One of the downside of being a blended family is both hubby and I lost money in divorces and our financial situation has been crap for quite some time. But now I am back working things are looking up and we are finally starting to catch up on some long overdue repairs and improvements. In 16days our new bathroom gets put it, I feel like a kid counting down until Christmas.
I am not sure what they consider an old house but ours was built in the early 80's and some of it is still original including the bathroom. Renovating an older home is an exciting undertaking, but sometimes the reality can be a little less enjoyable than you might have imagined. While I may have great dreams of having a modern totally renovated house, the reality is that it just isn't going to happen. Our house will always tell a story of how my Dad, father in Law and husband to be bonded whilst building our deck before I moved in, and the bathroom that we saved for 18months to build, and the holidays we took in Bali and bought paintings for the walls. Our house has become the story of our family life.
But here are some tips to remember before starting renovations of older style home, as always it is important to consider some possible downsides and cost blowouts.
Beware of Asbestos
Many older homes contain asbestos, we are so lucky that our doesn't have any. My friend who was pregnant at the time bought a house and went to renovate only to find out that she had asbestos in her walls, it totally blew the renovation budget. Obviously when you disturb asbestos the dust is very dangerous and if you are renovating you will need to have it professionally removed. It is ok if you leave it alone though!
If the asbestos is damaged, it must be dealt with immediately.
You can remove small amounts of asbestos yourself legally but anything greater than 10 square metres needs to be removed professionally though a licensed professional like Roof Masters. Here are the Asbestos regulations and guidelines on how to remove if you do choose to do it yourself. Personally I wouldn't play with it especially having children but I guess everyone has a different comfort level. It is important though if you do have asbestos in your walls don't drill holes into the walls.
All Things Electrical
I used to rent this gorgeous old terrace in Bathurst when I was a uni student. It had been beautifully renovated but the electrical system was rubbish. If you put on too many electrical appliances, and by too many I mean three, off the power would go. A few years ago I went to install an air conditioning unit in a property and I was told I had to upgrade the electrical board before I could install as the current system couldn't take the drain, the cost to upgrade the electrical system meant that the project did not go ahead! So when you get quote talk to the tradesmen about the whole cost including any electrical upgrades.
I talk a lot about budgets on this blog, that is the accountant in me, but seriously you need to get a budget for each job and make sure you are not overcapitalising on the property. Our house has a ridiculous 7 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. That is because the old owners turned the huge garage into three bedrooms. This house isn't going to get more value by adding or removing walls or fancy state of the art kitchens and bathrooms. It is a strange house that is going to suit someone with kids in the lower end of the housing budget. If we sink $75k into it, we will get back $20k, if we sink $15k into it, we will get the same back. For us our renovations is about keeping the house in good repair and enjoying living it in for the next 6-7years. We are putting in a spa as part of the bathroom refit which I am ridiculously excited about but that is purely practical considering how much we run!
Have you done renovations; do you have any tips for us? Do you have any renovation disaster stories?