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  • narelle000

What to look for in a fixer upper

Fixer uppers aren't for the faint hearted.

Kind of like parenting ;).

They can be a slow burn, it's sometimes hard to see progress but it's extremely rewarding for most.

We've done six projects of varying sizes, from small bathroom/kitchen updates to a full new build.

Victoria, like most Australian states, has a beautiful array of period homes and we love them!

But they're not all created equal.

Here's what to look for in a fixer upper.


Since reality TV shows like The Block came along, more and more people want to take on a reno.

I talk to people who are tossing up renovating their homes or buying a new one.

They're not happy in their house and often reference pinterest boards full of stunning images.

Sometimes the homes in those images have bones nothing like theirs.

We'd love something like this, they say as my heart sinks, knowing their home's structure would never let them achieve it.

Ceiling heights and orientation are usually the culprits.

In those cases, you can spend a fortune and yet still end up with something that isn't what you wanted. You'll likely be happier moving to a place with better bones to build on.

Good bones means generous rooms, high ceilings and an abundance of natural light.

Walk past poky and dingy.

Floor plans

Substantial reconfiguration of floorplans is costly and if you can avoid it, you should.

Bedrooms should be close to bathrooms and dining areas close to the kitchen.

For family living, it's best the living room is also close to the kitchen/dining.

The living areas should benefit from the most natural light.


Here's where it gets interesting.

A real diamond in the rough can almost need rebuilding. Stumps, weatherboards, roofing, wiring, plastering, flooring. The works.

A building inspection is key to understand exactly what condition the building is in.

The idea is to avoid paying for things in good condition that you'll be demolishing in your reno.

For example, if you'll be blasting from the end of the hallway then you want everything after that point in the floorplan to be in the worst condition possible.

Of course if you need to live in it for a while first, the game changes and you need it to be in the worst condition you're willing to live which.

This might, of course, be excellent condition depending on your standards.

Many people can live with functional, but daggy ;)

Some goes if you'll be renting the property out for a while before you plan to renovate it (it would need to meet the minimum rental standards).

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Projects are risky and without adequate planning they can quickly become a nightmare of cost and timeline blowouts.

Like anything, you'll get out what you put in. So invest the time, energy and effort and you'll get a most wonderful return.

The above list can help to explain why homes in the worst condition but with the most potential sell for prices that seem counterintuitive compared to renovated homes.

When others see the potential in a quality blank canvas and are prepared to fight others to secure it this drives a higher purchase price.

This is great news for buyers who would rather stab their eyeballs than renovate because they benefit from the improvements by vendors past.

I'll save that for another blog about what to look for when buying a recently renovated home.

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