WHEN Chris and Rebecca Parsons purchased a 40-hectare block of land at Hervey Range, Townsville, it was a blank canvas.
For the seasoned home builders – they own and operate a building company, Parsons Constructions and Rebecca also runs My Vintage Wedding – it was an opportunity to create an award-winning masterpiece.
The couple and their four children – Lily 13, Molly 11, Charlie 10 and Mia 7 – are right at home in the pavilion-style, six-bedroom home.
“We built the parent’s retreat pavilion and moved in October 2010,” Rebecca said. “We lived in this area for about eight months while Chris built the remainder of the house.
“Technically there was no kitchen or laundry, and we had the usual dramas for north Queensland. The build went as smoothly as can be expected for a family living on a building site.”
Designed by Greg van Dinter, GVD Building Design, it includes three separate wings linked by enclosed walkways and decks.
Locally sourced Australian hardwood has been used extensively, both externally and internally including large exposed posts and beams, polished flooring and decking.
The living wing in the centre of the house features a large open plan kitchen and living area. There is a master bedroom and children’s living wing.
The property is home to a small beef cattle herd and flock of Dorper sheep.
Staring down Cyclone Yasi
EARLY in the build, the Parsons home was tested by Mother Nature.
With severe tropical Cyclone Yasi bearing down on north Queensland, the family spent a nervous time in the lead up to it crossing the coast, readying the home as best as possible.
At the time, the family of six was living in one pod.
“I remember the day it was supposed to hit Chris was out screwing the roof on,” Rebecca recalled.
Next on the list was access to the underground cellar – the only part of the home not built from timber.
“Right up to the last six to 12 hours before Yasi hit they were unsure how far it would go south so we opened the cellar which was made from masonary block so we could get in there if we needed to,” Rebecca said.
“It was an anxious time because we had so much of the house that wasn’t finished and really open to the elements.
“It was a great test for the house. It stood up to everything that was thrown at it that night.”
Energy efficient winner
ASK any north Queensland resident what helps get them through the steamy tropical summers and airconditioning is bound to feature highly.
But it was one house feature that the Chris, who is originally from Barraba, NSW, and Rebecca, who grew up at Yelarbon, southern Queensland, wanted to do without.
Designed with the northern summers in mind, the pavilion style home has energy efficiency kudos by the bucket load.
Rebecca and Chris have been avid supporters of energy efficiency for a long time, with it featuring heavily in most of the homes they build through their company, Parsons Constructions based in Townsville and working across north and northwest Queensland.
“We were doing energy efficiency before the general population realised they needed to look more closely at what they could do better in regards to energy efficiency,” Rebecca said.
“People are more conscious of their carbon footprint and are trying to look at ways of improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
“Energy efficiency was something we wanted to do because we didn’t want to be reliant on airconditioners.”
With large shaded decks, roof and wall insulation and 900mm overhangs, together with louvre windows and ceiling fans, the interior of the home stays cool even on the hottest day, minimising the need for airconditioning.
“The home is situated on the block so it captures the best breezes,” Rebecca said.
“We have lots of louvres – more than 800 in the house – and they have certainly increased airflow through the house.
“In our living area and onto our deck area there is an eight metre opening and doors slide back so it can be open all year around apart from when it gets a little cold in winter.”
The raised timber floors allow for subfloor ventilation. The lighting is either fluorescent or LED lighting while externally light coloured materials has been used. The home also has a 10kW solar panel system.
A love of timber
THE entire home is made out of rainforest timber, apart from the masonary block cellar.
Featuring timber was a good match. It allowed Chris to do much of the building work himself, and gave him an opportunity to work with a product he loves.
The timber was sourced from a sawmill at Ravenshoe, west of Cairns. The Parsons were able to see the mill in action and the timber in the yard, before it was transported to the site.
The story Country homes: A tribute to the traditional Queenslander first appeared on Queensland Country Life.