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A secondhand house for Cheslyn Rise

After living in an old Queenslander in the Lockyer Valley for several years before moving to Nanango, Pete and I were convinced that we never wanted to own another one.  They are beautiful, but a lot of work to maintain and sometimes have a very odd layout.  The house that we lived in was raised up to allow storage under the house, and with 8ft ceilings, it was very difficult to reach all of the external walls to paint them.  It also had the toilet located off the porch as you came in the back door, which wasn’t very nice on cold nights!

We were also sure that we didn’t want a cheap modern house.  Our house at Nanango is made of a product called “hardiplank”, which is fibre cement sheeting moulded to look like wood weatherboards.  It doesn’t look like wood weatherboards, it looks like moulded cement sheeting (I have heard that you can get a nicer version of this, but ours seems to be the cheapest option).  The inside has been fitted out very cheaply with just plasterboard walls and tile flooring, with a raked ceiling.  Every time we want to hang a picture we miss the “VJs” (vertical join) boards in the Queenslander, you can hang a picture anywhere on the wall without worrying what’s behind the plasterboard!  When I go into other modern houses I notice how low the ceilings are, at least ours is raked, so it doesn’t seem so bad, but I miss the high ceilings in the Queenslander.

We were planning to build a new house, but when we looked at the options, we really couldn't decide anything, from cladding to internal walls, nothing seemed to suit us, being that we wanted quality, it seemed like we would be saving for years to afford what we wanted.  Actually we were leaning towards rammed earth construction….. and then we found a second-hand house.  We weren’t really looking for one, but Pete loves his, and was checking out houses and land in our area when he found a small Queenslander for removal, only 15 km from Cheslyn Rise.  We looked at the photos online, and then we went for a visit in person, and of course we couldn’t resist a sweet little Queenslander, so we made an offer and now its ours for removal.  Its not totally finalised, we are still making all the arrangements, I wouldn't normally tell you about it until it was definite, but its getting difficult NOT to tell you because I want to write a post about houses!

Our second hand house, ready to move....
When I called the council to ask about the removal process, the lady asked me if it was a second-hand house.  I hadn’t thought about it like that before, but I suppose it is second-hand.  It feels good to recycle it, we could never afford to fit out a new house with VJs, but this way we get the walls we want, and no fibre cement cladding!  The best part was when we talked to our neighbour and it turned out that his mother grew up in that house, so I’m glad that we could keep it in the general area. 
While it initially seemed like a cheap option, and I hope it will still end up being cheaper and quicker than our well-built new house, its probably not much different to buying a new relocatable or cheaply built hardiplank or brick house.  I wouldn’t normally go into details of the cost, but as we have gone along, there have been a number of small unexpected costs, just because we didn’t know the process very well, and I thought by listing some rough figures here, it may help others to plan their house removal project.  Please remember that these are estimates only based on our experiences and your own costs may be very different.

The house itself only cost us $10,000.  Removal 15km and restumping is just under $40,000.  Those are the two major costs, but there are quite a few other small unexpected costs involved in getting the building approved for removal from the site and then approved on the new site.  These will depend on the council at each end of the move, but to give you an idea of what to look for:
  • Soil test and wastewater plan– about $1000 (depends also on travel to site, most are in metro areas)
  • Council bond - $17000 until the building is 'sound'
  • Council fees – nearly $1000
  • Drawings of the building – about $1500
  • Engineering drawings and energy efficiency – about $500
  • Certification – at least $2000
  • Plumber to disconnect at site - ?
  • Engineer’s inspection – about $1000
  • Owner builder permit – about $150 (even if you aren’t actually planning on doing anything to the house yourself, its best to just get an owner builder permit, as you will be coordinating all the contractors.  Any work over $11000 requires a permit, unless you have a “lead contractor” with a BSA licence) - and then $340 for the actually permit!  You also need to do the White Card construction induction course (I already had that one at least). 
Its surprising how quickly this adds up and makes a $10000 house more like a $70000 house and that’s before you do the rest of the work on the new site.  In order to get the final building approval, the following may be required, depending on the council and the state of the house:
  • Septic and plumbing connection
  • Re-wiring (even if this wiring is ok, this is an opportunity to put power points and switches where you want them, most Queenslanders were built prior to electricity, so the wiring done later can be quite odd).
  • Water tanks
  • Energy efficiency requirements (eg insulation, solar hot water)
  • Owner builder insurance
  • In some areas you have to also replace the roof sheeting
This is our project so far, and I can’t wait for it to all be over and I can show you the finished house ready for us to move in!  We’ve only had the contract for a few weeks and all the work to find out what needs to be done and engaging contractors has been crazy, but often with this kind of thing, if we don’t just jump in and start something we would still have been procrastinating over the type of house we wanted J
If anyone has any removal house or general building tips to share, please go ahead….  So what do you think of our second-hand house?


  1. I think its lovely and has character. I live in a new build and it has been so hard to give it life and that comfortable lived in feeling. I'd love a big old farm home like i grew up in but id need a farm for that and i dont have 6 kids to accommodate. Good luck with the moving and keep an eye on those costs. I hope someone with experience jumps in with a wealth of hints and tips.

  2. It's in good nick for a second-hand house, and $10,000 is a good price.

    We did a lot of research when we were considering building on our property, and then basically got impatient and went with a new build. Many of the mounting costs for removal homes, and owner-building, seemed quite daunting for us. We had no experience.

    After having a new house though, I would say they are cheaper and more efficient to build, but they are not the same quality you get over the lifetime of the dwelling. Had we not been so daunted by the costs, our lack of experience and a growing toddler, I would have liked to have considered the other options.

    I think you will find that your final build cost will probably exceed that of a new dwelling. But what you will get is a building that will last another 100 years or so, and also handle the hard knocks it will receive with the nature of the work you do.

    What I find in new dwellings with neat, clean, plasterboard interiors, is you can't knock the walls. We have chips and nicks in our front entry. We've lived in Queenslanders, on the other hand, which seemed to age more beautifully the more dings it got in the hardwood walls.

    Ultimately, I think you made the better choice in terms of quality, but the price will probably rise more than you'll want it to. But there's an infamous saying both my husband and I love, "the quality is remembered, long after the price is forgotten." It's so true!

    I would also recommend you do a lot of research on septic systems. We got the one Council always passes, which basically runs 24/7. It costs a lot in electricity consumption over the lifetime of the product. There are quite a few septic systems however, which aim to lower the electricity consumption. I'm not talking worm farm septics, they just design the mechanics of it better, so it runs a third of the time.

    Also, if you can (I don't know the lay of your land) place your rainwater tanks on a hill above the house. We have a neighbour who did this, and they never consume electricity when they switch on a tap - they also have running water when the rest of the streets power is out.

    I would also consider concrete water tanks. The plastic ones seem cheaper and easier to move at first, but then you have issues with water quality to consider. The light can never enter a concrete tank to form algae, so you don't really need 'filters' on the outside pump or the sink inside. It also gives a little hardness to the water, that pure rainwater lacks.

    Concrete tanks also stand up to heat in a bushfire better than a plastic one.

    Anyway, good luck with your build!

  3. I am so excited for you! What a bargain and how much do councils rip us all off for not really doing anything! Sigh... at least when you are finished you will get exactly what you want and well built at that :). I am really looking forward to reading blog posts all about it in the future :) Cheers for sharing it all with us, you must have been almost bursting to tell us :)

  4. Looks great Liz and even though there are the necessary evils of paper work and beaurocracy to deal with, it is easy to see you are excited.
    Wishing you all the best for the big house move.

  5. All the best for the new house. I'm sure you and Pete will make the place comfortable and homey in no time. Wow - councils no how to charge for doing nothing don't they!!?

  6. I see moving house is quite differnt in Oz. Ours are mostly brick so you'd never be able to move them and even if you could the council would never let you!

  7. Wow you got it after all!!!!! Congratulations

  8. I love the wrap around porch and the look of this house, what a great house for your farm. I hate it the way local governments hit you with such high fees. The state of Illinois were we live now are horrible with the fees and taxes when you buy a house. That is the big reason we bought our farm in Iowa for the lower taxes.

  9. that is great for you to publish all the costs - so many times people think - Oh a house for 10,000 and don't think of the other costs involved. As usual, all the permits and inspections etc, seem excessive, but maybe that is just me....

  10. We have lived in a new brick house and an old timber farmhouse and just love our timber farmhouse, lots of character, particularly as I like shabby chic style furnishing. Our home is around 100 years old and needed electrical, plumbing, new windows and doors and carpentry works plus made the verandah 8ft. wide. We had licensed tradesmen for all work but the plumber didn't connect the new plastic tank with a bendy hose and the tank developed a leak. We bought another tank and this one we positioned on a hill above the house - brilliant. No more pumps kicking in and out, we just pump water up around once a month. The work was around $70,000 and we had owner/builder arrangements with our builder and paid him in $10k lots. Your house looks lovely. Joy

  11. Just remembered from my mum's venture moving a house - you should get some of the Council bond back (the $17,000) once your build reaches Council's final approval to occupy.

    Not sure if they're changed their procedures, but from my mum's experience, they required the bond in case people didn't finish the build and Council had to remove it/sell it, etc. Or something along those lines.

    You still have to come up with the money up-front though.

  12. Oh, how exciting! I've always wanted to relocate a house. It's just always looked like fun and you get so much character. What's with hubby's and My hubby looks at it all the time and we only moved into our new house 3 weeks ago! Looking forward to hearing how it all goes.

  13. Looking forward to following the process of moving your home.

    Its real interesting to see the costs to date.

    Hope the big move goes well.

  14. Your banner photo is stunning! Love your blog!

  15. thanks everyone, we are currently stalled due to the latest weather (constant rain), which has been fantastic for making the grass grow, but has also made the road to our property nearly impassable except by 4WD. We will get there eventually, there is plenty of paperwork to keep us busy in the meantime!

  16. Interesting Article i found here.Thanks for share.


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