Recently, we caught up with a lovely young family in their beautifully built home and chatted to them about how they found the process from auction to move in.
Who Lives Here: A professional young couple, their gorgeous (nearly two-year-old) daughter and their character plus cat.
House Style: Semi-detached, newly built home.
Location: Inner-Eastern Suburb of Melbourne.
- Let’s start from the beginning, how long ago did you purchase this property?
We purchased the property at auction in 2008.
- You purchased it at auction, had you been looking for a property for a while?
We had been looking for a few months prior, however somewhat casually, waiting for something that caught our eye in the area we wanted to live in. We had been living in our apartment at the time and wanted to progress to a house on a parcel of land in the inner city east; either semi-detached or stand alone. We had been to several auctions prior however this was one of the first we actively bid at. We were not daunted by auctions as we had attended many prior. This was also not the first property that we had purchased. The previous two had been private sale.
- Were you originally looking for a property to renovate or was this just an opportunity that you couldn't turn down?
We were open to renovating although we didn't have a concrete plan. We assessed each property we looked at individually. Ultimately, we knew we wanted to remain living in the inner city and therefore we were open to looking at properties which were perhaps more unique or challenging (e.g we had looked at warehouses, properties in semi-industrial zones, unusual block shapes).
- What was your motivation for renovating?
Whilst we wanted to add value to this property for an investment, this was ultimately built as our home. We wanted to create a space that could accommodate a family and where we could comfortably live for at least the next 5-10 years.
- Had you lived in the property before you renovated? If so, would you recommend this?
We lived in the property in the original condition for approximately 15 months. This was while we devised plans and sought council approval. As this is usually quite a lengthy process I would recommend it to other individuals; or rent out the property to assist with cash flow. Living in the property while seeking council approval is beneficial as there are often some minor renovations you can do which don’t require a council permit.
- Tell us about the process you went through with regards to when you first decided to renovate.
We browsed real estate websites and we did quite a lot of research on different products. We also visited display homes which was helpful. We often spent our weekends attending OFIs (open for inspections) in our local areas to get a feel of what we liked.
- Did you employ an architect or drafts-person?
We employed an architect who we knew. Given the challenges of the block size we knew that we needed professional help to maximize the potential of the block. We found the process easy and rewarding, and we felt that the architect listened to us and tried to devise something which fitted our needs and wants. The plan was largely my husband’s whilst the architect assisted with giving us options of how our plan might work in reality.
- What about council permits? What was involved in this and did you encounter any problems others could learn from?
We live in a street with a heritage overlay and therefore the council process was very lengthy and complicated. It required a lot of time, effort and attention to detail. It also required patience, and we learnt that just because they knock you back on your first submission it doesn't mean that it’s over. We had to resubmit several times, which was frustrating. What we eventually built was quite different to our initial submission; however nonetheless we were very happy with the final plan.
- So the build started, did you live in the house whilst the renovation was going on?
We levelled the house to just a concrete slab so we moved out!
- How long did the renovation take? Did you have a builder? Did you do any work yourself? Were there any major problems encountered?
We moved out on New Years Day and we moved back in to a completely finished home in late August of the same year so, the process took approximately 8 months and that included the time it took to demolish the house to begin with. At the time, it felt quite stressful; but looking back our build went relatively smoothly and was done in quite a timely manner. This was mainly due to my husband project managing the build. He was very organised and really assisted to co-ordinate trades and keep the build on track of schedule. He was able to do this while still maintaining his regular full-time job even though it was a full-time job in itself at times! We employed a builder and there were a few issues along the way due to boundary fence lines however, we were able to resolve these issues. We also tried to do as much of the work ourselves as possible. For example, the council required us to re-use the original bricks of the house, and therefore we needed to scrape paint off approximately 3000 bricks. This we did ourselves as much as possible to keep costs down.
- How did you work out your budget – any tips for would be builder/renovators?
We went slightly over budget although this was only fairly minor. Our recommendations would be to have regular updates from your builder and ask questions about any discrepancies. A building contract is also valuable.
- When it came to selecting your finishes (flooring, benchtops, fixtures, paint colours etc) did you involve a professional to assist?
We did not employ a professional however, we did research extensively the products which were important to us. We were quite fussy when it came to windows, roof tiles, benchtops and floorboards.
- What do you love most about your home?
We love that it is contemporary, low maintenance, and that we thought out aspects such as storage and maximising the usable area before we built. We are pleased that we spent extra on items that will wear-well and be low maintenance. An example of this is our windows which look timber to fit in with the style of the house and the general streetscape; however they are actually made of PVC (PVC Windows Australia). These have worn wonderfully compared to actual timber with no fading or weather damage. These were more expensive than timber however have been a worthwhile investment.
- If you had your time again, would you change anything about the home?
We really feel proud of what we were able to build, given the block size. I really don’t think that any other design would have been able to give us a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom with a single car garage, courtyard, roof terrace and usable front yard on 170 sq metres.
- Would you renovate again?
Yes we would renovate again; and we have purchased several properties since which we have built or renovated.
- What advice would you give someone thinking of building/renovating?
Renovating is often like running a marathon, it requires endurance! It also requires patience and flexibility as even the best laid plans will have challenges. Your budget needs to allow for the unpredictable – the things that cost more than you thought, take longer than expected or are difficult to source. If you do your planning and research then it can be a very rewarding experience. We also recommend to take on some of the project management if that is at all possible.
The Team at RenoExchange would like to thank the owners for their generous time and allowing us a sneak-peek into their beautiful family home.
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