Making the worst house in the street an entertainer's dream
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Making the worst house in the street an entertainer’s dream

Even a railway line and a horse racing track couldn’t sideline this exuberant project

By Robyn Willis
Mon, Apr 17, 2023 11:00amGrey Clock 4 min

I f you asked your architect for their opinion on a property you were thinking of buying, you would take their advice, wouldn’t you? Apparently not.

When the owner of this property in Caulfield asked director of Melbourne-based firm, EAT Architects, Albert Mo, what he thought, his verdict was clear.

“We advised him against it,” Mo says. “It was a pretty bad site, squeezed between Caulfield Racecourse and the train lines, which run along in front of the house. It was really rough in terms of the contextual relationship.”

But the owner bought it anyway, settling on the Edwardian house that Mo describes as almost derelict.

“When I walked into the house for the first time, it was in a shocking state,” he says. “The tin ceiling was in patches and the loft area looked like it had been done by a handyman.”

The original house was in a poor state when the architect first saw it but has been transformed into a welcoming entertaining space, complete with pool. Picture: Derek Swalwell

This slightly contrary behaviour could be attributed in part to the attractive sale price but also to the longstanding relationship the owner has enjoyed with EAT Architects. 

“This is the third place we have done with him. He trusts me and there is not much constraint in terms of materials but I do feel that it needs to be better than the last one so there’s that pressure to continually impress him,” Mo says.

The same builder the client hired on two previous projects also signed up to work on this one, which speaks well of the relationship.  

“He is a great client, although he was tight on the budget and we really worked hard for it,” Mo says. “But sometimes when you have constraints, you become more intuitive.”

The brief from the owner was simple. He wanted a place where he and his family could feel comfortable on a day-to-day basis, as well as creating an inviting space for entertaining.

“He loves entertaining,” Mo says. “He wanted the house back in time for (AFL) Grand Final day because it was all about the barbecue and the outdoor space.”

Despite the poor state of the original house, Mo says he was happy to have an existing structure as a starting point. However, with the train and power lines just beyond the front gate, Mo says providing a sense of comfort and sanctuary proved challenging.

“We had to provide a buffer between the train lines and the new extension,” Mo says. “If you see the exterior of the house, there’s the garden and the swimming pool before you get to the house. Then the long plain side becomes the living, kitchen and open plan area.”

The addition, which also includes the master bedroom suite and guest room, wraps around the original house in the shape of an L-shaped carpenter’s square, which has given the house its name.The new shape lends the family home a sense of structure and permanence. The original house was also restored, including the tin ceiling and brickwork.  

Upstairs, the ‘handyman’s’ loft was demolished and rebuilt to create the two kids’ bedrooms, offering an unexpected opportunity.

“Sometimes you can design everything but things happen because you are on site,” says Mo. “I saw the builder shaping out the roofline and it was just there. I call it the Darth Vader window because of its shape.”

Fitted out with an upholstered seat, underseat storage and casement windows, the dormer window is now a favourite reading nook for the kids.

The ‘Darth Vader’ window has proven popular with the kids. Picture: Derek Swalwell

Because budget was a strong driver, Mo extended the expression of the materials as much as possible. Brick has been used in the addition on the internal floors, as well as the walls, in a variety of patterns, elevating it into a true design element. 

In practical terms, it also creates spaces in this house that are thermally comfortable all year round, as well as providing easy-to-maintain floors ideal for entertaining and creating a sense of indoor/outdoor flow. 

Brick has been used for the walls and floors for practicality, as well as thermal comfort. Timber battens on the ceiling provide some acoustic insulation. Picture: Derek Swalwell

“We were trying to bring the outdoors in and create that sense that it was not just an interior space,” Mo says. “They are a family that likes to have parties and in a high use area in the kitchen and bathroom, you want to be able to mop the floor. They are sealed but it also hides the dirt quite well, and the visual appeal is very high because they are natural materials.”

Timber has also been used in unexpected places, with battens placed in a curved line across the ceiling, echoing the tin ceiling in the original part of the house.

“It helps acoustically when it is not in party mode and it gives the house a human scale,” Mo says. 

Noise from outside has also been mitigated, as much as it can be when your neighbours are passing trains.

“We double glazed everything.”

More: eatas.com.au; mckerliebuilders.com.au



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How much income is required to service a mortgage? It depends on where you live

New research suggests spending 40 percent of household income on loan repayments is the new normal

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Requiring more than 30 percent of household income to service a home loan has long been considered the benchmark for ‘housing stress’. Yet research shows it is becoming the new normal. The 2024 ANZ CoreLogic Housing Affordability Report reveals home loans on only 17 percent of homes are ‘serviceable’ if serviceability is limited to 30 percent of the median national household income.

Based on 40 percent of household income, just 37 percent of properties would be serviceable on a mortgage covering 80 percent of the purchase price. ANZ CoreLogic suggest 40 may be the new 30 when it comes to home loan serviceability. “Looking ahead, there is little prospect for the mortgage serviceability indicator to move back into the 30 percent range any time soon,” says the report.

“This is because the cash rate is not expected to be cut until late 2024, and home values have continued to rise, even amid relatively high interest rate settings.” ANZ CoreLogic estimate that home loan rates would have to fall to about 4.7 percent to bring serviceability under 40 percent.

CoreLogic has broken down the actual household income required to service a home loan on a 6.27 percent interest rate for an 80 percent loan based on current median house and unit values in each capital city. As expected, affordability is worst in the most expensive property market, Sydney.

Sydney

Sydney’s median house price is $1,414,229 and the median unit price is $839,344.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $211,456 to afford a home loan for a house and $125,499 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $120,554.

Melbourne

Melbourne’s median house price is $935,049 and the median apartment price is $612,906.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $139,809 to afford a home loan for a house and $91,642 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $110,324.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s median house price is $909,988 and the median unit price is $587,793.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $136,062 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,887 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $107,243.

Adelaide

Adelaide’s median house price is $785,971 and the median apartment price is $504,799.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $117,519 to afford a home loan for a house and $75,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,806.

Perth

Perth’s median house price is $735,276 and the median unit price is $495,360.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $109,939 to afford a home loan for a house and $74,066 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $108,057.

Hobart

Hobart’s median house price is $692,951 and the median apartment price is $522,258.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $103,610 to afford a home loan for a house and $78,088 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $89,515.

Darwin

Darwin’s median house price is $573,498 and the median unit price is $367,716.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $85,750 to afford a home loan for a house and $54,981 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $126,193.

Canberra

Canberra’s median house price is $964,136 and the median apartment price is $585,057.

Based on 40 percent serviceability, households need a total income of $144,158 to afford a home loan for a house and $87,478 for a unit. The city’s actual median household income is $137,760.

 

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