Around two years ago I purchased a three bedroom house in a country town. The house was a complete mess with water damage from a leaky roof, a kitchen remodel that was never completed and land overgrown with pine trees and bush. When I first visited the house the front door would not open properly and it smelt like urine. I spent barely five minutes in the house but knew I was going to purchase it.

At the time my wife was reasonably not overly keen on buying the house given comparable houses up for sale in the area required less or no work and could be rented out immediately. However, my intention was to always purchase a “project” that I could work on and refine some of my trade skills. The benefit of this property was that it was cheap enough for me to not worry (too much) about the holding cost (interest paid to the bank) and therefore I could take my time with the renovation. The other key reasons why I wanted this property, was that it is a massive block with sub-division potential and I was essentially getting the house for free.

When I purchased the property, I had no intention to immediately begin renovating as my son was still young and I was working full time. However, after we paid our 10% deposit we were made aware of the fact that the tenants were around three months behind on their rent. The agent had mislead us by previously stating that the tenants were good and were keen to continue to live in the house. Still wanting to continue but not wanting to inherit a tenant problem I stipulated that the house needed to be vacant on settlement and we continued.

When we settled I got my first real good look at the house, and realised how poor the condition really was. The bad tenants were not surprising given the poor state of the house. The plywood walls and carpet throughout the house were water damaged and thus resulted in the terrible urine smell. The layout was horrible, you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, and the toilet was outside. The whole house needed a complete renovation, but luckily the concrete footings, brick piers and hardwood timber walls were sound.

I enlisted the help of my father and brother and we began removing the excess trees and bush next to the house. We then gutted the entire house, so all that was left was the external cladding, the timber stud walls, and the outside toilet. Since, then my father and I replaced and repaired the corrugated steel roofing, and extended the house to enclose the outside toilet. We are now working on the plasterboard throughout the house, and I am expecting to install a kitchen in the next few weeks.

Although so far I have learned a lot from this experience, the number one thing would have to be the pleasure of working with my hands and sense of achievement gained from completing something that I can look at an admire. There really is no comparison to the sense of worth you can obtain from building and fixing something real and tangible. Additionally, the importance of team work and your family and friends supporting you in your endeavours. There are just some things you cannot do on your own, and the importance of teamwork and support cannot be understated.

My intention is to begin posting regularly and giving updates on the renovation as it continues. I am still doing the renovation in my spare time, and balancing work, family and everything else so won’t have a schedule. I will also get some more pictures together for the next post.

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