Happy first homecoming in Yellow Rock after October fires

Willem and Lani Fercher enjoying their first weekend back in Yellow Rock in the home they rebuilt.
Willem and Lani Fercher enjoying their first weekend back in Yellow Rock in the home they rebuilt.

Few people can say they built their family home - twice - on the same slab.

But after the Fercher family's two-storey home on Cooroy Crescent, Yellow Rock was destroyed during October's bushfires Willem Fercher found, like many other families, that he was under-insured to the tune of more than $200,000.

He felt he had little other option than to lodge a development application, take time off from running his business Winmalee Car Care, pick up a tool kit and get stuck into reconstruction.

That mammoth effort paid off last Saturday when Mr Fercher, his wife Lani and their children Shana (21) and Kieran (17) moved into their just finished new house, making them officially the first bushfire affected family to resettle in Yellow Rock.

"I built the original house 18 years ago, put all the frames up myself and everything," Mr Fercher said.

"This second time around we changed things a little bit - put the kitchen upstairs and moved a bedroom to another side - but we made sure it was built on the same slab and footings.

"We lost everything after that fire but we've been given it back.

"Building it ourselves was something we just had to do, but using local builders and tradies made things much easier for me and that's what I really want to emphasise.

"Excavator Jason Compton took great care when clearing our property and managed to retain the garden rockwalls, two front driveways and even the old letterbox - these things mean a lot to us.

"We'd like to thank two local builders Russell Brown and Andrew Renneberg, bricklayer Daniel Curtis, Scaff Worx and Rapid [gyprockers].

"My business was kept ticking over by our second year apprentice Curtis Hardaker who did a great job while I was away.

"Because of him we hired his dad, who happens to be a plumber, to install all the pipes in our new house.

"It's been a joyful process - well maybe joyful is going a bit far, but certainly very satisfying.

"Yellow Rock and Winmalee are such great communities and now that we've moved back we want to push the point to others who are considering what to do, to think that maybe rebuilding is worth getting done."

Mrs Fercher paid credit to her husband for putting in long hours day after day, month after month to get the house finished.

"Willem is a mechanic, not a builder, but he is very clever and hard working and he just never stopped," she said.

"Everyone has now noticed he's lost a lot of weight, probably too much, so hopefully we can fatten him up a bit.

"Shana and Kieran, who is doing his HSC exams this year, helped us a lot - pretty much every weekend they'd been doing something, whether it was painting or labouring.

"Kieren is planning to have his 18th birthday party in our new home, so I hope it will still be standing after that.

"Our neighbours on both sides have been great, letting us share electricity and water while we were rebuilding and bringing us coffee and sausages to keep us going.

"It's really nice being back and the whole family slept very well on Saturday night.

"It was hard when we were building because I kept picturing the old house, but the new one is lovely.

"We're not going to look back anymore at what we've lost."


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