Renovation gurus and The Block alumni Dan Reilly and Dani Wales have again proven that hard work, smart planning, and savvy buying are key to property renovation success. Their latest project, a double fronted Victorian in Seddon, was purchased for $462,000 in 2013. Three years later after an extensive renovation the property was sold for $1,300,000. So how did they achieve such a superb result?
Dani speaks about the experience buying the home, and what buyers need to do if they are looking to renovate.
Dan and Dani had very specific criteria when they began looking for their next renovation project, way back in 2013. They ideally wanted a freestanding, double fronted period home in desperate need of a renovation and that could one day accommodate a family.
They chose to look in the western suburbs of Melbourne, where there was a good choice of stock to fit their criteria and at more affordable prices.
The Sydenham street property initially wasn’t the couples preferred purchase. Although it fit almost all of their criteria, they believed a better option would be on the market. They found what they were looking for in a dilapidated double fronted home in nearby Kingsville. Unfortunately, they were out bid at auction.
Incredibly, they found that the Sydenham street property was still on the market.
“It had hung around for months” said Dani. “I couldn’t believe that it had still not found a buyer when we decided to go after it.”
Dan and Dani bit the bullet and put forward a price. Unfortunately, they received no response from the agent.
At this point they decided to engage Buyer Agent, Antony Bucello from National Property Buyers on an Assess and Negotiate service to assist in getting the property off the market.
Antony provided a comprehensive assessment of the property and helped the couple formulate a revised offer, one they were confident would secure them the property. The key to this negotiation was to submit an offer attractive enough to secure the property, but not pay too much and eat into the renovation budget.
Said Dani in her blog, Basic Habitat: “were worried about outlaying too much money on a property that wasn’t even liveable at the time. However, with the knowledge from our Buyer’s Agent coupled with the reporting on the area, those concerns were eased.”
“Our Buyers Advocate had access to data and reports that we didn’t, and after perusing a mountain of information we were confident that if we increased our purchase budget a little further that we would still be able to execute the build within our overall budget.”
Thankfully, Antony was able to negotiate the purchase and Dan and Dani set to work.
And work they did. The property only had two front rooms at the commencement of the renovation and there were no walls or ceiling. The house is now a stunning three bedroom, two storey family home.
“We wanted to really maximise the space and liveability” said Dani. “Putting a second storey on was a gamble, but it definitely paid off.”
The house has undergone a superb resurrection with “great storage and entertaining spaces” throughout. The decisions made and the work put in were vindicated when a superb sale result was achieved after the couple reluctantly decided to sell the property.
For buyers wanting to do something similar, they should be warned: buying a property to renovate and potentially sell requires and enormous amount of planning and hard work.
Thankfully, an experienced hand like Dani has come key advice.
The most important thing is to thoroughly research the area you are thinking of buying in. While this seems obvious, you can never do too much, according to Dani.
“You need to research the area, but you really need to look closely at the actual location you want to buy in.”
“Spend time in the area, drive through the streets. We spent a lot of time doing this to get a real feel for the location”.
Buyers need to view the area from the perspective that someone will be living there for a long period of time; be aware of not only amenities, but the street scape, traffic – essentially everything.
This also extends to finding and choosing a builder, which is “one of the most important things” in any renovation said Dani.
“Finding the right builder, one that you can form a strong relationship with, is really important. You want to feel comfortable to be able to ask them anything.”
“Do your research and take your time to find the best one for you. Read reviews, ask family and friends. Don’t rush to the first option.”
Budget is the next big thing. As any renovator, or fan of renovating shows on television will know, having a realistic budget and sticking to it is vital. Not having enough allocated in reserve is where many renovators can come unstuck.
“You do need to be realistic and be prepared with your budget” says Dani. “You need at least 5% on top of your estimated construction budget for contingencies.”
Having an additional 5% on top of your base budget allocated for emergencies might seem significant, but not when you come across any nasty surprises – which is almost certain to happen.
Finally, Plan everything. “Absolutely everything” says Dani.
“You need to be 100% sure of every element. Layout, fixtures, fittings, even any furniture you intend on putting into the property once completed. Everything. And you need to be making those decisions at the start and sticking to them.”
Deciding on exactly what the end result will be may seem like a daunting task initially, but it will pay off later on.
“Knowing every aspect of your renovation before you actually begin helps enormously when it comes to budgeting, and even just getting through any hiccups that may arise” says Dani. “You know how much you can spend, and how much you may have up your sleeve, and can plan accordingly.”
“Being as organised as you can at the very beginning means less delays and less stress during construction. And hell, you may actually even enjoy the process.”
It’s this level of planning and extensive research with property experts and tradesman that will put renovators in the best position. Always speak to a property expert before making a decision on what to purchase.