Saturday, 18 May 2013

Typical Sydney houses

The garden is settling in to winter-mode and it means I can take a break from the big projects I've done over summer. It's a nice break. So today I'm taking a break from the garden to show you something else that I really enjoy - architecture, especially anything heritage and historic. I really want to talk a little about the typical Sydney terrace house because there doesn't seem to be any blogs talking about them and I want to show visitors from abroad how we live here. Oh and I almost forgot - I live in one and they are really great!

Most houses within a 4 kilometre radius from the Sydney CBD are terrace houses. They look like this:

Note the balcony balustrade is what we call "iron lace". The eaves are also decorated with a line of (smaller) iron lace.

Some have rear lane access, but for those that don't, there are practical considerations, namely "where can I keep my garbage bins?"

On the footpath, of course

  Single-storey terrace versions (and these are considered fairly wide - double windows!)

This morning Mr. J. and I decided to inspect an open house not far from ours. It is the second from the right in the photo below:

Inside, there were a lot of features typical of Sydney terraces, such as fireplaces..


Beautiful archways with ornate moldings (if you look close enough they are bunches of grapes, actually)

Old light switches with VJ walls and more iron fences

The rear of the property.You can see at least 5 other properties in this photo.

These houses were built in the late 1800s house mainly for poor workers. They were often crowded and soon became known as 'slums'. Attempts were made to demolish most of them (in fact after 1900 terrace houses were banned from being built) but due to their superior construction (double brick) and desirable locations, most have survived today. Actually not only have they survived, they have become Sydney's most desired and most expensive homes. 

Australians from outside Sydney (along with foreigners) often wonder why the new settlers, surrounded by some much space, decided to build houses that were so narrow (many range in width from 3.7m to 5.5m). Back then transport wasn't readily available and people needed to live close to where they worked, and these houses took up little space.

On that point, here is the outline from the house we saw today, which is pretty typical of terrace design (this one is 3.7m wide):

There's something almost obscene about paying close to and over $1million for places that were once two-room slums. But that's the Sydney property market. The terrace house is unique in Sydney (few exist elsewhere in Australia) and it oozes charm with its ornate, 1800s Victorian-features. A very typically 'Sydney' way of living.

Hope you enjoy seeing the local architecture!


  1. OMG LOVE Sydney terrace houses !!! yes keep blogging on them - stunning oohh the craftsmanship, iron lace just beautiful - some heritage listed homes in bris have also... keep blogging these homes Adam... nifty ideas for dressing our old homes :)

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  2. I have a plant in flower at the HLQ as promised I shall put on the Blog :) surprised it is in flower due to this freezing cold weather 8 degrees yest OMG this would be the only time its not FAB in a Qld'er "zero insulation in walls and floors) !!!

    1. OK, I'll keep an eye out for the plant. Same thing with terraces, all double brick and floor boards, they are great in summer (very cool) but freezing in winter. No insulation either because they were built with fireplaces in every room - but who has the time to maintain a fireplace? Not to mention the environmental effects..

    2. Wow see - info we in other states etc are not aware of in terrace homes (history of housing I love) !!!

      Thats why its important to blog about it :) ... wow fireplaces in every room - sounds very uk'ish ...

  3. Though these Sydney terrace houses with iron lace are small, but they look most livable and cosy when there is a nice garden. A great post, Adam.

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