Mortgages, Money and Me

Failings of a ‘fixer upper’

With over 75 per cent of property owners having attempted their own repair or renovation according to Gumtree Tradie Trends Report, one in five has messed up a DIY job – with $380 million in repairs as a consequence.

Here we look at the three most common failings of new buyers looking for properties requiring renovation, and how you can avoid them.

Taking on too much

A significant new buyer pitfall is the habit of biting off more than you can chew. If the property is marketed as a ‘great fixer upper’ or a ‘renovator’s delight’, be on guard – especially if you don’t have any renovation experience.

Cost, busy lifestyles and pressure on relationships are the main reasons for putting off repairs. And if you jump into a renovation without a plan, it is more likely that the renovation will fail.

Before any purchases are made or construction begins, it is important to sit down and plan out your project.

Make a wish list of all the tasks you would like to undertake if money wasn’t an issue. Then consider each one, the impact it will have on the overall project and how much it will cost.

Once you have worked out how much you are willing to spend, it should become clear which tasks you will be able to afford and at what stage.

By setting up a schedule and sticking to a predetermined budget you should be able to complete your project without breaking the bank – and without too much stress.

Tradie troubles

If you don’t choose wisely you could be left with an inflated bill at the end of your renovations, or dodgy work that will need to be repaired in the future.

Time delays can also occur if timelines and expectations aren’t set up front.

To ensure a happy working relationship, meet with your tradie beforehand to set clear guidelines for the tasks that are required, the timeframes and approximate bills.

Regular meetings and updates along the way should ensure there are no nasty surprises at the end of the project.


The final and most common problem for new renovators and investors is overcapitalising on a project. Particularly if the project is your home, it’s easy to spend more than you will ever get back as a long-term return, and so extensive renovations need to be looked at carefully.

Step back from the project and have a look at what the market is doing and what similar renovated properties in the area are receiving.

Also consider the use of the property. If you plan to rent it out for the next five years before moving in, the renovation required to have it ‘rent ready’ could be significantly different to the renovation required if you are moving in.

At the end of it all, renovations are there to fulfil a personal and often financial objective. Enter into the project with your eyes open and an awareness of how much it will cost and how much it will return. If you need to work out your current financial situation, do feel free to contact me.