ocal builder's renovation guide - know constraints of the block

A Local Builder’s Guide to Finding and Buying a House to Renovate

Want to buy a home you can renovate? No doubt, Australians love a good Renovator. A fixer-upper if you will. And it can be worthwhile doing. Whether you want to buy and renovate a home for your own family or you’re looking to buy and sell and make out like a bandit, there are definitely some opportunities to be had.

But (there’s always a but right?) The disclaimer is that you need to find the right property to give you the outcome you are after. Because if you don’t do your homework and understand what to look for, your renovation dream could be over well before it begins.

As a local builder who specialises in structural renovations, I have a few insights into what to look for and what to avoid when you’re looking for a home to buy and renovate. So, from a local builder’s perspective, these are the top things you should consider when looking to purchase a house to renovate.

local builders renovation guide - Start with end in mind

Start with the End in Mind

This is one of the most important elements to finding the right house to renovate. Before you can know what to look for you need to know what your outcome is going to be.

Do you want to buy a house that you can alter to suit your family requirements? A house that you can turn into your dream home and create memories for a long time to come? Or are you looking for a fixer-upper that you can buy, renovate and on-sell?

Knowing what you want to achieve is the very first step to finding the right property.

Why is this so important? Well, it is going to determine what elements of the home that you need to look for.

For example, if you are looking to buy, renovate and sell, then you will need to research the demographics of the local area and renovate the home to suit the market. What are people looking for? Is it predominantly a young family suburb that is looking for larger homes with good-sized yards? Or is it older couples with grown children who value quality finishes over size and space?

If you are buying to renovate the home to live in yourself, then you need to find a property that is simply going to meet your requirements. This could be anything from having enough space to extend the home out the back or having a good, adaptable floor plan that you can reconfigure to suit your requirements.

Until you know what you want to achieve, you won’t know what you’re looking for.

local builders renovation guide-good location

Find the Right Location

There’s a lot to be said for buying the worst house in the best street. Location is everything and can really make a difference when seeking out a renovator.

Whether it’s near the shops, schools and public transport. Or has the potential for amazing views. Or it’s simply in an area you love. The location can make a huge difference to the outcome of your renovated home.

Oftentimes you can find houses in older more established suburbs that are close to amenities, within the zoning of good schools and can even have larger blocks. Getting to know the area that you want to buy in can help you assess individual properties for their suitability as a potential renovator.

And while we are on the subject of location, consider the location of the house in the street as well as the location within the community. A corner block may give you an advantage for example. Or being located on one side of the street could mean better views or simply a completely different experience than the other side.

Speaking to local builders about your renovation plans and what you are looking for ultimately, can be a great way to get a feel for areas you should be targeting. Not only do local builders know the local area well, but they usually have insights about zonings, block constraints and other requirements that can be highly beneficial when seeking out a house to renovate or extend.

Local builders guide to renovating - good bones

Look for Good Bones

Good bones, definitely something to look at closely when inspecting homes for renovation potential.

And I’m not talking skeletons in the closet or lamb shanks buried in the backyard, long forgotten by the family pet. I’m talking about the structure of the house and all the major components of the home that would be hard to change in the process of a renovation.

Good bones takes into account the following elements:

  • A structurally sound foundation and frame (the frame you intend on keeping anyway)
  • Good orientation
  • A good block – both in size and shape
  • No signs of soil movement or ground subsidence
  • Beautiful character features that you can retain and incorporate within the new construction


Of course, how good you want the ‘bones’ to be will depend on how much renovating you want to do and what plans you have for the property.

And again, here is where local builders are a wealth of knowledge and information. Through a site consultation, an expert renovation builder can give you feedback on the condition and quality of the home and what can be achieved with a renovation going forward.

This is also a good time to remind you to look beyond the cosmetic appearance and household items… 70s kitchen, 80s tile choices, bright green carpet and teapot collections. Not many people can see past the bad decor and household clutter. But if you are looking for a renovator, you should be ignoring all these things and looking at the structure of the home and the features that can either be an advantage or disadvantage.

local builders renovation guide - know constraints of the block

Know the Constraints of the Property

Knowing the constraints of the property is very important when it comes to renovating. Particularly structural renovations, additions and extensions. It’s all well and good to buy a property that you think will be easy to extend out the back. But unless you’ve done your homework and looked at what you are actually buying even the grandest of plans may end up being nothing more than a pipe dream.

Land restrictions such as site cover constraints and easements are just two things that can limit what you can do with a property. And things like these can help you decide what properties are going to work for what you want to achieve and what properties are not. And it’s better to find these things out before you buy the property and not after.

The best place to find out all this information is to speak to your local council or town planner. But local builders who have worked in the area for many years will have good insight into what can be achieved on properties in the area.

local builders guide to finding a home to renovate

Local Builders Are a Wealth of Knowledge When it Comes to Renovations

Local builders can give you a significant amount of insight into all the areas we’ve covered above and a whole lot more. We can not only share our advice, experience and local area knowledge, we can also give you tips and ideas into what we have found can give you more bang for your buck when renovating or adding home additions.

For anyone looking to buy a house to renovate or have already purchased a house and need advice going forward, I highly recommend you book in for a renovation consultation. The small price you pay to have an onsite consultation can save you thousands of dollars in the long run and save you from making critical renovation mistakes.

Want to book in for a renovation consultation?  Send through a message or give us a call on 07 4960 9894 and let’s talk.

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