Home Real Estate How to rescue a renovation gone bad

How to rescue a renovation gone bad

And what to look for when buying or renovating.

Azal Khan

Digital Journalist, Your Money

Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a renovation to create your dream bathroom or kitchen, only to discover the sub-structure is failing and all that work has gone to waste.

A renovation gone wrong can cost thousands if you get carried away with the aesthetics first rather than focusing on the integrity of the structure.

Architect Leon Moulton has turned around renovations gone wrong to create stunning homes and shared his advice with Auction Day.

Moulton has seen plenty of renovation disasters in his time, with some common recurring factors in all of them.

“People buy a property and if they haven’t had the expert advice, they might not be aware of the issues the property had.

“So you have to go backwards to go forward. So you have to take out the marvellous kitchen or bathroom.”

“You discover the substructure was never addressed, you discover the piping was never addressed. It’s just new appliances fitted on or fitted off,” Moulton said.

Before buying a property or commencing a renovation, look for warning signs like termites, rising damp, failing substructure, water hammer, structurally unsafe balconies or toxic mould.

It’s these things that often get missed easily.

“People when they are looking at a property often don’t see these things. They are looking at the furniture and styling of the house.

“They are not actually looking at what’s important, the substructure and the content of the building and the issues that can cause lots and lots of money when commencing a renovation,” he said.

The cost can vary depending on the damage.

Mould, for example, can be more localised in areas like the bathroom where pipes have been leaking, or can be spread throughout the property if there is rising damp in the whole floor.

If it’s the latter, a rotten sub floor and stumps can require underpinning, which Moulton says can set you back between $50,000 – $100,000.

Most of these renovation disasters can be detected by a professional from a visual inspection before commencing any renovation project or before purchasing the property.

A Prahran renovation disaster to beautiful home

Moulton and his team rescued a reno disaster in the inner Melbourne suburb of Prahran and created a serene inner-city oasis for the owners.

The property had a thorough inspection before purchasing and found the renovations in the interior during the 1960s were now falling apart.

Before the property was renovated.

It had many of the hallmarks typical of 100-year-old properties, Moulton says.

“This one in particular had vinyl cladding put over the exterior, which creates rut to the sub structure.

“It had other things like failing sub floor and termite damage which had to be renovated.

“It had pipes that had been installed from kitchens in the 60’s and bathrooms that needed obvious reworking.

A two-storey extension was added to the back of the house plus  internal refurbishment of one of the bathrooms and the kitchen.

A large open-plan glass room was created plus more separate living spaces.

Phasing the projects in different stages allowed the owners to live in the property while renovating, which helped in terms of cash flow.

“When people are purchasing a property, one of the disasters they may come across is not having enough cash flow in place where they do need two places to live in at the same time.

“If you look at it in a way of phasing you can create a very liveable place in a shorter period of time within your funds, then look at a master plan which allows you to look at the longer vision,” Moulton advised.

The original property cost $800,000 and the owners spent $600,0000 in renovations. It sold for over $2 million, making a tidy profit for the owners.

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