A temporary career change and a bargain buy have led to Victorian couple Doug and Sarah Badrock taking on their most ambitious renovation project to date.
In 2015 the Badrocks’ portfolio consisted of two properties – a house in the Victorian country town of Bright, and a unit in Flora Hill, a southern suburb of Bendigo
– and the couple were looking to expand.
Fresh out of a career shift that saw him trade in his chef’s apron for the high-vis and hard hat of a builder’s labourer for a short period, Doug had his sights set on finding property that he could apply his new skills to. Then the Badrocks found exactly what they wanted when they purchased a two-bedroom house in Bright for $328,000.
“Bright’s an older sort of town and there’s a lot of large two-bedroom houses, and I’ve always been on the lookout for something like that that could be easily converted into a three- or four-bedroom house,” Doug says.
“We walked in when the auction had finished and the agent said it had been passed in, and I told the real estate agent to let me know if anything happens. They rang me and said no one’s bought it and are you interested?
Three other potential buyers showed interest in the property, but the Badrocks’ bid proved to be the winner. They walked away with the house for around $40,000 under market value, ready to embark on the project they had been building up to, having already completed several renos.
“We got a builder to build our first house, and we did all the painting and that sort of thing in that house and put in a carport as well. We did a slight cosmetic reno on the unit that we bought in Bendigo, and then after that we also owned a cafe and did a full reno of that as well,” Doug says.
“We’ve sort of been building up to this one, and this one we’re going completely hands-on.”
As well as adding a third bedroom, the Badrocks have carried out some cosmetic improvements to the house’s walls and floors, done other renovations including adding a deck, and tried to keep costs down by doing the majority of the work themselves.
“I’d been a chef for pretty much 15 years, and then I sort of got away from it last year and worked as a builder’s labourer for six or eight months, which I really enjoyed. I’ve always been interested in property and I learnt quite a lot from one of the builders I was working with, and I’m just applying all those things that I’ve learnt.
“I’ve done probably 80% myself, but I’ve also got a mate who’s a carpenter who’s been a bit of the brains behind it and has been helping out. Doing most of it ourselves saved a lot in wages. That’s probably been our biggest expense. We hired another carpenter to help us out on a few days, as a well as plasterer and electrician.”
The Badrocks originally budgeted $40,000 for the project, but costs are more likely to come in at around $50,000 upon completion, thanks to the decision to add the deck, and to some other unforeseen developments such as the need for 10 days of jackhammering to replace the kitchen floor.
“You’re always learning throughout the renovation. We had a bit of a clear idea of what we wanted to do, but there are always challenges and unexpected costs that you come across, and we found that out pretty quickly.
“There are always hidden and unexpected costs, and that’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve learned. You always need to add a
certain percentage to your budget, because there’s always going to be something else that needs to be done.”
As the Badrocks move towards completing their biggest project yet, Doug shares three of the key things they’ve learned during the journey.
1 Back yourself
It sounds a bit silly, but going with your gut is one of the bigger things I’ve learned. If you think it’s going to work, that’s one of the biggest things.
I listened to everybody and all the advice they had. It’s amazing how many people think they’re renovators and builders, but at the end of the day it comes down to what you think is going to work the best.
2 Good help and communication is key
If you need to use tradesmen, then research them. Asking around town can really help, and I’ve found that local tradesmen are the best. I’ve grown up here and I’ve known a few of the local tradies for years. I’ve never asked for a discount or anything like that, but I’ve always been real upfront and honest with them about what I want, and that’s really worked well.
3 The little things count
We’ve done a lot of little touches throughout the house that haven’t cost anything but will enhance its value and appearance. We put in some burnt timber lintels that we found second hand and burnt up and put them in. Things like that have saved money but made it look really interesting to the eye, and hopefully they’re a little point of difference. I made sure we put ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and TV antenna points. They’re just little things that I know that people look for when they want to buy or rent a house.