Monday, February 15, 2016

Buying to Renovate? What Will Cost You More Than You Think

Guest post by: Dana and Kim Davies; Action Property Inspections

With our house renovation happily behind us, I am almost tempted to do it all again :)  I really loved the process of renovating, the design, the planning, the sourcing of products and then actually working with the builders. We won't actually do it again for quite some time as I think Phil might divorce me if I even suggest it but I thought I'd bring you some posts that are helpful to those of you who are looking at renovating their family home or buying to renovate. 

Let me introduce Dana and Kim Davies from Action Properties Inspections in Brisbane.

Buying to Renovate? What Will Cost You More Than You Think

It’s often said that you can’t go wrong if you buy the worst house on the best street. It’s easy to be sucked into believing that a re-imagination of the floor plan, an extension or a fresh coat of paint is all it takes to transform your bargain basement buy into a dazzling showstopper, the envy of your friends.

Yes, buying a little fixer-upper is a great way to get your foot in the door of the property market or into the suburb of your dreams. The unfortunate reality is that you might not ever get to realise what you see as the immense potential of your purchase. Failing to navigate the minefield that is buying to renovate will see you quickly get out of your depth and straying far beyond your budget. Here’s our take on the most common mistakes you can make when buying to renovate.

Not understanding your limitations

In an ideal world, the sky would be the limit when it comes to buying to renovate. The reality that you don’t have the unfettered ability to renovate your property exactly as you see fit.

There’s a complex network of building regulations, local council by-laws and overlays that can conspire against you to dictate exactly what you can and can’t do with your property. For example, a historical overlay might mean that you can’t alter the external appearance of your property by putting in new windows to take advantage of natural light. A covenant can stop you subdividing and putting two dwellings on the one block. That tree you plan to remove to make way for an extension or a pool might have had the benefit of council protection for decades and will only be covered by a specialist allotment inspection. It can take years of experience and know-how to get your head around these limitations. Recognising when they’re on a collision course with the vision you have for the property is crucial. It’s the key to avoiding the unnecessary heartache, disappointment and financial cost of having to shelve your precious plans and settle for something less than what you hoped for.

Not knowing the difference between a fixer-upper and a common, garden-variety dump

Some properties are just not worth the blood, sweat and tears of a renovation. Knowing the difference between something that can feasibly be renovated and something that’s only worth the land it’s sitting on (less demolition costs) is the difference between an amateur and an experienced renovator. The worst bit is that it’s not just the obvious stuff that will bring you undone. It’s the hidden structural issues, the termite damage you can’t see, the subsidence, the roof on the verge of collapse and the leaky pipes that are a ticking time bomb when it comes to buying to renovate. In most cases, only a professional can recognise the signs of serious underlying issues and alert you to their existence before you sign on the dotted line and commit to buying a dump.

Not having realistic plans for your renovation

Your plans may look great on paper, but they might not suit the property that you’re buying to renovate. That wall you plan to knock down to open up the living spaces might actually be supporting most of the weight of the roof. That bit of land in the sideway might house an easement you can’t build on. You might want to add on a first floor extension but soil tests show you’re sitting on reactive clay or and your property’s existing structure might not be able to withstand the additional weight. The unforeseen costs of bringing your home structurally up to speed might be such that it’s either impossible or just not financially viable. It’s all well and good to dream big, but your dreams have to be firmly rooted in the reality of your property, the materials from which it’s been constructed and the manner in which it’s been built. An experienced professional can give you advice on the options for renovating your property and can suggest alternative pathways when your plans hit a speed hump.

Not recognising the hidden dangers of renovation

It’s a tragic fact of life that DIY renovators are fast falling victim to asbestosis, mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancers. Asbestos is commonly found in homes all over Australia. It takes on many forms and a multitude of different appearances. Knowing that the property you’re looking at buying to renovate contains asbestos is a crucial safeguard protecting you, your loved ones and your tradespeople from potentially deadly exposure during a renovation. Being able to pinpoint the location and quantity of asbestos in a property is also relevant to issues of just how hard it’s going to hit your hip pocket to have it removed.

Buying to renovate? Knowing when to call in the professionals

If you’ve got a property in your sights and plan to embark on the roller coaster ride that is buying to renovate, your first move should be to pick up the phone and call for an expert opinion on the feasibility of your plans before you rush into a purchase. Choosing the right building and pest inspector makes a massive difference. Choose an inspector familiar with renovation challenges and plenty of experience in the industry.

Contribution by Andrew from Action Property Inspections in Brisbane. Our professional building inspectors are experts at assisting you to make an informed decision about a property that you’re thinking of buying to renovate. Contact Action Property Inspections today on 1800 642 465.

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