Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Local colour

There are days when I realise that I’m not in Kansas, or Minnesota, any more. Did you know that the Queensland Department of Main Roads has a standard form for movement of houses? In typical government-speak, it is Document M4238: New Letter of No Objection Application – Building Movements. Less typically, it is a simple one-page document that only needs the location of origin, destination for the house and a straightforward description (roof on or off, how many pieces the house is in, dimensions.) I presume one also needs to be a licensed and registered house remover to gain approval. The department also closes the roads to house movements between 19 December and 2 January because of the volume of traffic during the period (and I presume the unusual holiday traffic patterns and times).

Why do I know this? Well there is my natural high level of curiosity and there is also the fact that today we received verbal approval from council to move our house. Official documentation will not come out until 18 December by which time we will have entered the Christmas hiatus. Australia slowly comes back to life in mid to late January. The Christmas/summer shutdown used to drive my Chinese colleagues in Sydney insane and I see that Kevin Rudd is in agreement and vows to have his new ministers back on the job straight after Boxing Day. Then there is a two-week lead-in time to obtain permits, arrange the police escort etc. so we are looking at the end of January.

As soon as actual dates are forthcoming, we will be planning moving festivities. It has been suggested that issuing tickets and provision of light refreshments to interested bystanders and neighbours might somewhat offset the cost of the bulldozer that will be required to drag the house on a trailer up the approximately 40 degree gradient gravel driveway and over the paddocks.

When I shake my head in amazement that we live in a place that has standard operating procedures for the transport of houses, I also remember that we now live somewhere where the purchase of a removal house is an attractive and economical option for extension of elderly houses. I like to think of it as an advanced form of recycling. Conservation of our heritage aside, I just can’t bear to see old houses gutted and destroyed. Some people rescue kittens. I have a soft spot for houses and trees.

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