Short term renovating prior to demolition


My new purchase is a 60 year old 3 x1 weatherboard with brick veneer renovator which will be demolished in around 2 or 3 years time for future development.

In undertaking a cosmetic renovation for a short time period I needed to consider what works would give me more ‘bang for my buck’ in attracting tenants. The house will be demolished after that time and none of the fittings will be retained and as such I didn’t want to be spending unnecessarily. I did however  want to provide a nice tidy home for people moving in and be able to achieve the best rent possible.

The house and fittings were too old to consider a ‘Scrapping’ report which is where I can claim the cost of residual depreciation for items prior to replacing them with new.  Once renovations were complete I organised a depreciation report to claim the new items cost over the required period of time. Prior to demolition I will get a Scrapping Report completed to claim the remaining costs in one go.

With a smallish budget I looked for areas to save however with no time on my hands to paint the house myself I did opt to splurge and get a painter and a handyman in. I found that using a handyman for works not requiring a tradies expertise saved me in the long run. Such things as replacing a vanity and taps where the plumbing stayed in the same spot. I do not have the experience to do this myself and often the tools required to set yourself up would outweigh the costs of having someone do this for you as a one off. Of course if you can utilise the learned skills and tools for future renovations, the cost may be worth it.

The lounge room has a fully functioning log fire with a dated brick surround. I painted the brick surround the same colour as the kitchen cupboards to bring the feature colour throughout the house. I also painted the outside of the front door the same colour. l painted the wooden mantle in the same colour as the door trims to make it stand out more.

The light fittings were hanging orange glass shades. When a lighting shop had a sale recently I purchased cheap but trendy hanging light fixtures which would lift the look at an affordable price. With wooden floors and a neutral paintjob (Taubmans Pebble Bay ¼  strength) the light fixtures, as well as new vertical blinds really made the lounge room a desirable place to spend time.

I discovered you can gloss paint ceiling fans which I had previously always replaced with stainless steel, and painting the dark brown ones white was a perfect compromise to keep the costs of purchasing them (then paying for an electrician to install) to a minimum.


The kitchen cupboards were old laminate with a wood trim. I considered having these recoated due to the cost of replacement and found it was much cheaper for the painter to spray both the cupboards and benchtops with the appropriate products and get my handyman to put in a new tile splashback. I had a mix of tiles from previous renovations which worked out perfectly. I looked for area’s to add a trendy beach feel and found a great lino which sits directly on top of the old which was still in good condition but very dated. I was concerned at the effort required to pull up 40 year old flooring having been there before and this was the perfect solution for a quick ‘tart up’. There was no cost difference in having the ‘fishermans wood look’ vinyl boards and the outcome was very effective for a beach shack (though not to everyone’s taste).


I peeled off many years of layered vinyl wall coating (similar to lino with paper backing) which took two of us (yes my wonderful assistant  mother was on this job too) four hours to do and ‘tub and tile’ painted the existing vanity. It was a strong old school vanity which looks great renovated rather than replaced with a cheaper version.

The dodgy old vanity was replaced with a new off the shelf model and shower floor retiled, along with a new shower screen and tapware. The difference with a new paint job was substantial as was regrouting the shower and adding a few finishing touches and new lighting.


External works were quite extensive, an old metal awning was removed, as was one of three sheds which opened up the view down to the ocean. 


There was asbestos fencing which needed to be professionally removed and colourbond fencing put up. As there was a mish mash of fencing, the existing green colourbond was spraypainted by the fencing contractor to match the new. 


We painted the outside gutters and eaves and my gardener mum tarted up the garden with plants from home and from swap meet. 

The budget was originally $10,000 but there was cost overrun by half for the trades’ and a full mortgage payment which I hadn’t originally budgeted for. Counting on a rental increase of $50 per week after the renovation, depreciation on the new assets and scrapping deductions at the end, in two years the renovations would have paid for themselves. A question may be why bother? Well there seems to be quite a few houses up for rent at this time of the year. To make mine more desirable, a renovation was required as well as attracting a tenant who would be more interested in looking after a place if it was well maintained to start with. If I decide not to demolish and develop (or if I can’t raise the finance) then the increased rent will then help in going towards having the rent pay the mortgage in a shorter time period.

The overrun included some forced upgrades due to unserviceability such as the LPG gas/electric convection microwave which was installed in the 70’s and the rotten bathroom vanity which both came to around $2000 including installation costs. Dodgy electric’s had to be fixed and also the removal of the broken asbestos fencing added unforeseen $$. 

If my plans fall through and I have to sell the property I have added value so with plenty of options I’m happy with the decision to renovate rather than to rent as it was.

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Single mum Lisa Curtin has conquered most investors’ biggest fears, going from struggling to pay her mortgages to seeing success in renovations and now claiming the ultimate prize: a portfolio that will enable her to retire at 50.

Top Suburbs : lockridge , midland , harris park , rockville , tuart hill

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  • Dale says on 03/09/2014 01:00:21 PM

    Wow, looks like you put a lot of work into it Lisa (and your mum:-) ). Nice improvements though. When looking into rental property investments, do you have a target price bandwidth for optimal rental yield.

  • Ali says on 03/09/2014 01:30:23 PM

    Wow .... looks fantastic .. well done

  • Peter Famlonga says on 03/09/2014 01:51:34 PM

    Fabulous work Lisa!
    You have done a great job on a limited budget which will not doubt benefit the rental side for a better tenant.

    Well Done!

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