Hate It? Change It! When Ugly Is Perfect.

When ugly is perfect - how to transform an ugly duckling and make a profit.

Hate It? Change It! When Ugly Is Perfect.
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We all know the feeling of finding the right property online, but on inspection, we are faced with a gaudy 80’s gold and laminate bathroom, or a 70’s pattern kitchen - that wasn’t in the photos… Do you walk out?

The answer is most people would, and that’s great news for us!

I’m here to share with you ways in which an “ugly” feature or finish can open up new avenues when purchasing property and produce profit and value through renovation.


“I’ve never done it before and it sounds expensive.”

I hear this a lot, and the truth is, it can be if you're not prepared and organized.

However, don’t despair, here is a guide to help you make this a viable and profitable exercise.

1. Property priorities

When searching the property market for potential renovation, or rejuvenation projects, it’s important to start with an honest priority list. This will ensure the sourcing process remains focused and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed or heading down the renovation rabbit hole.

A priority list could include:

  • Timeline the works must be completed by (if vacancy in an investment property is required).
  • Budget per renovation area.  This will allow you to quickly size up the property from a financial I.Q perspective.
  • What you are willing to do and what you are not. Keeping it to a fixtures and fittings project varies the scope as opposed to complete remodelling. 

It’s critical to be honest in the preparation of this list and keep allowing yourself to revisit it.

2. Understand the outcome

You should always start with the same question when it comes to renovating.

“What is the purpose of the renovation?”

There are no two questions that give the same answer.

You may be:

  • Adding equity to an investment property for higher rental returns.
  • Remodelling an outdated kitchen, bathroom to enrich an already great home..
  • Adding resale value to an investment on a short turn around timeline.
  • Personalise a sterile feeling property by changing fixtures and fittings
  • Opening up space to allow more natural light in and to create an inside to outside living experience.

Keeping a clear vision will provide a clear outcome.

3. Do the math

Now that we have clarity with vision and outcome; we need to crunch the numbers! Take into account materials and trades, as some projects require professionals for the job. Doing the math and having a figure for your overall spend, or spend per area will allow you to enter and analyse a property with new eyes.

If you’re not an experienced renovator or this is a first time home project, don’t get intimidated, get educated! Seek the right financial and building advice pre planning.

4. The power of imagery

Our logistics are in place, now we can daydream. Sourcing images or being in properties that look and feel right is a great exercise for inspiration. Once you can visualize the space, take it into the property and project it onto the existing space, then ask yourself, “Does it fit?""

5. See past the paint

Before you start pulling walls down and installing that centerpiece bathtub mentally, look past the paint! This is where an experienced second set of eyes is always recommended. Finding a professional to give you a scope, is essential with this formula.

Vision % Possibly = on budget
Vision x Possibility = over budget.

6. Negotiate on the negative

While potential buyers are walking out, you’re preparing your negotiating strategy. Using areas that need work or are unappealing can be your golden ticket. Listen out for comments from other potential buyers, you may here a common thread:

“There’s not a lot of natural light.”
“The upstairs bathroom needs work.”
“We need an outdoor area to play in.”

These may be the pain points you need to address.

Let the demolition begin

How do we create a champaign finish on a beer budget? Utilise these well know tricks of the trade to maximise your renovation.

  • Remove and replace
    Where there is an option to do this, I highly recommend it.  This will cut cost significantly less with pluming, plastering and tiling.
  • Light, light and more light
    No one likes a dark property. So make this a priority when planning your project. Using cool based whites on walls where needed and adding in luminosity where available is key.
  • Mirror, mirror…
    Using large wall mirrors well can be a cost effective way to allow a small space to feel large.   This is a great option for bathrooms or dead-end spaces.
  • Be bold, not complicated
    Allow your self to make a statement with a “wow” piece. This could be a wall color, a light fitting, textured tiles, pattern floors or a clever design feature… however place all of this into the same space and it’s overcomplicated and takes away from the overall effect.  This can leave you over budget and underwhelmed.

Four eyes are better than two when it comes to editing and trouble shooting moments, I recommend having a valued or trusted opinion close by, to enhance the experience.

Please note this post does not constitute financial advice, building advice and does not take into consideration your specific situation. Please seek specific advice before acting.

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