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

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