My first house

10 04 2022

This was not the first house I purchased, but the first I ever lived in! I’ve recently been in touch with someone from the historical society for the Western Australian country town where I spent my life from birth to the day I turned 13, and she just happens to work for the local Shire and has access to old building plans. And she found these plans of the first house I lived in (until I was about 7 years old), which was commissioned by my grandfather to be built for my parents just before they got married.

These were certainly simpler times, as evidenced by the degree of ‘detail’ in the plans (just the 2 pages to get approval to build!) and the design of the house—a simple 4-room house. The price of 2000 pounds (equivalent to $4000) seems ridiculously low, but for the time it was a lot. However, using an online inflation calculator (https://www.inflationtool.com/australian-dollar/), that $4000 is equivalent to around $80,000 today, a vast difference to the cost of building a house in Western Australia today. That said, today’s houses have a LOT of bells and whistles—and rooms—and this one certainly didn’t.

Take a look at the materials used in the building—compressed asbestos board was used for the inner and outer walls of the timber-framed house! And according to Mum, lino was the floor covering of choice for the kitchen and later the living room. Lino in those days was full of asbestos too. Mum remembers the other floor coverings in the house too:

    • Kitchen – lino on the floor (more asbestos!)
    • Lounge room – wooden floors until my sister and I started crawling, then cheap lino; no furniture in this room bar a radiogram and my other nana’s treadle sewing machine, which mum would put the playpen over when she’d finished using it to stop us from crawling into the mechanism!; the fire surround was brick (likely red brick)
    • Main bedroom (front of the house) – Feltex carpet (very cheap)
    • Our bedroom – they think it was a wooden floor (and by wooden, probably not polished boards, but plain wood, perhaps oiled)
    • Bathroom – they couldn’t remember, but likely concrete
    • Laundry – red concrete; copper in the corner (the round thing in the laundry); back steps – no handrails
    • Front verandah – red concrete.

 

The same house after it was built and after I was born—I believe that’s me in the pram on the front verandah, so I was likely less than 12 months’ old, just a tad younger than the house.


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