Australian houses in Brisbane
Australia wooden houses of Brisbane
Welcome to our article (31), Australia wooden houses
Let us talk about the convenient wooden houses in Brisbane and Australia. When we came to Australia in the early sixties, we had a surprise, when we found that the houses were made of timber, which were different from the houses we had left in Europe, all build of solid masonry.
For us Italian migrants that had lived in solid masonry buildings, even if some of them were rustic buildings; when we arrived in Australia at the beginning it seemed strange that in Brisbane lots of houses were made of wood, and most of them were set on wooden stumps, but then we started thinking that they were still good to live in, so, we got used to live in them rather quickly.
So, we had to forget how we were living in my native town of Genzano di Lucania, since now we were living in Australia the Australian way, after all, as the saying goes, when you are in Rome do what the Romans do. But then, what were the reasons and why these houses were made of wood, or to use another word for wood how the locals called it, they were made of timber.
So, this question arises, why these houses were made of timber and not masonry? And then try to see if they were better or worse than the houses made of bricks or masonry. If we use logic reasoning there is no difference whether houses are made of timber or masonry, as long as they can give the people that live in them that filling of safety and privacy that we aspect from them, when we live in our own home.
Having said that now let us see or guess the reasons why these houses were made of timber, and why they were set on wooden stumps.
Brisbane worker wooden houses
The wooden houses on stumps
The wooden houses on stumps of Brisbane and Australia
As we have said, in Brisbane a lot of houses are made of timber, but not only are they made of timber, they are set on wooden stumps. So, let us see the reasons why they were made this way.
From what we have heard from the locals, we can conclude that there were several reasons why the houses were made of timber. The first reason is that when the first settlers started to build Brisbane, there were plenty of trees that could be cut down and make good timber to build those houses. And then the people that came to live in Brisbane and Australia had good knowledge how to use timber, since they came by boats, and because the boats of those days were mostly made of timber, there were always carpenters and carpenter tools on board, in case to boat needed repairs, so, to use timber and build timber houses was the easiest way for them, since they had the knowledge the tools and plenty of timber in the woods surrounding Brisbane, and other parts of Australia that needed houses.
At the beginning the houses were simple shelters, but as the time went by they became better, because the builders became aware of what would work better in this climate, you see, here around Brisbane and northward, when the wet season comes the ground becomes too wet for the houses to stand on the ground, in hot summer days everything becomes too hot and there were lots of vermin on the ground, so, they found a way how to build houses that would avoid most of these problems; that is why the houses on stumps became a necessity, of course slowly they became even better and even pretty, that is how the Queenslander house was born, which is a large house with verandas around them that keeps the weather and the hot sun off the main walls of the house. One can see these pretty Queensland houses if you look around even today.
The Queen-slander house
Typical houses decorations
The Queenslander houses
The Queenslander House
The Queenslander house is a large timber house; some of them are pretty and they serve the inhabitant well, as they have been built to take the advantage of the hot climate in Brisbane and north Queensland regions. Now since I have been working in these houses to maintain them, let me describe them to you in more details. As anyone can guess there are a few different types of these houses, but here we are talking about the large Queenslander and the workers cottage, which is a small and cheaper version of the large Queenslander.
As we have said, when the first settlers arrived here, there were plenty of trees around to make timber, a lot of this timber is called hardwood, which as the name suggests is hard and very strong, some of this timber are even stronger and longer lasting than the European oak or other strong European woods. So, the houses were strong and secure, the only natural enemy of these houses were the white ants (termites), which are able to eat through the wood and destroy the houses. The termites are native to Australia and if we go up north in Australia, we can see strange mounts of earth springing up from the ground, these is how the white ants live, they eat wood from the inside, and they make these mounts of earth.
So, as you can see this was another reason why the houses were built on stumps. The stumps were made of whole sections of trees that are resistant to rot; of course, the white ants were still able to eat those stumps, but they were treated with special paints and at the top they had a capping of metal that would make a barrier to the white ants if they came from the inside the stump, and also a barrier to the other ants or crawling insect from the outside.
We can say that some of these timber houses have been made pretty, because timber can be cut to different shapes easily, so, they were prettier compared to the house made of masonry, which is very expensive to decorate them with masonry, so, the houses are usually square boxes with a roof at the top.
Decorative fretwork was easy to make with timber, so, most houses had some decorations in them, in one way or the other. Now I can go on telling you how these houses were made, but that would be hard to do, so, I am going to search the Internet for photos that can show you what I mean, about fretwork and other timber names, anyhow there are a lot of names given to these pieces of timber that is hard for me to name and for the readers to understand what is meant by that particular name. So, I am going to leave it to your imagination, once you see the photos of the houses and the fretwork in them.
The white ants problem
These wooden houses need some care
The timber houses need maintenance and care. For those people that have not lived in timber houses before, they should ask questions about them before they get involved in owning one of these houses. The first question that will come to their mind is: are these houses safe to live in and how long these houses can last? And then, what maintenance they require? So, let me try to explain this timber housing situation.
Timber houses need more maintenance than masonry houses; because you need to paint them for the timber to last longer, otherwise the timber on the outside walls will slowly rot away, but then, there are also some advantages, because if you want to change something it can be done easily and it is cheaper than if you have a masonry house, therefore, it is a lot cheaper to do some alterations, so, it can work well after all.
Having said that we need to say that these wooden houses have some problems of their own, apart that they need to be painted for the external timber to last longer, they have some vermin enemies everywhere in the houses, because the timber is more vermin friendly than masonry and bricks and cement, but the normal vermin are not a big problem for the house structure itself.
The greatest enemy of these wooden houses are the termites, or white ants as some of us calls them; The white ants can destroy entire buildings by eating the wood from the inside, a lot of times people don’t even know that the white ants are there eating their houses away while they are living in them; you see, unless you know what you are looking for, it is hard to see any sign of them from the outside. So, one day suddenly we find out by putting pressure on a spot where the white ants have eaten the wood from inside, everything starts collapsing inward and where there was a wall now there is a big hole.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to learn how to recognize the signs if there are white ants; and call an expert to check the building if you are going to buy it.
White ants natural enemies
How to defend our homes from these pests
The white ant problem
There are a few things that we can do to prevent this pest destroy our homes; the first thing that we can do is to check that there is a barrier that stops the white ants to enter your building, for instance if your house is a high-set house on stumps, check that at the top of the stumps there is a metallic ant capping; this metallic ant capping is usually a large galvanized round dish or square of metal and it is bent down at the edges so that any crawling insect will find it difficult to enter your house that way; we hope you can see the picture? The ant capping prevents also the white ants to enter through the timber stump itself, if the stump has been infested with white ants, because when they reach the top of the stump they cannot eat through the metal capping and so they cannot enter that way, of course there are a lot of different buildings and a lot of different ways to set a barrier; but sometimes the white ants find their way around.
Now there are ways that we should be looking for if there are white ants; here the first thing that we have to keep in mind is that white ants eat everything from inside and they don’t like to be exposed outside for long, so, the first thing one can do is to tap on anything that is made of wood; if the wood sounds hollow then the white ants may have eaten the inside, so, a complete check is needed to see what is the cause; another way to look for white ants signs is that if they are forced to go outside to move from one place to another, they will construct a tunnel, so that they can go up and down without being seen, so, we must look for any of these signs anywhere under the building. Experts have told me that the white ants need moisture, so, they have to travel to the ground to get the moisture and then they go up again their tunnel to eat the timber; now if the building is solid and there is no other way for the ants to go up they will construct their tunnel from the ground up, so, we should be looking for signs to see if there are ants tunnel constructed, and if there are tunnels, it means that there are white ants, therefore you need a pest control expert to poison these pests, and you need him fast.
Some natural enemies of the white ants
White ants have very few enemies because they live and hide inside the timber, but there are some natural enemies in their natural habitat, a couple of which are pictured here. As I said before, we need to learn the signs how to spot the white ants, then do something if you find that they are there, otherwise they could eat your house away quickly.
Hereunder we have pasted two links about termites that Huber’s have written for you to check them out.
Good luck to all timber house owners.
Dear readers, my intention here is that I am going to write several articles about houses, how to own them, how to maintain them and how to build them, because that is what I have done during my life. But first, let us talk about Australia and ask; is Australia the land of opportunities? Where I will be talking about the opportunities that I had in the house building industry. So, see you in our next article.
Links to some Australian sites and others
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- DIY brickwork
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- WHITE-ANTS in AUSTRALIA • Your Pest Control Options
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