The short answer is…. it’s booming!
This may be one of those curly headings… but an experience we’ve had recently working on a strip out project has got me thinking! It seems the attraction to invest in the comparatively ‘cheap’ domestic housing market to professionals looking to immigrate to Australia, has the deconstruction industry running hot! Much to the detriment of our architectural history!
Last month was a big week spent in a beautiful historic street in Toorak stripping out an interwar period home… as always, amazed at the near perfect kitchen and appliances, copper bay window porticos, entire walls of custom Skyrange steel (gal primed) windows with bronze fixtures, Velux skylights, pure wool carpets, ceiling to floor heavy drapes, 2 storeys of speckled Hawthorn bricks, metres of paving slate, hand forged Caslake ironwork gates and oodles of Arts and Craft period fixtures… that were destined for landfill, not to mention the gardens!! (I am always reflective about demolition, but so little is said about the gardens…. this was nothing super spectacular (plenty of box hedge and artemesia) but the established trees always strike a chord, especially for us that hail from semi arid climes!).
On each account last year we were told that the property had been bought by Chinese investors, it has become a catch phrase that we hear often, and it wasn’t until the new owner dropped by last week in Toorak that we had had the rumour validated. This owner explained to us that although she had purchased the property and was very happy with it, she was keen to have her Australian citizenship and one way she could fulfill the process was to demolish her investment, and re-inject the economy by rebuilding.
I found the simplicity of her story slightly baffling… i’m sure there is more to it than her basic explanation in stilted english…. but I would be curious to understand this process of obtaining Australian citizenship for some lucky few… this is the 8 – 10th period home that we have worked on believed to have been purchased for investment that has had a citizenship story attached to it! I realise that we are reading about this in the housing magazines and the news… but this reality is something that we (us… here… in our dusty yard!) are facing on a weekly basis…. and it seems that nobody is protecting these small but seemingly significant parts of our cultural (slim pickings in this country) architectural heritage. I’m sick of bleating about it… and we are, along with small teams of other house strippers in this country… running as fast as we can to salvage items that make up the bulk of these places… but we are so few, that we can’t keep up with the machines… or the development contracts!!! War on (industrial) Waste… we need your help to educate!!!!
On a pragmatic level, and the thing that enables us to keep doing what we do… all of the above, are now safely back in our yard and for sale!