From the ashes

A Paal fire-resistant home now stands on the site of the house that Victor and Raelene lost to bushfires

After Raelene and Victor Gill lost their home in the Victorian bushfires, they decided to rebuild from more durable materials. The couple chose a steel-framed home from Paal Kit Homes, clad it in aerated concrete panels and fitted double-glazed windows for further protection.

Their new four-bedroom home, set on twelve acres opposite the Kinglake National Park, is everything they had hoped for.

Raelene, Victor and their children had lived in their weatherboard house at Steels Creek for 15 years before escaping just minutes before it was engulfed by flames in February 2009.

When choosing a replacement, the Gills were attracted to the fire-resistant qualities of a Paal home. “As well, we liked the Darling design and the fact that Paal was very good at explaining the owner-building process,” Raelene said.

The couple employed a builder to erect the house to lock-up stage, then took control from then onwards, completing much of the interior work themselves.

“I did all the painting and Victor handled most of the joinery. He used to be a cabinet maker and I’m very proud of the standard of his work on the house,” Raelene said.

Contractors were employed for internal tasks such as hanging plaster sheets, corners, plumbing and electricals.

“If there were any hitches during building, we rang John at Paal. He’s a really nice guy and would follow through on our inquiries, keeping us informed,” she said.

“We went through a lot of trauma when we lost our home to the bushfires and it has taken a while for us to recover. It’s more than three years now and we feel a lot better about ourselves.”

Rendered Hebel panels, verandahs all around the house and double-glazed windows improve the home’s fire protection and also augment its insulation, helping keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter.

“The completed home is really nice. Our daughter loves it. Other people like it as well,” Raelene said.