Skip links and keyboard navigation

Skip to primary navigation | Skip to secondary navigation | Skip to content | Skip to content | Skip to footer | Use tab and cursor keys to move around the page (more information)
Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > About us > Our history > 1950


By 1950, more than 2,000 families lived in temporary accommodation in Queensland paying rents per week ranging from 12 shillings and 6 pence ($1.25) for a one bedroom house to up to 27 shillings and 6 pence ($2.75) for a four bedroom house. In 1950, the average weekly wage was nearly £10 ($20).
As well as establishing temporary camps, the Queensland Housing Commission was building new houses to try and meet the growing demand.
Because of the limited supply of materials available locally, the Commission resorted to importing them. Cement was ordered from Czechoslovakia, iron sheeting from Belgium, timber from Finland and Sweden, and from England, roofing plus '2,000 baths of excellent quality'.
Despite the efforts of the Queensland Government, the time taken to complete a single house contract, normally six to eight weeks, often exceeded six months because of the shortage of labour and building materials.
The contract price for one of the first houses built to rent was £840 ($1,680). The quote covered land clearing, construction of a building of fibro-cement, a laundry, clothes line, built-in shelving and cupboards of 'first grade cypress pine', fences, water tank, polished hardwood floors, paint work and connection of water, gas and electricity.
Because of the world-wide material shortages, builders sought help from the Queensland Government in securing scarce materials such as nails, roofing iron, guttering and galvanised piping.
By mid-1945, the Commission had built 198 homes for rent. This had increased to 1,241 homes by mid-1948, but it was still not enough to overcome the crisis. The concept of importing houses pre-cut and ready to be erected was proposed and implemented.
In 1958 a European termite was discovered in some of the imported timber 'pre-fab' houses. The risk of allowing the bug to spread throughout Queensland and Australia was too great. The Commission relocated thousands of families to fumigate their houses.
In total, 2,643 houses were fumigated. Families had to be relocated into temporary accommodation while their homes were wrapped in canvas in preparation for fumigation.
Street view of low-set French imported rental houses of various styles, Zillmere, Brisbane, 1952
Man controlling gas flow, fumigation of French imported house, Zillmere, Brisbane, 1958
Preparation for fumigation of French imported house, Zillmere, Brisbane, 1958

Street view of Swedish imported houses, outhouse in yard of house in foreground,
Acacia Ridge, Brisbane, 1952


Last updated 11 June 2014    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright |  Disclaimer |  Privacy |  Right to information |  Accessibility |  Jobs in Queensland |  Other languages

© The State of Queensland – Department of Housing and Public Works 2009–2019

Queensland Government