‘Good to be home’ after losing house to bushfires

Libby Conway winces at the memory of the hardship she and her family endured after losing their home to bushfires in 2013, but thanks to Paal Kit Homes and a good builder, the Yellow Rock couple and two children are now settled into their new house.

“It was awful,” Libby said, recalling the aftermath of the fires in which she almost lost her life, escaping from a collapsing house and taking shelter on a neighbour’s cleared site as the flames roared through. An estimated 30 homes were lost on Libby’s street alone.

“Initially we didn’t know where to start. We employed professionals to clear our land. The home had been classified as Flame Zone, but now with a 50-metre break around the house, we have a better Bushfire Assessment Level of 40.

“We spent a lot of time looking for a new home. We talked to an architect, but realised that wasn’t what we wanted. Our block of land is long, so we wanted a large home that would fit.”

The brick-veneer home they had occupied for 13 years had a detached two bedroom dwelling that the couple used as a bed-and-breakfast.

Luckily the Conways discovered a good supplier, Paal Kit Homes of Emu Plains, who modified the Derwent design, adding a guest flat. The couple also found a good builder, Cunningham’s Building, and were able to move into their new house in November last year.

“A kit home was affordable for us. Paal were very responsive in altering their design and liaising with us and our builder,” Libby said.

“Michael and I liked the fire-resistance of Paal’s steel-framed homes, but our main reason for favouring steel was the termites. They’re a terrible problem around here.

“Although we bought a kit, we didn’t owner-build – as of course we hadn’t planned on replacing our home. The builder we used had good time management skills and everything stayed on track.

“We’re very happy with the end result. Once we moved in, we said ‘it’s good to be home’. Our bed-and-breakfast is operating again too!”