Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life on Stumps

Dan picked me up a copy of this book while sourcing new sash windows at the Woodworkers in Brisbane yesterday (More on our new windows soon).

Every time I see a copy of this book,I think the same thing: with all the beautiful alternatives, why did they put a picture of wonky lattice on the front?

I think this particular book is widely regarded as the go-to for people renovating Queenslanders, although I don't think it has much competition. Also, as I ranted on Instagram, I can't stand that they put a wonky piece of lattice on the front cover. Could they really not find better source material?

The information on the history of the 'Queenslander' house is fantastic but the book does start to get a bit preachy when discussing paint schemes and what you should and shouldn't do. I don't really agree with recycling heritage paint schemes, to be honest. I love the intricate details of an old home but mission brown and heritage green I can live without.

One of the things I loved ( I read most of the book last night) was the chapter about why Queensland houses started to be built on stumps to begin with.

Now, just in case anyone who is uninitiated with the style of housing comes across this post, a typical 'Queenslander' home is built on stumps - either just a couple of feet off the ground, or in the case of our house (Big House), about two metres off the ground.

Little House is also on stumps, although hers are only a couple of feet.

This book attributes the main reason they started being built this way as termite protection, but then also discusses the side benefits to lofty houses that people discovered once they'd started building them this way - better ventilation, protection from vermin, protection from floods and an ambiguous 'feeling of security'.

I completely agree with all of it. I really like living in a highset house. I love that we can get under the floor of our home and see its foundations and how strong they are. I love that we can store our mower and quad bike under the house so they don't take up room in the shed. I love that when it rains and rains and rains, as it does in Queensland, I know it's just going to pass under our floor.

I like knowing that no deadly snakes can find their way up the two metres of stump we sit on (tree snakes and pythons are another story, of course - they can climb but are not venomous).

But above all, the feeling of security described in the book rings true. I love knowing that no one can ever peer in my bedroom window. There's a certain feeling of loftiness in a highset house, like you could just roll up your drawbridge one day and tell the world to back off and leave you be.

I like that.

What do you love about your house that might be a little unexpected? 


  1. Very interesting! Learning the history of an area or style is inspiring and enlightening :)

    I love that feeling of security - we are the only ones on our little dead-end road, so there is typically no public traffic anywhere near the house.

    My unexpected favourite part about our house is that since it is owner built, I am less hesitant to fix things. We've been fiddling with the tin roof for the past three days, and any holes we found (or created - oops!) can be filled with roofing tar without much guilt - if it's not proper to begin with, then it's less terrible if we screw up a little bit. Which is good: it's our first house, and while I have a bit of experience (from helping my parents with their house) I am by no means a roofing/drywalling/painting/door un-jamming expert, so there are bound to be little screwups.-

  2. Can't say for sure having not actually ever lived in it, however one thing that I do love about it is that it is not directly opposite Coronation Drive and there will be no-one living either above or below us that fill the house with noise or cigarette/bbq smoke! xx

  3. My understanding on stumps was that if you have access to suitable stump making material, they were the cheapest way to build a house on a non-level site. But I guess if you use termite resistant wood, and cap the stumps, then you can build the rest of the house out of stuff termites love.

  4. Woodworkers...gotcha! I love being high set too especially for the storage underneath but we are just inches shy of legal height which means in order to build in we have to lift and that is just not worth the hassle.