What you should do before and during the buying of a renovator

By Amelia Lee

Are you in the market for a renovator home? If you are, here a few things you need to consider.

A renovator home is usually purchased for two key reasons – to turn into a forever home for the buyer or for the buyer to improve the home and resell for a profit.

Sometimes, it’s both.

What to consider when buying a renovator home

renovating an older home

When inspecting a home, you want to choose one that has potential to meet your goals while also being realistic about the future of the house.

You need to know what you can handle – how much time and money are you going to put into it? Are your goals achievable? How can you view the potential home beyond what it currently is?

You need to see past its current state – yellow carpet, bright blue bathrooms and holes in the walls. How do you buy a home that won’t turn out to be a lemon in the grand scheme of things?

These are all very valid concerns.

When it comes to looking for, inspecting and purchasing a renovation home, you need to have a checklist of things to inspect. Once you’ve checked off those items, use the assessment to determine what property to buy – this goes for any kind of home you decide to purchase (something for yourself or to renovate and sell).

What do you need to know before your first visit? Ask yourself these questions.

What do you want from the home? 

When it comes to buying, you have to know what you want from the purchase. Why are you buying this home? Is it something you will buy and live in or do you want to use it as an investment to sell in the future?

After you’ve figured out your “why”, you need to divide it into a criteria. Why does the “why” matter to you? Will it impact the price, style or the location? You also need to focus on the time it takes to renovate and how much money it will take to bring your idea to fruition.

Answering these questions will help you determine whether a home you’re looking at purchasing ticks all or some of your boxes, and whether or not that matters.

As you look for a home, you may discover most houses don’t meet all of your criteria. This is fine, as it will help you to find the hidden gems. You can weigh the pros and cons, and decide which one to put an offer on, depending on what’s most important to you.

What is the orientation of the home?

designing a home's layout

This is not about the direction to the street but the direction its living spaces face. For example, does the home have a great orientation to the garden outside and have a big backyard? Most homeowners want a living space that is bathed in natural light, as well as warm in winter and cool in summer. When a home suits its orientation, this is what makes this happen.

The back of a home should face either north, east or northeast. If the direction is elsewhere, you’ll have to come up with a design that works with a more challenging orientation. This can be difficult and expensive to achieve, and often agents will advise people against buying a home that has its rear or living areas facing south.

You can make use of the home’s views during the renovation process so don’t be put off by a ‘bad’ orientation. It’s about what you can do with that orientation that matters.

What don’t I know about this home?

You want to learn as much as you can about a home before you buy it. Therefore, you need to do some research and find out what you can. Most information can be found online by searching the property address. Don’t skip this step as you might find that the home you’re looking at is heritage listed and has some hefty renovation protections on it.

If the home is a heritage property or located in a character area, you may be subject to certain guidelines on how the renovation goes. You may have to choose certain materials, looks and be limited in the amount of changes that can be made. You may even have to call in specialist consultants to help you here.

Will your renovation plans need to involve the council? Will they approve the renovation right away or will it need to be discussed during a meeting? Doing this research well before you think about purchasing the house will end up saving you a lot of time and money.

Try to find out what previous owners had to do. Did they submit any approvals and were they given the go-ahead? When you buy a home that hasn’t been approved for upgrades, you may find yourself dealing with a headache you really don’t want. If you notice a former owner’s approval has been rejected, you could be facing an uphill battle for your own plans for the home.

What are similar properties like in that area?

Remember, a home is a person’s biggest asset, which is why the money you put into it needs to be regarded as an investment with some type of return – be it lifestyle, monetary gain or both. No matter where you are buying the home, see what the area is like – what are renovated and un-renovated homes selling for?

Talk to local agents and do in-depth research. By doing this, you’ll have more confidence in your potential purchase because you know what the market value is for the home.

Read more: How do you know if a suburb is booming? It comes down to these 5 indicators

When you’re inspecting a home

Here’s something to bear in mind when buying a home. Most people inspect houses with one view range – between their ears and knees - which means important issues get overlooked.

When you look at a house, you need to go beyond that view to other areas. You need to look at corners, ceilings, lighting, floors, inside cupboards and under the house. You should even look around the neighbourhood and at fence lines. Turn on lights, flush the toilets and climb up into the roof. You don’t want to purchase a house and realise too late that half the tiles on the roof need replacing.

In a perfect world, you’d inspect a property several times before purchasing but competition can mean you need to move fast. Be as thorough as you can to ensure you don’t wind up with a lemon.

Content supplied by Undercover Architect, your secret ally when it comes to unlocking what’s possible in your home. Get your free renovator inspection checklist.


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