The iconic Queenslander in danger
THE iconic Queenslander home is in danger of becoming extinct as buyers battling rising building costs opt for lower-maintenance versions of the real thing.
While our love affair with the traditional style of home is still strong, the state's namesake is slowly being replaced by replicas of the original.
Housing history researcher Magnus Eriksson, who tracks the histories of houses across southeast Queensland, said quintessential Queenslanders were a dying breed.
"If WWF (World Wildlife Fund) was doing a survey, they'd probably put it on the most threatened list," Mr Eriksson told The Sunday Mail.
"I would certainly say they're disappearing and not being replaced."
Mr Eriksson said true Queenslander homes were characterised as having a lightweight timber construction, a corrugated metal roof and a highset frame.
The original style was developed around the 1800s and began to change in the 1930s.
"That highset style started disappearing and more of a modern style came in," he said.
"There are a few replicas going up, but there's not too many of them.
"Only a few are built in the true form.
"The new ones may look the same but they're not the same as a handmade original Queenslander."
Australian Institute of Architects' Queensland executive director Melissa Greenall said the industry had noticed a decline in demand for the Queenslander as a preferred newbuild style.
"Modern families are exhibiting a preference for more modern styles, brick built with modern conveniences such as open plan living, ducted airconditioning and internal entertainment spaces such as media rooms," she said.
"Sadly, it appears that the Queenslander is losing its popularity in Queensland."
With the cost of building in the state climbing at the fastest rate in Australia, building, renovating and maintaining an original Queenslander home has also become more expensive.
Economist Michael Matusik recently published research which showed construction costs have risen by five per cent over the past year alone - the highest rise of anywhere in the country.
But buyers are prepared to pay a premium for a good quality replica with all the charm of an original, but without the upkeep.
A newly built Queenslander in Kedron recently broke the sale price record for the suburb after selling for $1.65 million under the hammer.
The auction of the five-bedroom home with a pool at 59 Thirteenth Avenue attracted a huge crowd and 14 registered bidders.
Selling agent Matthew Jabs of Place Newmarket said about 70 per cent of clients he dealt with were looking for a traditional Queenslander style home compared to a modern style, but it often depended on the location.
He said the quality of the build and finishes was a key factor and not all replicas were of the same standard.
"The proper, traditional ones are harder to build because they require more technique and craftsmanship," Mr Jabs said.
"They also cost more to build so a lot of builders won't do it."
The former owners of the Kedron property, Belinda and Trent Ramke, of Ramear Investments, specialise in building high quality replicas of Queenslander homes.
Mrs Ramke said she found people were prepared to pay more for a high quality replica of a traditional style Queenslander than a contemporary style newbuild.
"The traditional houses are a bit more expensive to build because you're putting more into them," she said.
"There's a lot of extra money in the carpentry."
But she said the cost of a high quality Queenslander renovation could often be more expensive than a newbuild.
"That's what we've found in our research," she said.
And there are no "hidden surprises" in a newbuild.
"With a renovation, there could be anything behind those walls."
Samantha and Malcolm Hall have just sold their replica Queenslander at 10 Lindsay St, Hawthorne for $1.164 million.
"I lived in actual Queenslanders through my university years and they look so lovely from the outside, but when you actually live in them, they're draughty and hard to clean," she said.
"A newbuild replica doesn't have all those issues. It still has the character feel, but without the hassle."
Selling agent Gunther Behrendt of Ray White Bulimba said traditional Queenslander home styles were still sought-after.
"If they capture the character correctly in a replica, they're definitely in higher demand," he said.
"They're a better built home and a lot of people like the lower maintenance of a replica."
The original Queenslanders that do still exist are in high demand, as proven earlier this month when a Federation Queenslander built in 1912 fetched $4 million at auction.
The historic three-bedroom home at 77 Mowbray Tce, East Brisbane, attracted 30 registered bidders.
WHAT MAKES A TRUE QUEENSLANDER?
*Corrugated iron roof
*Raised up from the ground
*Internal walls made from VJ boards
*External walls clad in weatherboards
*Timber framed windows