Toby Johnstone May 26, 2012
This worker's cottage now has three-bedrooms, three-bathrooms, double parking and is expected to sell for about $1.2 million.
Enterprising pair bet their updated cottage will be someone's favourite flavour.
Renovating for sale is a bit like picking an ice-cream flavour for someone you don't know. If you go with vanilla, they'll probably like it, but it's hardly exciting. If you go for a double fudge rocky road sundae, they might love it, but the chances are you'll spend too much and may still fail to impress.
In the renovation game, you need to create a property that is interesting enough to grab people's attention, but not so ''out there'' that you alienate half your potential buyers.
Nick Moore and his business partner, Tony Pantzouris, have tried to get this renovation balance right. Now they are betting that their flavour of renovation is worth about $1.2 million.
In terms of renovating for sale, it's rare to find a team more suited to the challenge. Pantzouris is a builder and Moore is in online sales, so between them they had a fair idea of what they were after in a property. What they found was a neglected three-bedroom worker's cottage in Alexandria. They managed to snag it at auction in 2010 ahead of two other bidders for $740,000.
According to Moore, the property was in quite a state. The kitchen was no more than an old oven and a pop-up sink placed in a thoroughfare nook. The back courtyard was a shambles of weeds and uneven concrete and one of the bedrooms was only 1.9 metres by 3.2 metres in size. To put that in perspective, a queen-size bed is about 1.7 metres by two metres.
However, the two buyers looked past all this. ''We saw the potential in it because you don't find a north-east facing, six-metre-wide terrace every day with two street frontages,'' Moore says.
A development application for a significant renovation was put through council with the previous owners in 2008. The estimated cost of the works was $400,000. Moore and Pantzouris amended the plans to suit their vision and changed the cost estimate. With Pantzouris's expertise as a builder (meaning reduced labour costs and know-how in terms of purchasing materials), the pair estimated it would cost about $300,000.
After 10 weeks they were given the green light by the council and set about gutting the property until all that remained were the internal walls and facade. From there the pair were able to make two key changes that are sure to add value. Going into the roof allowed them to increase the internal size of the property dramatically. Now there are two new bedrooms upstairs, both with large built-ins and en suites.
The other element that is sure to entice buyers is the addition of double parking at the back. They have put in a roller door for security but not a garage roof, so plenty of light still reaches the living space.
The final product is an enticing blend of new and old, modern comforts and colonial charms. In accordance with heritage regulations, the facade of the property is reminiscent of the Victorian aesthetic. The original lace and lattice work has been sandblasted and repainted.
On entry, the first thing that impresses is the feature wall in the hall and downstairs bedroom, framing the original brickwork as an ode to the old. The entry hall wall leads up to an elevated concrete slab that serves to bring together the modern open-plan living-dining and kitchen area.
The house is also decked out with all the mod cons: remote alarm, electric roller doors, a CaesarStone kitchen bench, gas cooktops and airconditioning.
According to Moore, the job required continual reflection on what someone else would want in a house. ''You aim to not try to do something that's vanilla; you want to produce something with a bit of an edge to it,'' he says.
''We put a lot of thought and effort into this and I think it shows in the end result.''
The only thing to do now is to wait until June 2 when the auction will be held on site at 60 Kingsclear Road. That's when Moore and Pantzouris will find out if their renovation is to a buyer's taste.
Time Seven months.
Land size 149 sq m.
Internal size 142 sq m.
Builder Linz Enterprises, 0411 807 735.
Moore says: ''I think the rear living area is probably my favourite: the open-plan moving to a small balcony on the side for indoor/outdoor entertaining.''
Moore says: ''The most important thing is research to really understand the area - what's been sold, what amounts things are selling for. Then using your foresight to know what the property is going to be worth once you've finished your project.''
What went right
The end product reflected the pair's initial vision.
What went wrong
The council had numerous conditions that had to be met for amended-DA approval.
Floor coverings $12,000
External rendering $13,000
Kitchen and joinery $30,000