25 January 2020

Charming church restoration for energy efficient home

| John Thistleton
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Sandstone church

The church has been restored and made energy-efficient, removing water and electricity bills. Photos: Supplied.

Living in this charming sandstone church with arched windows and steep ceilings has been made an enticing, energy-efficient option thanks to a skilful renovation. Having the experience of a previous renovation project, Paul Lymbery had the know-how and qualifications to turn the church on the outskirts of Young on the South West Slopes into something extraordinary.

Quarried from nearby hills, the sandstone exterior was in sound condition when Paul and his partner Alison Crowshaw arrived in December 2018. Enthralled by the stonework and serene rural surroundings, they bought the property, undaunted that a previous owner had left before completing a restoration project.

This would be their new home, a lifelong asset to enjoy on completing the work, which included finishing two king-sized bedrooms in a new extension.

“I didn’t find anything that was too hard because I have done a reno before and I am trained in just about everything in construction,” Paul says.

“Being a landscaper and stonemason, you are qualified for plumbing, drainage, irrigation, stonework, carpentry, you’ve got to be able to do everything to be a landscaper, so I didn’t find it all that difficult.”

Lounge room to kitchen

Traditional features blend in with new in the well-considered home.

Traditional features of the 1918 church like the gleaming cypress floorboards blend perfectly into the new kitchen with stone benchtops.

Sadly, a health setback is forcing the couple to return to the coast and this comfortable, landmark home is on the market.

The new work includes 6.5 kilowatts of solar panels on the roof of the extension, with a 4.8 kilowatt battery back-up. A rainwater tanks hold 20,000 litres behind the new extension and another tank holds 6,000 litres for garden irrigation.

“You don’t have a power bill, you don’t have a water bill, your rates are $430 a year, so it costs you $430 a year to live here,’’ he says.

“The solar system charges the battery during the day, any excess is used in the house and excess after that goes back to the grid. You get paid for the excess. At night, the power comes from the battery, not the grid.”

Inside, original pressed metal ceilings are uplifting. “I had to re-nail a few back up, wire-brush and wire-wheel all of the rust on them and rust convert them, then prime them with rust-guarding primer, then an oil-based primer and two coats of oil-based white over the top,” Paul says. “I got a contractor to help do that. They have come up well; they are spectacular.”


A huge new stove and stone benchtops are in the kitchen.

He carefully dismantled the windows, replaced their hinges and installed new timber in the crosses and replaced damaged glass. He negotiated a good deal from a lighting shop which sells distinctive handmade leadlights which are in the back rooms.

Contractors who installed Caesarstone benchtops in kitchen and the sparkling three-way bathroom also installed stone tops on the windowsills of all the old arch windows. A deep, under-mount double sink is in the kitchen where a Belling gas and electric stove has three ovens and five burners, and resemble an old-fashioned agar stove. There is a butler’s pantry and laundry.

In winter, a wood combustion fire heats the home which has won over the owners’ hearts. They look down a valley or across farm paddocks and their nearest neighbour is 500 metres away.

“I love it,” Paul says. “Friendly, friendly people in the Young area made us want to look out here and buy here originally.”

Three-way bathroom

A three-way bathroom adds to the comfort.

Ornamental fruit trees and roses surround the church on a huge 968 square-metre block. “In about three years it will look spectacular,” Paul says. “It’s a great climate here for roses, they don’t get diseases.”

Norton Realty agent Mat McKnight will auction the home on Saturday, 1 February at 11:00 am. For an inspection contact Mat on 0409 325 983.

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