Can knowing the history of a home increase its value or perhaps decrease it?

In the UK and Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

In Europe the houses are a lot older than here in Australia. Many of these older houses have a known history and proudly display signage to proclaim this.

Ok, I know that our cities and suburbs are relatively young compared to Europe, with many suburbs, or areas of a suburb, less than 100 years old. Here in Australia we tend to think a Victorian house or even a Post-war home as old. In my street we have a mix of house styles ranging from the ‘between the wars’ Queenslander, like ours, through to the low set brick home that was built last year (and which generated a lot of tut tutting from those owner occupiers in the street, its unsympathetic style marring the streetscape – but more of that in another post). So my question is ‘if the Queenslander is one of the oldest houses in the street, and most likely in the suburb, and we can discover its history, is this likely to make it more attractive to buyers?’ Read more

Wash day blues no more

The old idea was to have an outside laundry, away from the main house. We've decided to return to that idea with our laundry on the rear deck.

The old idea was to have an outside laundry, away from the main house. We’ve decided to return to that idea with our laundry on the rear deck.

I have a laundry! Well, I have the space built for the laundry and two doors to close it off. The fixings are still to come.

When we were initially talking to the architect who drew up the plans for the renovation, we were all scratching our heads trying to work out how to fit everything into the small footprint of the original house. As I pondered and walked around the neighbourhood (my favourite thinking activity), I noticed that some people had put their laundries on the rear verandah. I had a chat to the architect and he decided that we could tuck the laundry underneath the outside stairs. It meant filling in the side of the verandah to make a water tight room, but the result, as I looked at it today, is fantastic. We have a neat little laundry space that doesn’t impinge on our inside living areas. I think a few other benefits will become apparent, such as a quieter living area, with no noisy washing machines or driers competing with music or the television (when I allow it to go on) and lower risk of water leaks inside. If anything overflows in this laundry, it should drain out through the verandah flooring. Read more

Professional versus DIY

A simple painting job to tidy up one of our rentals.

A simple painting job to tidy up one of our rentals.

There is always a toss-up about whether to do something yourself, and potentially save some money, against getting a professional in to do the job.

We have completed a fair bit of cosmetic renovation work over the years. I am a mean hand with the paint sprayer, painting the inside of a house in a couple of hours and husband extraordinaire has learnt many tricks over the years in hanging doors and finishing those fiddly corners of the skirting boards so they sit neatly. In the past we have always done the majority of the work ourselves. It has been enjoyable and saved us money at a time when we weren’t earning a lot and had more spare time. Lately however, we have found there are other things we would prefer to do rather than spend our weekends painting and tiling.

This latest project is vastly different to others we have tackled, those past projects were cosmetic renovations, where we focused on improving the look of a place by painting, replacing floor coverings and tidying the gardens. Over time, we have took on more complex renovations, employing tradesmen to install new kitchens, revamp bathrooms or polish the floors in some of our rental houses. The more we have used outside tradesmen, the less profit there is in the deal, or at least that is what it looks like. Read more

A wild, wet week

Rear elevation of Queenslander, water courtesy of Cyclone Marcia.

Rear elevation of Queenslander, water courtesy of Cyclone Marcia.

Wow, what a wild week it was weather wise. Parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory took a beating with both Cyclone Lam and Cyclone Marcia hitting Australia this week. Thankfully Marcia had downgraded to a tropical low by the time it hit Brisbane. The massive amount of rain we received has well and truly settled the fill under the house and shown us that we need to add more fill, or we will end up with a mosquito breeding ground. The house is nearly closed up, still waiting on those front doors, so there was no issue with the inclement weather affecting the internal fixings of the house.

While the builders were busy with their work this week and the rest of Queensland was in cyclone management mode, I was working, and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather of Cape York, in the Northern Queensland community of Pormpuraaw. There they are still waiting for the wet to really set in. We experienced high tides and stormy seas from the effects of Cyclone Lam, which washed away some of the ocean-side tracks, but that was it. Read more

The benefits of going away

The windows have been installed, now just waiting for the doors to arrive.

The windows have been installed, now just waiting for the doors to arrive.

There is definitely a benefit in going away for six weeks while a major renovation is being handled by your builder. Now I know most people want to be around so they can answer any questions about where the power points should be placed or have input into the many minor adjustments that need to be made when something just isn’t where it should be according to the plans. I’ve decided though that I’m not one of those people. We went away with the house sitting like a bloated spider on spindly legs and have come back to a house that is almost at lock up stage.

This week I have had to go through the house and look over those minor decisions that the builder has had to make and every one of them has made sense so I don’t see that me being here would have made much difference to the outcome, perhaps just slowed down the process while they waited for me to make a decision. Of course you do need to have a good builder that you can put your confidence in and that’s definitely been the case here. Read more

Oops, should have read twice, signed once.

Making sure the supports are welded in the correct location

Making sure the supports are welded in the correct location

I made a slight error the week prior to the Christmas break, nothing that will bring the house down but in my haste to get things done before Christmas and the holidays I didn’t talk through the whole job with one of my contractors, the company that was to re-roof the house. The builder had told me that it would be better to add in some extra timber supports to the roof where the existing frame had sagged over the years. I had a quick word to the roofing contractor about the need to ensure the new roofing allowed for taking out the dips in the roof which he interpreted to mean packing out the rafters here and there. I didn’t read through the description carefully in the quote otherwise I should have realised this difference. In my defence I was rather busy getting some work completed before going on holiday plus organising a whole host of other things related to the development. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t picked up until the team arrived on Monday to commence the job when the builder and the roofing foreman got talking. A quick call to the roofer confirmed my error. After a hurried discussion with the builder confirmed that the problem would be cosmetic only, we decided to go ahead with the re-roofing. Read more

Framing stage completed

Ok sorry, I have been off enjoying myself whilst leaving the builder to get on with the renovation and others to take photos for me and I got a little sidetracked.

Snow show walking in far north Norway beats renovating in 40 degree heat any day.

Snow show walking in far north Norway beats renovating in 40 degree heat any day.

Now, I enjoy a good reno but when it’s a toss up between walking the canals of England or house-painting, the canals will win out any day. Add in a side trip to Norway to view the Northern Lights while the temperature in Brisbane is soaring to 40 degrees and it’s a no brainer.

Read more

Timing the Project

Why, oh why, do I do it to myself; take on a major project just before the start of the Christmas close down period, during the hottest, stormiest time of the year and before I take an overseas holiday? Well as I said, this blog is possibly also about ‘how not to do things’!

Storm Season, what was I thinking!

Storm Season, what was I thinking!

Sometimes, things just work against us. Yes, I did procrastinate a little, but in my defence I had a lot of outback work going on and couldn’t concentrate on another project of this size. It was only after the work commitments eased up a bit that I could devote more time to moving the renovation and new build forward. Read more

Stumped, in the nicest possible way

This week has been pretty busy on the work site with everyone wanting to get as much done as possible before the Christmas closedown.

Stone age techniques obviously still work

Stone age techniques obviously still work

The house raisers returned on Monday and worked with the bobcat operator to dig the holes for the stumps – two meters deep. The low tech approach to problems came into play again this week. A plumb bob would obviously get in the way of the drill and would be blown around by the wind. The answer was to have one guy (the youngest) climb up onto the Jenga stacks then position and drop a stone from the centre of the attachment point for the stump. Where ever the stone landed, that was where the hole needed to be drilled. It seemed to work as the house stumps appear to be in the right position and they are all straight. Read more

Do not plant a poinciana in a suburban backyard

Yesterday was site clean up day, and I think it was expensive. I haven’t got the bill yet but it looked like a big job.

And the walls came tumbling down.

And the walls came tumbling down.

The backhoe and truck arrived around 6.30am to skies that were threatening rain. The Backhoe operator took one look at the site and ordered a second truck. I watched from my office window throughout the day as they discovered the second slab underneath the first one and old septic pipes. On the bright side, the light rain throughout the day kept the dust down and a building site is meant to be muddy, isn’t it? Read more