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Building Concrete House Took Grit, Determination

Posted: 9am 09 Feb 2018

Brunella Novello says she adopted the "just watch me" mantra to overcome obstacles during building her dream home in Ocean View, northwest of Brisbane.

The property is now five years old but the woman charged with overseeing every step of its construction continues to be surprised.

“I stand at the stairs, and there’s this mass of wood and this mass of steel and glass, and I stand there in the morning and just look at it. I still think wow,” Brunella says.

“There’s still those wonderful surprises. I haven’t grown into it – it still blows me away.”

She and her husband, Carlo, found the block of land one Easter on their journeys to the Sunshine Coast and, after three or four years of careful planning, they began building their dream home in 2011.

Brunella, a teacher, assumed the role of project manager coordinating trades, ordering materials and assisting on site.

“(I did it) just because I thought I could. It really was for the experience and it became clear that what we had in mind and how we wanted to approach it ... to translate it to other people was just really too hard.” she recalls.

“I got some quotes for the house to build and it was just astronomical because they just didn’t understand the build. Often when I’d go to look for materials or ring up to get things they’d say, ‘you can’t do that’ and I’d say, ‘why not?’ and they’d say, ‘well, you can’t’.

“I’d say, ‘just watch me’. That was my mantra.”

Brunella says that the build took about a year but 12-15 months for adding the finishing touches.

Built with more than 500 cubic metres of concrete, the home has four ensuite bedrooms; a combined kitchen, lounge and dining area; and upstairs sitting room, terrace, and kitchenette.

Its north-facing position maximises the magnificent views of the Glass House Mountains, and beyond, but guarantees privacy from the road.

Large glass windows connect the home to its surroundings and frame the ever-changing landscape. Brunella says they chose concrete as the main building material because it is durable. “Despite what everybody says, it’s cold and heartless and grey and dull’, I find it really light and airy,’ she explains.

“I see it as a totally different thing. It’s something that’s not repeatable because even if you went to make the same thing, it just wouldn’t look the same.”

She says there is also an element of surprise because it is impossible to know exactly how it will look when it is poured.

The couple lived at Red Hill for more than 30 years before moving “to the mountain” and have not looked back.

“We just treasure every moment,” she says.

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