Buying a Property to Renovate: What You Need to Consider

Discover the key considerations for buying and renovating a property, from assessing potential and budgeting to navigating regulations and securing financing. Learn how to make your renovation a success.

Buying a property with the intention to renovate can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Not only do you get to create a space that truly reflects your style and living requirements, but you also have the opportunity to add more value to the property - potentially making it a win-win!

That said, purchasing a property to renovate doesn’t come without challenges. If you’re planning on buying a fixer-upper, here are some key points to bear in mind before you get to work.

1. Assess the Property’s Potential

Before diving into a renovation project, you’ll want to assess if the property has the potential to meet your goals. Consider factors like:

  • Structural integrity: Ensure the property is structurally sound, as significant structural issues can be costly to fix and might not be worth the investment.
  • Layout and space: Can the existing layout be adapted to meet your needs or will it require extensive changes?
  • Heritage listings: Check if the property is heritage-listed, as this can limit the changes you’re permitted to make.
  • Natural light and ventilation: Evaluate the amount of natural light and ventilation, as these aspects can impact the livability of the home.

2. Budget Accordingly for Renovation

Every successful renovation project starts with a clear budget. Be sure to plan for:

  • All renovation costs: Build a realistic estimate of all the costs involved in your renovation, including materials, labour, and any professional fees.
  • Contingency fund: Set aside a contingency fund for unforeseen expenses. Ideally, this should be 10-20% of the budget.
  • Future value: Consider the potential value of the property post-renovation, especially if you plan to sell or refinance.
  • Long-term maintenance: Factor in the long-term maintenance costs of any major changes or additions.

3. Check Local Council Regulations

Rules and regulations set by your local council can have a big impact on your renovation plans. You’ll need to look into:

  • Building permits: Identify which renovations require council approval or building permits.
  • Council restrictions: Be aware of any local council restrictions, such as building height limits or restrictions on certain types of developments.
  • Neighbourhood character: Consider the character of the neighbourhood and whether your renovation plans will align with it.
  • Environmental regulations: Check for any environmental regulations or requirements, especially if your property is in a sensitive area.

4. Evaluate Location and Market Trends

The location of your property is a key factor in its future value. When considering a property to renovate, think about:

  • Area desirability: Choose a location that is desirable or up-and-coming to maximise your investment.
  • Local amenities: Proximity to amenities like schools, shops, and public transport can positively impact the property’s value.
  • Market trends: Keep an eye on market trends in the area to gauge potential future value.
  • Resale potential: Consider the resale potential of the property in its renovated state, especially in the current market.

5. Secure the Right Financing

When planning a renovation project, the right financing is crucial. Be sure to consider the following:

  • Loan type: Whether it’s a traditional mortgage, construction loan, or a loan designed specifically for renovations, consider the most suitable loan type for your project.
  • Interest rates and terms: Research the best interest rates and terms to select a loan that suits your financial situation.
  • Access to funds: Ensure you have access to funds when needed, especially if you’re embarking on a large project that requires staged payments.
  • Loan features: Look for features like redraw facilities or offset accounts that can be beneficial during the renovation process.

6. Call in the professionals

A renovation project is only as good as the people working on it - so hiring the right professionals can make all the difference. During your renovation project, you may need to work with:

  • Architects and designers: For extensive renovations, hiring professional architects and designers can help to maximise the space and aesthetic appeal of the finished property.
  • Tradespeople: Always make sure you hire licensed and experienced tradespeople with a good reputation.
  • Building inspectors: A building inspector can help identify any potential issues before you purchase the property.
  • Project manager: If the renovation is complex or requires coordination of multiple trades, hiring a project manager may be beneficial.

7. Think about your living arrangements

Planning to live in the property while the renovations are taking place? While this is an option, you’ll need to consider:

  • Safety implications: Living in a renovation zone can sometimes be unsafe, especially for families with young children.
  • Alternative accommodation: It’s a good idea to budget for alternative accommodation if the property becomes uninhabitable during renovations.
  • Disruption to your life: Consider how the renovation will impact your daily routine and plan accordingly for minimal disruption.

8. Be mindful of your personal investment

Renovating a property requires a significant investment of time and energy. Before starting your renovations, think about the personal impact the project will have on you, such as:

  • Your own involvement: While you may want to put your DIY skills to good use, be realistic about what you can take on yourself and what’s best left to the professionals.
  • Time investment: Consider the time requirements of your renovation project and whether you can balance it with your other commitments.
  • Stress management: Renovations can be stressful! Be prepared for mental challenges and have a plan for reducing stress during your project.

With the right level of preparation and forward planning, renovating a property can be a worthy and beneficial endeavour. By considering all the factors involved with buying a property to renovate, you can successfully turn your fixer-upper into your ultimate dream home.

Keen to learn more about the home-buying process? Check out our other articles and stay in the know about all things home loans.

This article is intended to provide general information only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Please consider seeking financial advice before making any decision based on this information.‍

Unloan is a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Applications are subject to credit approval; satisfactory security and you must have a minimum 20% equity in the property. Minimum loan amount $10,000, maximum loan amount $10,000,000. 

Unloan offers a 0.01% per annum discount on the Unloan Live-In rate or Unloan Invest rate upon settlement. On each anniversary of your loan’s settlement date (or the day prior to the anniversary of your loan’s settlement date if your loan settled on 29th February and it is a leap year) the margin discount will increase by a further 0.01% per annum up to a maximum discount of 0.30% per annum. Unloan may withdraw this discount at any time. The discount is applied for each loan you have with Unloan.

There are no fees from Unloan. However, there are some mandatory Government costs depending on your state when switching your home loan. For convenience, Unloan adds this amount to the loan balance on settlement.

* Other third-party fees may apply. Government charges may apply. Your other lender may charge an exit fee when refinancing.

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