Good homes to renovate

A question I am often asked is “What style of home is easiest to renovate?” Naturally, there are exceptions to any rule, yet there are some basic things to consider if you are buying a home so that you will have the flexibility to renovate in the future if you wish to do so.

House styles such as Californian Bungalows, Edwardians or Victorians are generally quite easy to extend, as the entry hall is a good width (encouraging good front-to-back flow), the facades are pretty, the main front rooms are well proportioned and the ceilings heights are generous.

Styles such as Art Deco or 1960s/1970s can be great if you really love that style and they can have an amazing internal feel, yet I commonly find these homes can be problematic when it comes time to alter them. Often the front hall and front room sizes are small, the ceilings are low and the front-to-back path is tricky given the compartmentalisation of the rooms (ie central kitchens block the flow).  Many of the internal walls are brick and therefore loadbearing and harder to remove. Generally speaking, most people do not find these homes present attractively to the street either. These houses are often not covered by heritage overlays, as many councils have not deemed these styles worthy of heritage protection. So it may not be worth you investing huge capital in renovating such a house, as you are unlikely to recoup this money when re-selling.

Given renovation costs are not cheap, the simpler you can make changes the better.  You would not want to alter too much of the original home either, otherwise knocking down and building new may make more sense in terms of re-sale.

Other things to look out for:

  • Chimneys – too many chimneys can hamper furniture placement and limit the opportunity for upstairs extensions.
  • Simple rooflines. Houses with flat roofs at the rear are great, as there is a good chance you can remove this section without affecting the main part of the house.
  • Good side setbacks, allowing for future garaging or car access.

Naturally, any changes may be subject to council approval. The engagement of a good architect and/or town planner early on in the buying process really can make life so much easier later on.

plans to renovate[1]