The ‘free’ house in Union Street, South Lismore.
The ‘free’ house in Union Street, South Lismore. Jacklyn Wagner

Free house had some hidden costs

IT WAS possibly the fastest house sale in South Lismore’s history when the fibro Queenslander at 235 Union Street was advertised ‘for free’ this week.

Owner Gerry Lee was half-way through spray-painting the sale sign on the front and side walls when the first inquiry came.

“This guy pulled up begging me to hold it for him but I had to tell him to go and price the job properly,” he said.

“The phone was running hot but a lot of people thought they could just get a free home. I got calls from as far away as Brisbane.

“Unfortunately most people weren’t equipped to remove it, and most didn’t realise they needed a DA to do it,” he said.

“A Casino builder got it in the end and he’s going to dismantle it for the materials.”

The 1940s house is a classic piece of South Lismore history having belonged to former Lismore councillor, and local legend, HabibHabib.

His son, John Habib, who grew up in the house and still lives next door, was a little sad to see the original family home go, but said it was what his dad would have wanted.

“Dad would’ve approved. He always wanted the industrial blocks to join up with the main road here,” he said.

The house was built more than 65 years ago by Harold McKee.

At that time the block extended from Three Chain Road to Snow Street and right back to the Australian Air Freight warehouse.

“Dad had an orchard of over 100 trees, house cows and vegie gardens,” MrHabib said.

If that wasn’t enough for the enterprising emigrant, he also had a shop at the current Caltex site selling various merchandise with his brother Henry.

His son remembers him selling Model-T Fords, scaled model aircraft and, doing shoe repairs.

“Dad was famous in the model aircraft industry,” Mr Habib said.

“He even held an Australian record at one stage.

“Dad would be happy with the plans for the site.

“The block is going to a great bloke and he will do a lot for South Lismore.”

Mr Lee will extend his caravan business, Pacific RV, behind the house.

“I’ll be able to expand the display area and access the main road frontage,” he said.

“I’ll then be able to stock the big ‘fifth wheeler’ caravans which won’t fit on the current block.”

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