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Australian Housing Industry

Updated on July 10, 2019

A small queen-slander house renewal

This is how this small queen-slander house looks today, after being raised and renewed. You see you can do a lot of things with these timber houses. You could even move them to another address.
This is how this small queen-slander house looks today, after being raised and renewed. You see you can do a lot of things with these timber houses. You could even move them to another address. | Source
This is the same house as above, before the renovation works. It is a small version of the queens-lander  house, it is about to be re-stumped and some other renovation done to it, as we are showing it above.
This is the same house as above, before the renovation works. It is a small version of the queens-lander house, it is about to be re-stumped and some other renovation done to it, as we are showing it above. | Source

Building houses in the sixties

Building work in Australia

Welcome to our article (33), Australian building industry

Dear readers, in our previous articles we said that we are going to write about DIY brickwork and other building things, which we believe can help people that are willing to try DIY small building or repairs, but first let me explain how I acquired that knowledge myself. You see, this article explains how I started to work in the building industry, and later I became a building tradesman.

When I came to Australia in the sixties I ended up working in the building industry, we were working mainly on fixing old houses, or building new house from scratch, units and warehouses, so, I ended up learning how lots of building things were done, in the end I became a bricklayer, and have worked most of my life as a bricklayer.

Anyhow, in this article we are going to write about; the Australian housing industry in the sixties; Working in the Australian housing and building industry; Earning and saving money if you can; and Working with this Italian builder.

We believe that the Australian housing and building industry, was and is one of the major employment industries in Australia, you can say that this is so also in other countries. But I believe that in other countries building new houses is not as important as it is in Australia. One of the reasons for this is that Australia is a new country, it needs and takes in many emigrants. In the sixties Australia was taking emigrants in a regulated way, now because the population grows steadily also accommodation need to grow steadily, therefore, new houses need to be built to keep a steady balance. This building of new houses gives many opportunities for the newcomers to be employed, since there is manual work involved, therefore, a healthy cycle is created; but even with these opportunities the building industry has its ups and down, as we know. So, let us talk about it and try to make sense, if we can.

We know that the housing building industry and real estate are linked together, since they should work together to complete the cycle of supplying to the public what is needed, so, both have their ups and downs and it cannot be avoided.

You see, it could have been helpful if one could foretell what is going to happen next year, on the housing market, but it is not possible to guess what is going to happen in the future. If people can know this, then they could make money, since they could invest their money at the right time.

Now, for those buying a house and saving to buy a house. We are going to write another article about buying houses, because now I want to tell my story about working in the building industry, building houses.

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Typical timber high-set house

This high-set house is very much like the many houses that I have worked on, as they were mostly built around the sixties when I came to Australia. Today houses are somehow different, because most likely we would enclose the bottom part.
This high-set house is very much like the many houses that I have worked on, as they were mostly built around the sixties when I came to Australia. Today houses are somehow different, because most likely we would enclose the bottom part.

Working in the house building industry

As I have said in one of my last articles, when I came to Australia from Italy, I ended up working in the building industry. Now let me explain this working position, working on building in Australia is a temporary job, because even the employer is subject to the same opportunities of work and he cannot help it, therefore, one is never sure what is going to happen next, when the job you are working on is finished, therefore, there were concerns about our employment status, so, we kept asking ourselves, whether our employer would get another job to do, before we finished the one we were doing, but even though we were thinking that, we still worked hard to finish the job on hand, as soon as possible, because to find work you had to be competitive.

Well I should say that although this small Italian builder did lots of small jobs, it did work out all right most times, so, we were able to move from one job to another all-around Brisbane and to other close by town/s. Of course, this would cause worries if you had no transport of your own and you had to rely on some friends or the employer to take you on the work site, where the building was going to be built, but we managed somehow.

I remember that there were times, when I had to get up early and catch the first tram to the city, and then I had to catch the second tram to another suburb, where the builder would pick me up and drive me to the onsite job, in the evening after eight hours or more of hard work, I had to go back home, which took again a long time, but anyhow we managed all right, after all we were here in Australia to earn money, so, as long as we had a job to go to and earn that money, we were happy to do that. You see, on building sites workers can earn above other people wages, but there was this uncertainty because there was no guaranty that the work would last, and it also was hard work all day long.

Anyhow, it was a good job with good opportunities to learn and improve your knowledge of building something yourself. You see, in those times we could improve our working and earning position more easily than today; it was possible then because a lot of things were simple, and therefore, they could be done just by using your common sense. Of course, there were always inspections from local authorities to follow, but once you knew what it was required they were easy to follow, if you used your brains diligently, therefore, we should say that we had more opportunities then compared to today opportunities. I believe that it was so, because the building we were building were small houses, so, if you were a tradesman, you most likely could be the builder as well.

Having said that, now let us see now this type of work affected us newcomers moneywise.

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Houses building in Queensland

This is how most house on stumps look like during construction, this house may be set on timber stumps, but it is very much the same if the stumps were of concrete
This is how most house on stumps look like during construction, this house may be set on timber stumps, but it is very much the same if the stumps were of concrete

Learing how to earn and saving money

Whatever you do in life, the most important thing is; Earning and saving money

In my case and other people like myself, because there was uncertainty of not having a permanent job in the building industry, we soon learned that whatever money we earned from our job, we had to save some, otherwise we could have problems soon or later; so, this disadvantage that we had in this job pushed most of us building workers to become good at saving money, because we wanted to feel safe and independent.

So, let me talk about money. In Australia because the economy is based on capitalism the more money you can earn and save the better off you are; of course, this is also true to most other part of the world, but in Australia seems to be more so, because it is a new country, and people rely more on what they can earn than anywhere else in the world. This is because there are not existing reach families that live on the earnings of the properties that have been passed down from generation to generations. Therefore, in Australia is mostly up to yourself, if you want to get richer, you should try harder to earn and save money. You see, most of the people here, have earned their own money.

Therefore, we must understand that in Australia, not only you have to try to earn money, but it is very important that you should save it too, and at the same time you have to try to improve your working position, so that you can be more independent and not rely on others. This attitude can help if it happens that you lose your temporary job, and also by saving money you can start one day to buy your own house, which is the most important thing that people must do, if they want to live an independent decent life. I know now that most of you are saying that this buying a house is a hard thing to do, but you see, this can be done because I have done it myself.

Anyhow, I believe that I have said enough about this money business; so, let me go back to tell you about what I did in the building industry to become a tradesman. But first let me tell you what we did and my progress in this building job, so that we can compare what was available then and what opportunities are available now, while I was working with this Italian small builder.

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Profiles and house plan

Profiles are erected on the construction sites, in order to give the building workers, the right size and the position of the various elements of whatever is being built, one can extend this to even give the levels required.
Profiles are erected on the construction sites, in order to give the building workers, the right size and the position of the various elements of whatever is being built, one can extend this to even give the levels required.
House floor plan, of course this is only one simple floor plan, but there are several plans even to build a house, starting from a foundation plan and specifications.
House floor plan, of course this is only one simple floor plan, but there are several plans even to build a house, starting from a foundation plan and specifications.

Working for this Italian builder

Working and learning with this small Italian builder

Dear readers, in these articles that we are writing, while I am telling you the story about myself working in the Australian building industry, I am going to try to give you details of how things were done in dose days; therefore, if you are one of those people that want to do your own building renovations one day, on those building that we built then, you can somehow guess what you can find, because you already know how we built them.

Now let me go back to when I started work with this Italian builder, who was a bricklayer and concreter, we were working on houses and because there was not enough bricklaying work on these houses, as they were mostly built with timber, we were building only the foundations, the concrete stumps and some brickwork as the base of the house. Of course, we did also some jobs under the existing houses and this has given me an opportunity to learn many things about those old houses in Brisbane.

Just for comparison sake, to see the difference between those times and today, let me describe to you what we did to prepare a new base for a new timber house, which would be setting on concrete stumps and some brick walls.

First of all we went to set up the site, if it was not set up from the builder or carpenter that was building the timber house. This setting up required that we should fix some timber frame to the ground with pegs and per the measurement in the plan. These timber frames are called profiles, and they are marked accurately to the measurement on the plan, so that we had the right measurement to go by, to start digging the foundations for the stumps and brick walls.

Then we had to dig the foundations and this was mostly my job as I was the labour and I was pretty good at digging, this may seem hard to believe but even digging one has to be an expert to do a good job, as the shape and depth of the foundations is important to do a good job. Just to show you what I mean to dig a hole for a new concrete stump, 20x20 centimetres as most stumps were supposed to be; the hole for this stump should be in exactly the right place, it should be at least sixty centimetres deep in natural ground and at the bottom should have a circumference of at least 40 centimetres or more. These were the average specifications then, unless it was stated otherwise. I know this because I have dug several hundreds of them if not thousands.

All the tools that I needed to do this digging job were a pick a post hole shovel and a crowbar, it usually would take me a couple of days to dig the entire house holes, which could usually be between twenty and thirty holes. You see I was able to dig a hole in less than half an hour, but it was hard work. Sometimes when there was some brickwork to do, we had also to dig these foundations by hand; the foundations were usually dug according to specification, which usually would be 60 centimetre deep in the natural ground, this means that if the grounds had been filled up that filling should not be counted as depth, of course, this was the same as the holes we dug for the concrete stumps.

Anyhow, before I finish writing this article, I want to say that those houses that we were building in the sixties, with this builder contractor that I was working for, they were average affordable house that the average family could afford to buy, and therefore, they were sold easily.

Now, I believe that I have said enough in this article and although there is a lot more that could be said, we are going to tell you in our next article, which is going to be about how we made those concrete stumps on site, while we were working on these affordable houses.

See you soon.

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© 2012 F-Menchise

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