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Queenslander renovation that maintains the classic home’s character

Learn to preserve the heritage, grandeur, and quirks of the Queenslander home we all love.
queenslander renovation

Here at Dreamspace, we helped thousands of homeowners renovate Queenslanders across the country. These homeowners found architects and building designers who specialise in Queenslander renovation projects using our project coordination dashboard. So, if you are planning to renovate an old Queenslander home that has been in your family for decades (or that fixer-upper Queenslander you bought from the real estate market), continue reading this blog. We’ll reveal everything you need to know and prepare for your Queenslander renovation project, such as: 

  • the kind of renovation projects you can do with a Queenslander.
  • the common issues homeowners encounter when renovating a Queenslander.
  • the complete process of renovating a Queenslander house
  • tips when renovating this kind of period home, and
  • the costs of renovating a Queenslander house
queenslander renovation
Image credit: Queensland Homes Australia

But first, let’s discuss the charming characteristics of a Queenslander house that you want to preserve when you renovate.

What is a Queenslander house?

First built between the 1840s and 1940s, Queenslander houses were designed to suit the warm, humid, subtropical climate of Queensland and New South Wales. It is a native residential architecture style and is one of Australia’s most important heritage home designs .

The first Queenslander houses were simple timber houses with tin or corrugated iron roofs that were built high up on stumps. As the years passed, Queenslander houses evolved and became more grand and more eccentric but some of its key characteristics stayed the same.

queenslander renovation
Image credits: Ray White Ascot

If you are planning to renovate a Queenslander, consider preserving the house’s classic attributes such as its: 

  • Signature local timber construction – Timber is a lightweight building material that’s easy to use. Source sustainable timber species that’s easily available in your area. 
  • Corrugated metal roofing – Metal roofs (e.g. COLORBOND and ZINCALUME) are lightweight, making them the perfect roof for timber homes. Restore or replace the roof to give your Queenslander a better looking prominent roof.
  • British Colonial style wrap around covered verandah – Restore your Queenslander’s spacious verandah and gain additional space on the front, back, and sides of the house. Use this space to create multiple indoor-outdoor lounge areas that are always protected from sun and rain.
  • Double butterfly staircase – Restore this prominent design feature in front of the house to make the entrance more attractive and dramatic. 
  • Cottage charm – Many renovated Queenslanders nowadays have modern and contemporary interior designs, but nothing beats a laid back country or beachfront cottage designs. 
  • Decorative exterior frills – Queenslanders have highly-embellished porticos, gables, brackets, columns, railings, balustrades, battens, screens, louvres, and fretwork that you can easily restore with the help of local design and build professionals who specialise in renovating Queenslanders.
queenslander renovation

Take advantage of Dreamspace’s project coordination dashboard when you’re looking for local design and build  specialists who can help you renovate a Queenslander. Sign up here to get started.

Popular Queenslander renovation projects

Every Queenslander renovation project is different. Each home has its own issues to address. With proper planning and guidance, you can fix up the entire house and still keep the heritage feel of a Queenslander house.

Here, we specify the various ways homeowners renovate Queenslander homes to give you an idea how to renovate yours. 

queenslander renovation
Avonleigh, built circa 1910

Lifting a Queenslander and building under

The first Queenslander homes are single storey houses on stumps positioned above ground. The area beneath the house gets used as a carport, garden storage, and laundry area. 

Take advantage of the space beneath your house! Consider excavating the ground underneath and raising your Queenslander a bit more to meet the ceiling height requirements, then enclosing the space underneath to create extra space. A renovation strategy like this gives you a new floor, ready for building extra bedrooms, a home office, a rumpus room, a garage, or a place for your ageing parents. Take note that raising a Queenslander and building underneath also requires plumbing and electrical work in addition to the complex structural work such as restumping and laying a foundation

If you are planning a similar reno project, request a free quote here.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: realestate.com.au
queenslander renovation
Image credit: realestate.com.au

Extending a Queenslander house

A ground-level extension is also a feasible way to create more space in a Queenslander home. Many homeowners who bought a Queenslander in the recent years are looking into extending the first floor, then renovating the interiors of the house.

Keep in mind that there might be certain limitations when renovating your Queenslander because it is a a period home. Call your local council to check if the home is in a Character Protection Area or a heritage listed property. Discuss your initial plans with your local council and get recommendations on what you can and can’t do as part of your Queenslander renovation.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: Kieron Gait Architects

Interior home renovation of a Queenslander

Interior renovations are often a part of the two previous projects mentioned, and are also applicable when you just want to modernise the floor plan of a classic Queenslander. 

For instance, a traditional Queenslander is large enough to have four to six bedrooms. An interior home renovation can turn the original floor plan into something that’s more suited to you and your family’s needs. Revamp the interiors to bring it up to modern day standards.

Maximise every square metre in your new floor plan with the help of a designer. You can take down walls to open up spaces, join rooms to make a bigger bedroom, or make room for the amenities and features that you’ve always wanted. Renovate the house’s outdated bathrooms and kitchen as well.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: realestate.com.au

Exterior home renovation and restoration of a Queenslander

A new paint job, re-cladding, roof replacement or restoration, picket fence upgrade, and backyard renovation are some of the most popular exterior upgrades for Queenslander houses. If your Queenslander is listed as a heritage home, almost all exterior renovation and improvement projects are subject to council approval.

If you are interested in upgrading your Queenslander’s exterior design, remember these tips and recommendations: 

  •  The exterior colour you choose depends on the laws set by your local council and residential community. Oftentimes, you are required to use an exterior wall and roof paint colour similar or complementary to the neighbouring houses. White is the most popular choice for Queenslander houses because it is neutral and it highlights the house’s charm and grandeur.
  • Many Queenslander exterior renovations restore the house’s heritage beauty in the front façade, then build an outdoor entertainment area and a pool surrounded by a lush garden at the back. 
  • Typically, a Queenslander property is protected by a timber picket fence. Depending on the local council, putting up a fence around a Queenslander property might require council approval. Local councils are strict with the kind of fence and the colour of the fence that homeowners put up. Your council might ask you to survey the property again to ensure you’ll build the fence exactly on the boundaries. 
queenslander renovation
Image credit: realestate.com.au

Process of renovating a Queenslander

If you are ready to renovate your Queenslander, here is a walkthrough of the process: 

  • Site Survey

    This is when a property land surveyor will survey the property to confirm the boundaries of the property. You will receive a survey report, which is essential to the work of the architect or building designer you chose for your Queenslander renovation project. We have collected the list of most frequently asked questions on the land survey here.

  • Preliminary Design

    This is when your chosen design professional will visit the site to conduct the design consultation and propose design concepts that fulfill your requirements. Your chosen designer will sketch out these concepts so you can visualise them and approve them on the spot. Once approved, your designer will proceed to the drafting of the working drawings. 

    Here at Dreamspace, we also allow our customers to conduct this stage of the design process online. Sign up to Dreamspace and get matched to the best designers and consultants who are experienced in renovating Queenslanders. Use the project dashboard to collaborate with them, especially during this crucial stage in the planning process.

  • Planning and Building approvals/certifications

    This is the stage when you will lodge all the working drawings to your local council to obtain approval. You will also secure a building certificate here, which is the green light to proceed to construction.

  • Build Tender

    This is the time when you will approach multiple builders who specialise in renovating Queenslanders. These builders will quote your project, and you will choose which quote and which builder to entrust the renovation. 

    To make the build tender process easier for you, take advantage of our in-built tender service. Dreamspace will help you select the right builder at the right price. This service will help you finish your renovation project on time and on budget.

    After choosing your builder, they will proceed to construction. 

    We are happy to provide you with a detailed quote for design and build cost estimations. Get a free quote here.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: realestate.com.au

Common Queenslander renovation issues

Not all Queenslander renovation projects are the same. Heritage homes have been around for a long time; these houses often have a lot of issues that you need to fix. Here are some of those issues, based on our experience: 

Creating indoor and outdoor spaces

Modern homes boast their beautiful open plan and indoor-outdoor spaces. With proper planning and design, even period homes on stilts can have these. When possible, re-stump the house and raise the Queenslander so you can begin a ground-level extension. Use the space to create a seamless indoor-outdoor connection you’ve always wanted.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: Dion Seminara Architecture

Raising the ceiling height of the new first floor

Another concern of homeowners converting the space underneath a Queenslander is the ceiling height of the new ground floor. According to Building Code of Australia Vol. 2 Part 3.8.2, the ceiling height of all habitable rooms and areas must not be less than 2.4 metres. For kitchens and laundry rooms, the ceiling height must not be lower than 2.1 metres. The space must meet the legal ceiling height measurements before you convert the lower floor into a livable space. 

When it’s not possible to raise the ceiling at an ideal height, you can still enclose the space and convert it into a garage, carport, or secured storage space.

Insulation 

Queenslanders, especially the really old ones, might need a new layer of insulation to replace the old one. Book a professional to check the current condition of your insulation and find all the possible leaks. A full rehabilitation of your Queenslander’s insulation will dramatically reduce the costs of running your own home.

queenslander renovation
Image credit: Synergy Building Design

Daylighting

Underlit rooms at the center of the house is one issue of huge Queenslander homes. Brighten up these rooms when you introduce larger windows in your renovated Queenslander design and install skylights where it is needed. You can also take down a few interior walls to open up the space, then repaint the walls with a lighter colour.

When renovating and restoring period homes like Queenslanders, always try to return the home exteriors to their former glory and enhance the home interiors to suit a more modern and laid-back lifestyle. 

Costs to renovate a Queenslander

So, how much does it cost to renovate a Queenslander?

It depends on the project. 

It is best to reach out to professionals and ask them to quote your project. Obtaining quotes will give you an idea on the total construction costs. 

To avoid renovation budget blowouts, design based on your budget and set aside contingency funds for unexpected costs. 

queenslander renovation
Image credit: Alicia Taylor Photography

Launch your Queenslander renovation and restoration with Dreamspace

Your Queenslander renovation project will run smoothly with the help of design and construction professionals who are experts in transforming your traditional character home into a modern masterpiece.

For your Queenslander renovation project, make sure you use the project coordination platform by Dreamspace. Using a single dashboard, Dreamspace makes it super easy for you to: 

  • Plan your overall home improvement project
  • Get free quotes for your project
  • Get inspiration and ideas from thousands of designs in our Inspiration Gallery
  • Keep track of the progress of your home reno project
  • Stay connected with professionals who specialise in almost all kinds of renovations
  • Manage your project from designing to building

Sign up for your free account and start your project in no time!

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