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  • Writer's pictureJon Ruwolt

Lamb House Restoration Costs


Jane and Steve Wilson purchased the historic property at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, for $12.75 million in May 2021 and planned to spend about $15 million bringing the heritage-listed property back to life.

  (ABC Radio Brisbane: Steve Austin)
The price of restoring Lamb House rose along with global increases in construction costs.

The couple intend to make the multi-million-dollar riverside estate their future family home.

  • Mr Wilson said the project, which they first estimated would cost about $15 million, began in the "save it" stage.

  • Mr Wilson would not reveal how much they had spent restoring the home but said the price tag had increased beyond their initial estimation, as had building costs in recent years.

Jane and Steve Wilson at Lamb House 2021
Jane and Steve Wilson at Lamb House 2021

"I'm fortunate that I've had a career that allows me to afford this and it's a passion project," he said.


"We started off saying we were going to save it, which was task one because it was literally a heavy thunderstorm or a match away from destruction," he said. "The roof had caved in."

Roof caved in at Lamb House
A damaged light fitting inside Lamb House. (ABC News: Jessica Rendall)

Built in 1902-03 for John Lamb, the successful co-proprietor of Queen Street store Edwards & Lamb, the property is a rare example of a federation residence in Brisbane, designed by architect Alexander B Wilson.

Brisbane City Council listed the six-bedroom mansion for sale in 2021 after a long-running dispute with the previous owner, Joy Lamb, over unpaid rates.

Perched on Kangaroo Point cliffs, the 3,146-square-metre heritage-listed site has views of the Brisbane River, the CBD and Story Bridge, and the land was valued at more than $6 million in 2019.

Now the new owners say the restoration is "progressing rapidly" and they hope to move into their home by November. The Wilsons have ensured their changes are in line with the house's heritage listing.

Mr Wilson says they are able to make amendments to the home to ensure it is liveable — including replacing one of the bedrooms with a second bathroom and updating the kitchen.


One of the elements of the house that the pair have fought to restore is the red cedar wood which is written into the home's heritage citation.

"We're faithfully restoring that, and where some is so badly damaged, which is the case, we're replacing it with red cedar," Mr Wilson said.

Steve Wilson says the purpose of the restoration is to preserve as much as possible.


Slideshow of images: Click '>' or '<' to change images


It was difficult to restore some of the badly damaged red cedar wood in the home. "It's very hard to get hold of … so by and large we've sought to restore that, where there does need to be some patching or restoration or new work, it's been a battle, but we've managed to secure it."

"There's also some hoop pine in there, again native to Queensland, so we're putting that in place as well."


One challenge in restoring the home has been the fact it was badly damaged by vandals and items were stolen — including the lead light.

Instead, Mr Wilson has used images of what the light looked like to inspire the design of a new one to replace it.

When they took ownership and revealed plans to restore the home, Mr Wilson said he was surprised that many people who had taken things from the house — to protect them — returned the items!


He believed it would have been a tragedy to see the house continue to decay or be subdivided into apartments by developers.

"The philosophy for the restoration is to be pure to the soul of the house and the intent of the house," he said.

"Now that means keeping things in many cases the way they were, that means as much preservation as possible.

"But also remembering that this was a house for a large family ... so that does require modernisation."


The ABC's Restoration Australia will broadcast a program on the restoration of Lamb House.


Read more from this ABC Story:

Posted Yesterday at 12:09pm, updated 20h ago

Previous ABC Stories on Lamb House:

Previous articles on Lamb House at federation-house.com

  1. Brisbane's Lamb House SOLD Jon Ruwolt | Brisbane 's Lamb House SOLD

  2. Lamb House at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane Jon Ruwolt | Restore These Homes!

  3. Save Lamb House Jon Ruwolt | Save 'Lamb House '

  4. The Lamb Jon Ruwolt | 'Home ', the grand old lady of Brisbane’s past

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