Valdal, BDP and James Hardie to the rescue for a heritage gem
With his passion for excellent craftsmanship and innovation in construction, local builder Stuart Valdal had been looking for the ideal Toowoomba property to transform into a flagship building, to demonstrate what his team can achieve. Working together with David Melloy of Building Design Professionals (BDP), Stuart has faithfully reconstructed the front façade of a classic heritage listed Arthur Street worker’s cottage, and reimagined the entire house as an elegant contemporary two-storey home.
Toowoomba - a goldmine of renovation potential
The streets of Toowoomba are full of properties that ooze character and potential but appear to be derelict and beyond saving. There’s also a general feeling that working with Heritage Advisers is too much of a headache and their restrictions on listed properties rule out a practical transformation that can embrace contemporary features, design styles and finishes.
Step in the dynamic duo of Valdal and BDP. Coming up with a game-changing design and build, incorporating modern design concepts and building materials, the Arthur Street house is turning heads and changing minds about what can be achieved with these heritage gems.
The BDP design for Arthur Street - preserving history and embracing modern living
Principal of BDP, David Melloy bought the company in 2013, and has taken the business from strength to strength. Working on roughly 80 projects each year with builders in Queensland and interstate, their portfolio ranges from large scale $12 million+ commercial buildings to smaller residential renovations like the Arthur Street build. David particularly enjoys working on renovation projects, because the limitations of the existing building offer more interesting design challenges.
“The problems you encounter during a project like Arthur Street can almost always be turned into opportunities to make the design better,” says Melloy. “We did have a lot of issues to resolve, everything from the small narrow block to the sewer running through the back, not to mention concerns from the council and heritage advisers. But these all produced solutions that have made this project into a really innovative building Stuart and I can be proud of.”
Although the property was in a poor enough state to be demolished David was against this because it would have meant lodging an impact assessable development application, slowing things down and subjecting the plans to even more council scrutiny. By restoring the front of the building to it’s former 19th century glory and creating a two-level rear extension, the BDP design brings together some of the best elements of traditional and contemporary construction and design.
“We worked very closely with the Toowoomba Regional Council’s Heritage Adviser to be sure the details we included on the façade were true to the 19th century origins of the cottage and not borrowed from some other historic era,” says Melloy. “Things like the galvanised flashing and mitred corners all add to the authenticity of the building’s street frontage.”
Taking residential construction to the next level
The construction technique and materials used in the rear extension tell a very different story. Strongly influenced by BDP’s commercial projects, David has approached the two level design with the astute use of steel, glass and a portal frame structure to create a home full of light, space and a seamless blending of indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Stuart and Emily love to entertain so we’ve created a home that has many different spaces for people to gather throughout the seasons,” says Melloy. “The stacker doors are recessed into the wall to save on internal space and make it really easy to bring the outside in and vice versa. It does get cold in Toowoomba so there’s underfloor heating installed too, so the indoor areas can feel cosy and intimate or airy and light.”
Splayed Stria - gives the appearance of a classic thick wooden weatherboard
Valdal Projects - masters of the fine craftsmanship of restoration and construction
According to Melloy, many builders shy away from using a lot of steel in their projects, sticking to timber as a trusted structure. But Stuart Valdal has a strong sense of adventure and, like Melloy, enjoys pushing the boundaries to get a better result.
After working in construction in Brisbane, Valdal established his company, Valdal Projects in 2012. Adding extensions to older properties in Brisbane gave him a taste for striking a fine balance between contemporary and heritage in his approach to construction. Working on a commercial project in Toowoomba, Valdal saw immense potential for this type of work and started looking out for a property to transform into a showcase project.
“Arthur Street wasn’t the perfect block but that’s half the fun,” says Valdal. “It’s narrow, and with the addition of the second-storey, we had to keep the extension set back quite a distance from the boundary. But working with the portal frame structure and lightweight building materials from the Scyon walls range, we’ve achieved something quite remarkable and ground-breaking for this neighbourhood.”
“When people saw the framing going up, they got a bit nervous, imagining they’d be looking at this immense rendered structure. But with the variety of cladding finishes we’ve included, it really makes a large, modern building blend in nicely with our faithful reconstruction of the cottage façade.”
ScyonTM cladding: the lightweight hero for modern and character builds
As a lightweight, robust and hardwearing cladding with an authentic weatherboard look, Scyon LineaTM was an obvious choice for the front of the cottage.
“Unlike hardwoods or cypress boards, ScyonTM won’t shrink or warp over time. There’s no guesswork involved when you use it, as there can be with timber, such as trying to figure out how much the timber will move and make allowances. There’s a lot of moisture in Toowoomba which can play havoc with timber structures. I’ve been to check buildings wrapped in Scyon cladding 3 years ago and the finish is still immaculate.”
“It’s just so easy to install - you can have the house wrapped in just a few days, knowing you’ll get a quality finish with no unexpected gaps. It saves on time and you don’t have to allow for space on site that you would need to layout and prep your timber boards.”
Valdal is a builder with a growing reputation for quality and attention to detail in all his work. He submits every project for Master Builders awards, with the confidence that there won’t be any flaws in his buildings for the judges to notice. As well as making it easier for him to finish buildings to the standard he expects, the Scyon walls range also offers professionals like Melloy and Valdal plenty of options to keep modern, boxy structures looking interesting and dynamic.
“We’ve used three types of Scyon cladding for Arthur Street,” says Melloy. “The Linea weatherboards work beautifully for the weatherboard look at the front and we’ve worked in the StriaTM splayed cladding towards the back as another horizontal, linear material with a chamfer-style profile, so it’s different but still looks traditional.”
“Being laid horizontally, both the Linea and Stria splayed profile work well in places where you want the appearance of width - around the stacker doors for example. Then we’ve used the vertical Axon 133mm smooth cladding on the upper level as it adds more to the appearance of height.”
Sharing expertise to benefit future renovations in Toowoomba
According to Valdal, the type of renovation he’s carried out at Arthur Street is proving popular with other clients looking for a similar sort of transformation for their own period homes.
“For every five out of six future builds we do, I expect to be using Scyon products as an integral part of our build,” says Valdal. “It’s just ideal for a low maintenance and high quality finish that looks right for a character property. And we’re working on a brand new build at Highfields using Matrix cladding to give the home a really bold, contemporary style.”
Melloy has entered the Arthur Street project into the 2016 Building Designers Association Queensland (BDAQ) awards. The Melloy/Valdal team have have worked closely with the BDAQ throughout the project, sharing their approach to the design and building process for the benefit of future renovation projects. Their experience of working with council and heritage advisers is helping other local construction businesses to hit the ground running and introduce striking and liveable home renovations to many Toowoomba neighbourhoods.
Garage spaces: 2
Roof style: flat and pitched over garage
Building Designer: Building Design Professionals
Builder: Valdal Projects