Architecture in Australia

Design

Due to the warm temperatures throughout the year, Australian architecture doesn`t have to care so much about thermal insulation although it would help to keep the heat out during the day and reduce electricity costs for the air conditioner system. The same applies for the single glazing. Double glazing would help a lot but as long as the Aussies keep their windows open day and night it doesn`t matter. The architecture itself consists of many different styles and it is not uncommon to see a Mediterranean style house next to a traditional  Queenslander (short explanation by Wikipedia what this means: vernacular architecture is a category of architecture based on localized needs and construction materials, and reflecting local traditions…in this case it is about the local traditions of Queensland), next to a mix of styles, a modern kind of eclecticism: you put on the facade what ever you like! Sometimes it is obvious that the architect just tried to make it look upper class not aware about the use or uselessness of it. Most of the time Australian houses look pretty on first sight and if you look closer you will see how simple things are made. Aussies are much more relaxed and will not worry if something looks a bit improvised and self made. In Germany I was so used that there are always special products for every purpose, certified with DIN norms you are obliged to follow in order to get an approval later on by authorities or a consultant.

Safety and Security Standards

Let`s face it…they don`t exist! Maybe in theory but my experience is that people even if they have some security fences or special locks…they don`t use them. The bathroom door of my former flat in Berlin has a higher security standard than most of the front doors I have seen here. The button of the front door of my home in Elanora is lose and I am expecting it to remain in my hand every time I grab it to open the door. The same applies for windows. Everything looks like it is done self-made rather than by a professional. The advantage is that in case there is a problem you can fix it by yourself with some basic tools. Whilst in Germany our customers spend a lot of additional money for more protection procedures, the Australians argue that that there isn’t much which could be stolen so it is not so important to increase the security level! The “neighborhood is watching concept” is more common than in Germany and my subjective feeling of safety in Australia is higher than in Berlin.

Sanitary Installation

The gallery photos speak for themselves. No insulation, no emphasis on durability and noise cancellation efforts.

Foundation

Many houses are not built on a base of concrete but on piles of concrete or wood. They use the first floor as carport, laundry, gym or keep it clear and live on the second floor. “My” house in Indooroopilly had a flooring of about 2-3 cm height and below was nothing than air and some wooden baulks.That should help to balance the humidity level in the house but I have seen mold everywhere in this so I am not convinced by that. Furthermore all kind of bugs, insects and other creatures can easily infiltrate your home…which is always the case: very common are sugar ants forming long streets across walls or the ceiling, lizards, spiders and a big variety of bugs.

Electric Installation

The plugs have regularly switches right above the plug holes – one exception for a higher standard than in Germany where you would have to pay  extra for that or have to afford a special plug extension with a switch. Sometimes the planning where to install the plugs and other connections in the house is ridiculously bad. At my current place we have the plug for the dsl modem in a height of about 150cm height. To have a cable there to hang down the wall looks weird. It is getting worse: there is no power plug! That means you have to use an extension cable from elsewhere to power your modem and telephone (see photo).

Roofs

Most of the family homes in Australia are one story homes, called bungalows. They are covered with corrugated iron sheet. If there are tiles on the roof they are most of the time made of concrete. -I haven’t seen tiles made of burnt clay so far.

Prices for Houses and Craftsmen

Pretty expensive. A plumber or electrician will easily cost 70-120 dollar per hour plus costs for approach. In conclusion I guess that I would not be afraid to supervise a construction of a standard family house in Australia. In Germany I would never dare to do that. Too many constrictions and rules but here…maybe in some years…you never know…

Even simple houses will easily cost 500.000 $ but Australians can afford them anyhow nevertheless. In comparison to Germany it seems that the mortgage is often paid within 5-10 years compared to Germany where families will pay for their house the next 20-30 years. This is not a researched and reliable fact but only my experience based on some talks to people I have met here.

Advertisements