Renovation of 10 Williams Street East, Woodend in Ipswich.
Renovation of 10 Williams Street East, Woodend in Ipswich.

Inside incredible transformation of 120-year-old house

AN EXTENSIVE 18-month renovation has given an Ipswich home that dates back to the 1890s a new lease on life, with aspiring apprentices playing an important part in the process.

The incredible overhaul of 10 Williams Street East in Woodend, also known as the ‘time capsule’ house, is complete and the house is now on the market.

It’s hard to believe it’s the same property.

Apprentice Rimoni Losipo, supervisor Clint Halliday, Apprenticeships Queensland general manager Paul Hillberg and apprentice Finn Wilson.
Apprentice Rimoni Losipo, supervisor Clint Halliday, Apprenticeships Queensland general manager Paul Hillberg and apprentice Finn Wilson.

About 60 school-based apprentices and students undertaking a Certificate I in Construction played a key role through Apprenticeships Queensland’s Building Futures Program.

The 890 sqm block was bought in 2018 for $270,000 and it’s now back on the market for $699,000.

It is the third project to be completed as part of the program, which partners with TAFE Queensland and local schools, over the past four-and-a-half years.

The other two were also in Ipswich in Sadliers Crossing and North Ipswich.

Apprenticeships Queensland general manager Paul Hillberg said the projects were all about giving young people confidence and skills for future work or training.

“It was very original when we took the property over and we’ve raised it, we’ve built in underneath and then we’ve literally replaced everything except for the original facade and the original board,” he said.

“We’ve tried to keep as much as we can. There was a little bit of damage in some areas so we had to replace that.

“It’s a new house pretty much.”

The front veranda was replaced, a new kitchen, main bedroom ensuite and powder room were installed and the downstairs area has a new laundry, bathroom and family room.

Mr Hillberg said the program was introduced as industry was asking for more experience from those entering the field.

“We thought we could help develop that experience by buying a house, renovating it and engaging and paying for school-based apprentices and engaging school students from a Certificate I point of view to start their career on a house like this,” he said.

“It’s not as aggressively timed from a completion point of view.

“They improve their confidence. It’s not all about skills.”

Apart from one participant, all of the school-based apprentices who took part in the Woodend renovation have now secured a full-time apprenticeship.

For those undertaking a certificate, it’s more about the experience of being on site and learning what it takes to make it a career, rather than just learning how to use a nail gun or a circular saw.

The next project will involve the restoration of a house in East Ipswich, which has already been purchased.

Mr Hillberg said no money has been made from the program so far.

“That’s not the point,” he said.

“It’s about investing some of the money to help the local young people get employment.

“We actually lose money.”

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For apprentice Rimoni Losipo, 18, it was great to see the finished product in the flesh on Thursday.

He just graduated from Bundamba State Secondary College last week.

Mr Losipo became involved right at the start of the renovation but hadn’t been on-site for more than a year.

“I moved into full time and I had a host around July or August so I haven’t been back since then,” he said.

“You learn a lot just looking and observing.

“I learnt the basics of carpentry and I slowly got the gist of what techniques I needed.

“You give it a crack and the next thing you know you’ve got it.

“Hopefully I can continue this and collect my trade at the end of it.

“It’s a good feeling knowing you had something to do with it.”

According to Dianne O’Brien, who is the eldest child of the last owner of the house Delma Prince, the Kerslake family had lived in it since the 1920s.

Ms O’Brien’s grandparents Charles and Ester bought it from Charles’ sister and her husband.

“This home has sheltered five generations of our family over almost 100 years,” Ms O’Brien said.

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“After grandmother’s death, mother purchased the property.

“She kept the house exactly as it was for sentimental reasons down to not allowing any maintenance to ever be carried out.

“In 2010 our son Ewan lived there for a year at the start of his apprenticeship.

“In 2015 (and) 2016, Ewan and his partner Amy and their children Jazz and Michael lived there making five generations to do so.”

First National Real Estate sales agent Helene Shephard has been involved in selling homes overhauled through the program since its inception.

The first open home inspection for the Woodend house will be held on Saturday and Ms Shephard said there was always a buzz around these projects.

“The home has been transformed from a very humble beginning,” she said.

“It’s been transformed into almost a brand new home but been fully respected with the period of the home and the tradition of the home.

“So it’s a fusion and a blend of the tradition and the modern which is what everybody expects.

“The very first home was sold to a lady who wanted to buy it to help the growth of the Apprenticeships Queensland module.

“She was excited to purchase the home, it was a deciding factor for her.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.