We all like to put our own stamp on the home we buy. A bit of paint, new flooring or perhaps a kitchen make-over might be all that is needed to make your newly purchased house feel like home. But sometimes you stumble across the perfect renovator’s delight that is screaming out for a complete overhaul and before you know it, your mind has run away with all the possibilities!
So what’s the next step? You’ve lined up your mortgage, your family and friends have given the tick of approval on your prospective new home and the building and pest inspection is underway. With your mind excitedly racing full of renovation / extension ideas, I would suggest you take a breath and stop…there’s something else I think you should consider before you sign on the dotted line and start drawing up plans. Invest in an initial consultation with a respected architect that specialises in home renovations.
The best laid plans can sometimes go astray when you don’t have all the information. A building and pest inspection can highlight issues such as termite infestations, dodgy wiring or structural integrity problems but it is generally a report on the condition of the building and what expenses you may be up for to fix them. It certainly does not take into consideration any grand renovation plans you might have and whether they are achievable.
Consider the following scenario. The building and pest inspection gives the all-clear so you start making plans to expand the living space by moving a couple of walls. Rough plans are drawn up, you pay that bill and then your architect and building engineer pay you a visit. And this is where things go pear-shaped. The walls can’t be moved because they are load bearing and the renovation as planned can’t go ahead without significant changes…cue the sound of money going down the drain.
This pain can be avoided simply by bringing in an architect, building engineer or builder before purchasing the house. They can quickly advise whether your renovation plans are feasible, how much time they may take and a rough estimate for the work. And many professionals are happy to do this for free or for a minimal charge. If you don’t have one of these professionals already lined up, then call in a builder mate or someone with renovation experience as they will be able to give you some idea of what will and won’t work.*
I have heard so many horror stories from clients who’ve purchased a house with potential only to find that what they wanted to do can’t be achieved within their budget or council guidelines. Some clients have purchased older homes containing asbestos with its removal adding significant cost to their renovation budget while others have purchased culturally sensitive homes only to find they can’t undertake the desired alterations without a time consuming community input process. To say they were disappointed is an understatement.
Have you ever been caught out with purchasing a property only to have your plans thwarted? What advice would you give to prospective home buyers keen on making their mark?
As an architect, my goal is to make my clients’ dreams a reality and see them enjoying their perfect home. Consulting with a team of professionals about your renovation plans before signing the contract to purchase a property can help avoid the downfalls I’ve mentioned. It could certainly save you money in the long run and the heartache that goes with being told no.
*Also known as ‘pre-purchase building design consultation’.