Before Matt McClelland’s wife Anne died six years ago, they’d been looking for a rural property to build on - a place to call home for them and for their four adult children to come to visit. So when Matt stumbled across 40 acres in central Victoria with spectacular views to Mt Alexander’s granite hill side, he knew he’d found the spot.
He had the land – but the house had to fit. Crucial in the design, was accommodating Anne’s wishes in creating a pavilion style home inspired by the aesthetic of the rural Australian shearing shed….which means featuring the most important element intrinsic to the style – the portal frame.
It’s a straightforward build….or that’s what Matt thinks. A timber frame clad in corrugated iron - his very own interpretation of the Aussie shed. But this is land loaded with granite and no one is quite sure what’s beneath the surface. That’s no deterrent for 70 year old Matt who reckons it’s a job he can manage.…with a bit of help that is, in the form of his builder nephew Mike.
But Mike is used to fast paced city construction sites, not Matt’s laid back, no frills approach – and when Matt’s cronies arrive to help in times of crisis, the collective inexperience makes for a work site like no other!
This is exposed and tough country and when extreme weather effectively drenches the site, the clean up takes on mammoth proportions. It may be a simple design but just getting it out of the granite packed ground swallows up so much time and energy – and for a team of essentially 2, one being a novice, this is a build where humour is as important as hardware.
Building a home is no easy task but for a 70 year old flying solo, putting down roots for the generations to come, presents its own set of challenges, especially when Mike is working to the beat of a different drum!
Budget pressures, weather issues and shifting schedules have little impact on the laconic easy going Matt who takes it all in his stride.
The thing is…..at this rate, will it ever get finished?