed before you do anything.

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Steel reinforcement in buildings

Here are some typical steel reinforcement used in buildings, there are many more types and sizes. Note the way the steel has been tied up for the foundations or beams, there are also loose steel bars that could be used, we used 4 10 mm rods in stumps
Here are some typical steel reinforcement used in buildings, there are many more types and sizes. Note the way the steel has been tied up for the foundations or beams, there are also loose steel bars that could be used, we used 4 10 mm rods in stumps
Stepped foundations, when the ground is not flat it is necessary to lay the foundations with steps in them, so that the foundations are level for the bricklayers to lay bricks on them. See the picture this is a typical way of laying the foundations.
Stepped foundations, when the ground is not flat it is necessary to lay the foundations with steps in them, so that the foundations are level for the bricklayers to lay bricks on them. See the picture this is a typical way of laying the foundations.

Concrete requires team work

To concrete usually requires team work

To concrete well and do a fair amount of work on these houses you need a team, even if it is only a small team. Our team was usually three of us, I as builder labour, John as bricklayer and Con the contractor who was a bricklayer and concreter. We didn’t mind if we switched around a bit to do the job. So, I was usually on the mixer mixing the concrete, one was with a wheelbarrow taking the concrete from the mixer to the foundations that we were concreting and one was fixing the concrete in place.

Fixing the concrete for the foundation was physically the lightest job, when we were mixing the concrete with this mixer on site, but it also was/is the most responsible job, because while concreting the foundations first of all you have to make sure that the steel rods reinforcement was in the right position, at the same time you had to pack the concrete down and then the concrete in the foundations has to be finished level, this was easy when the ground was level, but when the ground was not level, it was necessary that some steps were made and they had to be to gauge, which was equal to the thickness of one or two laid bricks or more, or perhaps the thickness of a laid block, if blocks were going to be used to build the walls on this foundation, whatever was going to be used to lay on the foundations, we had to try to make an adjustment while we were laying the foundations; therefore this was the job for the experts, at that time it was not that hard, because mixing by hand even using a mixer was a slow job, so the bloke that was fixing the concrete had plenty of time to do his job right.

What I have written above is how we used to lay some small foundations in the early sixties, which are much the same as we would lay foundations today, except that today we just order concrete already mixed, but we have to be really ready with everything and everything has got to be in the right place, because the concrete ready-mix truck will unload its concrete very quickly, so there is no time to do anything else except to fix the concrete at the right level as quickly as possible and as required.

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Concrete stumps under houses

This is one short concrete stump with ants capping; These type of stumps could be used up to 2.4 meter high under the houses, after that a bigger stump would be required.
This is one short concrete stump with ants capping; These type of stumps could be used up to 2.4 meter high under the houses, after that a bigger stump would be required.

Concreting stumps on site

Concreting stumps on site

Now let me go back again to the early sixties, when we were concreting these stumps on site, as this is not done very much today, the reasons for this change it is because the buildings have gradually changed in many ways and also today some of these stumps can be made in a concrete factory and when cured can be delivered to the building site, where the worker can erect them as required. There are other reasons also and later on we will be looking at this also.

To concrete these stumps on site we had some steel forms of various length, and these forms were assembled together with steel pins, so we first of all we would assemble these steel forms and then start to mix concrete, we had also make sure that the stumps foundations were exactly in the right place by using the marked profiles and tight line between them.

In this case, it was an easy job for the fellow that is mixing concrete, but a lot harder for the blokes that had to pour the concrete in the stumps formwork and make sure that the stump was exactly in the right place and finished at the right height and were also plumb (perfect vertical position). It was also necessary that some reinforcing rods were placed in the right position with a purpose made devise. These are how we made those onsite stumps in the sixties.

These concrete stumps that we made in the sixties were better that the timber stumps that they were replacing, because it was an improvement as they did not rot with the passing of time and the white ants would not eat them, as they did with the timber stumps. Here we could say that these concrete stumps on site were easy to make, if you knew the procedure, in fact it was easier to make a set of stumps than to fix concrete stumps made in the factory, as there was no heavy lifting involved.

But although these concrete stumps were easy to make, they would be hard to move to a different position. So, to anyone that is going to attempt to dig out these stumps to move them to a new position, they better think twice because I tell you that the part that is under the ground is a lot larger than the stumps at the top. Remember what I said in our previous hub, we had to dig a hole sixty centimetre dip in the natural ground, and at the bottom should be a level base not less than forty centimetres square.

I believe that we have said enough in this article as we have explained the work that we did on this affordable houses and we will be coming back to talk about more building work in our next hub, house building in Brisbane. See you soon.

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