How to own a home on acreage for less than $250,000

Couple Emily Vincent and Oliver James have moved an old Queenslander to acreage in Guanaba. Picture Glenn Hampson

Scrupulous house-hunters and flippers are buying relocatable homes to beat the incredible pandemic-driven rise in property prices and building costs.
Second-hand character homes are selling within hours of being listed and for about half the square metre cost of a new-build.
Many of them are being transferred from their original location to their new site without having to settle in a ‘holding’ yard to be flipped, renovated or re-sold as is.
A vast number are being moved from Greater Brisbane to areas such as the Gold Coast Hinterlands, Gympie, the Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, and south Moreton Bay islands.

Relocating and old home and renovating can save you thousands. Picture: Mackay & Sons

A good-condition original three-bedroom Queenslander (165sq m) would set you back about $165,000, including low-set stumping, plaster repair and relocation within 100km.
Third-generation house remover John Wright said about $30,000 in extras, such as council fees, engineering and soil tests as well as connecting plumbing and electricity, also must be factored in to the bottom-line.
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“If a treatment plant is involved you would add another $15,000 to the cost,” Mr Wright said.
Mr Wright runs Queensland House Removers at Caboolture and said they were relocating about three houses a week, with their turnover having increased about $2m in the past 12 months.
“We are flat out and I believe it’s because the cost of materials has gone up, some as much 20 per cent in a month, and the cost of a second-hand house has gone up stuff all,” Mr Wright said.

Queensland House Removals boss John Wright says he is the busiest he has been in years.

“It’s the busiest I have seen in 40 years and I would say about 70 per cent would move within 100km from our depot and if all approvals and connections go to plan, they could be living in it within six months.”
In comparison, a new-build character house (165sq m) would cost between $2,000 per sqm to build, or $330,000 upwards, said Andrew Williams, managing director of GW Homes, established in 1966.
“The smaller the character home is to build, say a 100 square metre home, you’re down to $3,000 a square metre. The bigger the home, the cost per square metre decreases,” Mr Williams said.
Cost was not the motivation for Gold Coast couple Emily Vincent and her partner Oliver James to buy a dilapidated Queenslander and relocate it to their Guanaba acreage for renovation.
Yet the couple concede the saving they will make is an attractive side-hustle to their home-buying adventure.

Brisbane-based GW Homes managing director Andrew Williams. Picture Annette Dew

Emily and Oliver bought a 10-acre site in the leafy suburb of Guanaba last year for $576,000, which they intend to regenerate into a wildlife habitat.
Not long after they found their renovator dream home sitting in the yard of Atlas Home Removers in Brisbane.
The character Queenslander had been rescued by the company, which removes homes set for demolition, from a site in Toowoomba that was to be turned into a mine. The pair paid $125,000 for it, including transportation costs to the Gold Coast.
“It was quite a scary process buying a house this way because you have to pay for everything upfront, before you have it on your land,” she said. “So it’s the opposite of what normally happens, where you pay when a house is finished.
“Also the house was uninsurable until it was in situ, so you just have to risk it a little bit and hope nothing happens during transportation. It was a little bit nerve wracking, but once it was here it was all fine.”

Emily Vincent and Oliver James will renovate this old Queenslander, giving them their dream home for less than $250,000. Picture Glenn Hampson

The home was split into two pieces, which made it cheaper to transport, and the couple started renovations, which they doing themselves, a few months ago.
Oliver, who is a builder, estimates it will cost roughly $100,000 to bring the 200sq m home up to liveable standard.
All up, the project will cost them less than $250,000 (not including labour).
Given that Guanaba has a median house price of $1.35 million, it is a pretty enticing saving.
“Renovating a house is something that we have always wanted to do,” Emily said.
“Doing this wasn’t necessarily a financial decision, but when you look at the end point, we’ll have a home made of hardwood and quality materials which is of character for less than half the price of a what it would cost to build a home from scratch.
“Of course if you had to employ someone else to do the work, it would cost more, but even it comes out at the same price, you would still end up with a better-quality home.”

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