Workers’ cottages in Brisbane are being turned into masterpieces
Tin and timber chic
Creative young professionals are making their mark on Brisbane’s traditional workers’ cottages, turning the once humble tin and timber properties into architectural masterpieces.
The trend has proved popular with cashed-up buyers, who are converging on the unique and chic homes, helping to underpin the city’s housing market in the process.
Brisbane born and bred video content creator Ant McCormack and his architect wife Melina Hobday spent a long time looking for just the right rundown cottage to renovate, eventually settling on an 1880s home at 17 Hove Street, Highgate Hill.
The couple spent four years living in the home “to understand where all the best aspects of the house were” and how they could be improved, McCormack says.
“A big thing for us was retaining the original house and as much material as possible,” he says.
“We were lucky enough to find the original VJ walls hidden behind cladding and we worked very hard on the original floors to bring them back to life.”
The 12-month build included underpinning the original 1880sb uilt brick chimney, which was constructed straight on to dirt and required major structural engineering.
Beyond the cottage facade and veranda at the front is a contemporary two-storey home with an open-plan living area on the ground floor, connecting with the terrace and garden.
Maximising its northerly orientation, a double-height void over the kitchen and glass doors fills the rear of the house with natural light.
Ray White South Brisbane principal Luke Croft, who took the property to auction recently, says more than double the usual number of groups came through the home’s first inspection.
It is now for sale and Croft is negotiating with a couple of parties including Sydney buyers and is looking for $950,000-plus. “The attractive thing with that property is it is on a smaller lot, but the way the owners have maximised the space, it doesn’t feel like you’re on a small lot,” he says.
“Older homes have character and they’ve turned something that was in very average condition into something with the wow factor.
“There’s a blend of old and new, with an industrial, warehouse feel to it.”
Numerous planning overlays can add to the cost and complexity of such conversions, McCormack says, noting that the renovation of a rundown worker’s cottage “wasn’t for everyone”.
Croft agreed that the time, energy and cost of renovating often made completed projects all the more attractive for young couples and families.
“Even though Sydney and Melbourne have been seeing a drop in prices, we’re receiving more inquiries than ever including from Sydney and Melbourne,” he says.
An architecturally renovated former worker’s cottage at 35 Cochrane Street, Paddington sold for $2.7 million before its first open early last month.
Urbane Property Agents principal Daniel Argent says it was the highest price paid in 2018 for a Paddington home on a block less than 500sq m.
“That really depicts just how in demand these kinds of properties are and how much people will pay for them,” Argent says.
Its single-storey weatherboard facade and white picket fence belie the ultra-modern and luxurious three-storey transformation beyond.
Completed by KO & Co Architecture’s Karen Ognibene, the home blends new and original timbers across customised cabinetry and polished concrete floors offset white VJ walls.
“It’s the character people are after,” Argent says.
“Architects and owners are finding really creative ways to capitalise on that.
“By developing a property they can keep the character, work with the materials and add a flare to it as well.”
The Real Estate Institute of Queensland Market Monitor Report, released in November, listed 68 suburbs across the state that had recorded double-digit price growth in the 12 months to June.
While the Sydney and Melbourne housing market are suffering a slowdown, institute chief executive Antonia Mercorella says many markets in Queensland are performing exceptionally well.
Paddington is one of the state’s top performers.
It has retained its position as one of Brisbane’s most expensive suburbs with a median house price of $1.15m, up 14.5 per cent on the past year.
Top tin sheds in Brisbane’s Highgate Hill and Paddington