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See inside this relocated and renovated bungalow

Separated by distance and a pandemic, a woman’s dream of relocating a historic home to the countryside of her youth was a passion project

Meet & greet
Julie (barrister) and Sean Granger (environmental operations manager), Laird, 11, and Tilly, eight.

Standing on a narrow, dusty road in a picturesque hinterland, Julie Granger’s heart was in her throat. Half her dream home, a 1900s historic house, was on the back of a truck, precariously crossing a creek over a single lane bridge. “We were watching to make sure it wouldn’t fall off,” the barrister explains.

Timber homes, such as this classic example, are common in the subtropical region of her childhood. “I love old houses, their history, and the architecture,” says Julie.

For years, Julie had been searching the websites of companies specialising in relocating and repiling this type of house “in the hope one day the dream might become a reality,” she says. Then, in 2019, Julie and husband Sean found a home in the holding yard of a removals firm. “They buy houses and put them up for sale on their website,” Julie explains. “Then they move them.”

Julie and Sean, who works in environmental management, live in the city with their children, Laird and Tilly. Their careers and the children’s education necessitate they stay put for the next few years, but the family retain strong connections to the area of her youth. “It’s my heart home,” says Julie. “It’s where I’m happiest.” It’s where she and Sean first met, studying at university, and the couple have talked about returning to the region one day.

Julie says when they first inspected the three-bedroom house, her heart skipped a beat. “It was love at first sight,” she says. “It had tongue-and-groove panelling throughout, original hoop pine floorboards, original fretwork and ceiling roses… and the sweetest green casement windows.” It had been cut in half, its roof removed, and was ready to be relocated.

A few months prior, while holidaying at a beachside town in the region, Julie had remarked jokingly to Sean that they should buy a place in the area. Sean, a keen surfer, didn’t need extra encouragement, and they started scouring real estate websites. They found the ideal place, 20 minutes from the coastal town. “It was an old cow paddock,” says Sean. “It was perfect for us.”

Julie’s dream of relocating a classic house was coming together, but the Grangers would have to manage their relocation and renovation from 800km away – and during the Covid pandemic. Apart from council approvals and ensuring delivery to the site was possible, given road and weather conditions, the Grangers also had to meet the requirements for building in a designated fire-prone area. It was a daunting project, but by December 2019 the house was finally on the block.

Once there, the home was repiled and stitched back together, which took about a week, and the roof replaced. The house also had to be connected to a septic system, rainwater tanks and power. “The house was in an unliveable condition, with no functioning bathroom and kitchen,” says Julie. “It was a major renovation.”

Managing the project remotely, the couple gave the builders a detailed scope of work, right down to the architraves. “We wanted it to look like it had been there forever,” says Julie. “When we did something new, it was in keeping with the original.”

The walls, doors and windows are original, and the Grangers retained the French doors and opened up the enclosed veranda. Originally a three-bedroom home with a bathroom off the kitchen, the home has been reconfigured so the three bedrooms and bathroom are at the front, with an ensuite off the main bedroom. The Grangers enlarged the kitchen, and installed a laundry, as well as a wooden deck with views over the bush and a 14,000 litre plunge pool. The garden includes a number of raised vegetable beds, a fire pit, and future plans for an orchard.

“A plot is a small parcel of land or a place to grow food, so it seemed apt,” says Julie of their choice of name, The Plot, for their property. “But The Plot also means a journey or storyline, and this property is a special part of our family’s story… bringing us back full circle to where I grew up and where we met.”

The Grangers plan to live at The Plot once their children have left school. “I’m so passionate about the area,” says Julie. “I’ll always think of it as home.” Despite the difficulties, she and Sean are thrilled with the outcome of the project. “We would do it again in a heartbeat,” says Julie. “I was in love with this type of home before; I’m even more in love with them now.”

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