Australia wood houses 4

Australia wooden houses

Welcome to my hub, Australia wooden houses in Brisbane

This house is called a worker cottage, it is a smaller and cheaper version of the Queenslander, they were built to house the worker, as they could not afford to buy the larger and more expansive houses. 

The convenient pretty wooden houses in Brisbane and Australia; when we came to Australia in the early sixties, we found that the houses here were made of timber, which were very different from the houses we had left in Europe.  
For us Italian migrants that had lived all our lives in solid masonry buildings, when we arrived in Australia at the beginning it seemed a strange thing that in Brisbane lots of houses were made of wood and most of them were set on wooden stumps, but then we started thinking that after all they were still good to live in anyhow, so, we got used to live on them rather quickly.
So, we had to forget about how we used to live in our motherland and also my native town of Genzano di Lucania since we were living now in Australia the Australian way, after all as the saying goes, when you are in Rome do what the Romans do, and we did that; but then, what were the reasons and why these houses were made of wood, or to use another word for wood how the locals called it here, they were made of timber.
So as you can see, this question arises, why these houses were made of timber and not masonry? And then try to see if they were better or worse that the houses made of bricks or masonry. If we use logic reasoning there is no difference whether houses are made of timber or masonry, as long as they are able to give the people that live in them that filling of safety and privacy that we aspect from them, when we live in our own home.
Having said that now let us see or guess the reasons why these houses were made of timber, and why they were set on wooden stumps.


Wooden houses on stumps

The wooden houses on stumps of Brisbane and/or Australia
A large Queen-slander, note the pretty design, all the open space on the verandas and also all the open space under the house, which could be used in very hot summer days to catch the breeze and stay in the shade.

As I have already said above in Brisbane a lot of houses are/were made of timber, but not only are they made of timber, they are set on wooden stumps. So let us see the reasons why they were made this way.
From what explanations we have heard, and also by using our own imagination and intelligence one can come to the conclusion that there were several reasons why houses here were made of timber. The first reason is that when the first settlers started to build Brisbane, there were plenty of trees that could be cut down and make very good timber to build those houses; and then the people that came to live in Brisbane and Australia had a very good knowledge of how to use timber, since they came by boats and in the boats of those days, there were always carpenters and carpenter tools on board, so to build timber houses was the easiest way for them, since they had the knowledge the tools and plenty of timber in the woods surrounding Brisbane.
At the beginning the houses were just simple shelters, but as the time went by they became better and better, because the builders also became aware that here around Brisbane and northward when the wet season comes the ground becomes too wet for the houses to stand on the ground, in hot summer days everything becomes too hot and there were lots of vermin on the ground, so they found a way how to build houses that would avoid most of these problems; that is why in those times the houses on stumps became a necessity, of course slowly they became even better and even pretty, that is how the Queenslander house was born, which is a large house with verandas around them that keeps the weather and the hot sun off the main walls of the house. One can see these pretty Queensland houses if you look around even today.

The Queenslander houses

The Queenslander House

Some fret works that can be found in and outside those old houses

Some fret works inside the houses, this design is more likely to be found on the cheaper version on these timber houses.

The Queenslander house is a large timber house; some of them are pretty too and they serve the inhabitant very well, as they have been built to take the advantage of the hot climate in Brisbane and north Queensland regions. Now since I have been working in these houses to maintain them, let me describe them to you a bit more in details. As anyone can guess there are a few different types of these houses, but here to make it easier we are talking about the large real Queenslander and the workers cottage, which is a small and cheaper version of the real Queenslander. 
As I have already said above in this hub, when the first settlers arrived here, there were plenty of trees around to make timber, a lot of this timber is called hardwood, which as the name suggests is hard and very strong, some of this timber are even stronger and longer lasting than the European oak or other strong European woods. So the houses were strong and secure, the only natural real enemy of these houses were the white ants (termites), which are able to eat through the wood and destroy the houses. The termites are native to Australia and if one goes up north in Australia one could see strange ground made mounts of earth springing up from the ground, these is how the white ants live, they eat wood from the inside and they make these mounts of earth.
So as you can see this was another reason why the houses were built on stumps. The stumps were made of whole sections of trees that are very resistant to rot; of course the white ants could still be able to eat those stumps, but they were treated with some paints and at the top they all had a capping of metal that would make a barrier to the white ants if they came from the inside the stump and also a barrier to the other ants or crawling insect from the outside.
We have to say that some of these timber houses have been made also pretty, because timber can be cut to different shapes easily, so they were somehow pretty compared to the house made of masonry, which would be very expensive to decorate them with masonry, so the houses are usually square boxes with a roof at the top.
Decorative fretwork was easy to make with timber and a lot of these houses had some decorations, in them in one way or the other. Now I can go on and on telling you how these houses were made, but that would be hard to do, so I am going to search the Internet for photos that could show you what I mean, about fretwork and other timber names, anyhow there are a lot of names given to these pieces of timber that would be hard for me to name and for the readers to understand what is meant by that particular name. So I am going to leave it to your imagination, once you see some photos of the houses and the fretwork in them.
Wooden houses care
Just as most of us thought, these wooden houses need some maintenance and care
White ants can easily destroy an entire building, see what has happened to this one, they have eaten all the wood inside and now the whole lot is collapsing

Termite nests in the bush of north Queensland, they are strange little creature the white ants, they seem to work always from the inside, except for the worker that sometimes goes out to deposit the soil, and so the white ant mount grows

These is how the white ants (termite) look like, they seem so soft and vulnerable that at first sight one would think that they cannot do any damage to anything, that is until one can see what they can do to wooden structures.

For those people that have not own or lived in timber houses before they should ask some questions, before they get involved in owning one of these houses; perhaps the first question that would come to their mind is: are these houses safe to live in and how long these houses can last? And then, what sort of maintenance they require? You see, they have a right to know that, so let me try to explain this timber housing situation.
Timber houses need perhaps more maintenance that masonry houses; because first of all you need to paint them for the timber to last longer, otherwise the timber on the outside walls will slowly rot away, but then, there are also some advantages because, you see if you want to change something it can be done easily a lot easier and cheaper than if you have a masonry house, therefore, it is a lot cheaper also to do some alterations, so it can work well after all.
Having said that I need also to say that these wooden houses have some problems of their own, apart that they need to be painted for the external timber to last longer, they also have some vermin enemies everywhere in the houses, because the timber is more vermin friendly than masonry and bricks and cement, but the normal vermin are not a big problem for the house structure itself.
The greatest enemy of these wooden houses are the termites, or white ants as some of us calls them; The white ants can really destroy entire buildings by eating the wood from the inside, a lot of times people don’t even know that the white ants are there eating their houses away while they are living in them; you see, unless you know what you are looking for it is hard to see any sign of them from the outside. So one day suddenly one can find out by toughing or putting some pressure on a spot where the white ants have eaten the wood from inside, and one can have a great shock to see this happen, as everything starts collapsing inward and where there was a wall now there is a big hole.
Therefore, it would be worthwhile to learn how to recognize the signs if there are white ants; and definitely call an expert to check the building if you are going to buy it.
How to defend our homes from these pests
The white ant problem
How to defend our homes from these pests 
 Note the ant capping's placed on all wooden stumps to prevent crawling insect and white ants to enter the building from the ground.
 White ants are strange creatures and have few enemies, but in their natural habitat there are some enemies that eats them and this strange animal the Scaly ant eater is one of them

Also this other strange animal the Echidna are ant eaters. 

There are a few things that we can do to prevent this pest destroy our homes; the first thing that one has to do is to check that there is a barrier that stops the white ants to enter your building, for instance if your house is a high-set house on stumps, check that at the top of the stumps there is a metallic ant capping; this metallic ant capping is usually a large galvanized round dish or square of metal and it is bent down at the edges so that any crawling insect is not able to enter your house that way; can you see the picture? The ant capping prevents also the white ants to enter through the stump itself, if the stump has been infested with white ants, because when they reach the top of the stump they cannot eat through the metal capping and so they are stopped entering that way, of course there are a lot of different buildings and a lot of different ways to set a barrier. There is also the pest control way that poisons these pests, but that needs to be done by an expert.
Some natural enemies of the white ants
White ants have very few enemies because they live and hide inside the timber, but there are some natural enemies of course in their natural habitat, a couple of which are pictured here. As I said before, one needs to learn the signs how to spot the white ants presence, and do something if you find that they are there, otherwise they could eat way your house away.
Good luck to all houses owner! See you soon in another hub.

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