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How do I find the value of renovations before I buy a house?

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  • How do I find the value of renovations before I buy a house?

    Hi all,

    I am looking at buying my first house with my partner, all the places we look at are not exactly what we want (3 bedroom house with an on-suite and downstairs flat for parents). I want to know how I would go about pricing renovations before we buy.. So far I have seen two houses that 'almost' meet our requirements.

    House 1.
    Is a really really nice house, but the downstairs unit is still legally a rumpus room, it has a toilet, and kitchenette area, but the living / bedroom space is quite small. Next door there is a very large workshop (connected to the garage and under the living room), I want to find out how much it would cost to convert this space into a living area and put a door through to the existing 'rumpus room'

    House 2.
    Is a lot older but meets all of the requirements except that it doesn't have an on-suite and the windows are only single glazed. I want to find out how much it would cost to add an on suite to the very large master bedroom (room enough for a bedroom, walk in wardrobe, and on-suite) and double glade the windows in the bedroom (my partner is a very light sleeper).

    I am very new to this, and never expected to be going down this path. Any advice for a complete newbie would be greatly appreciated.



  • #2
    I want to know how I would go about pricing renovations before we buy
    in short, the only way for you to "know" the cost for the renovation is to get a builder in and get a quote.
    lately i been contacted by few forum members PMing me asking me about property Trading etc...

    So, Not been a builder myself there are 2 ways i use to valuate the renovation cost:
    1. I get a quote from the builder i work with. (Ask friends and family if they can refer you to a good builder if you don't know any)
    2. from experience, i can now estimate a ballpark figure for cosmetically improving a house to a mid range standard.
    on top of that i add 10%-20% on my estimate as contingency.

    if the house require anything structural i always seek professional advise while you have the property under contract.
    it will be more difficult for you if you don't know a builder combined with say hoping to buy at Auction.

    i hope that helps.
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    • #3
      What Orkibi said - you will have to get an experienced tradie round there to give you a quote. Most will be fairly reluctant to do so, since there's a good chance you won't buy the house, or won't do the reno for several years, or will get someone else to do it, so it's unlikely to result in work for them. You will probably have to pay for the quote, in other words.

      You should also bear in mind that regardless of how much you're told any work will cost, there is ALWAYS a good chance that something unexpected will appear while work is in progress (or earlier) which increases the cost - potentially by quite a lot. Be particularly wary of 'back of an envelope' or ballpark estimates, which tend not to take into account the specific challenges of your property. If you can only just afford the renovations based on the ballpark estimate, you probably can't afford them. Also remember that you will probably discover some problem after you move in, or a new one will develop, and you will need money to fix that as well.

      When looking for tradies, I've found nocowboys.co.nz is pretty good.
      Last edited by helenalex; 29-04-2015, 02:32 PM.


      • #4
        Thanks for the advice people. Much appreciated...


        • #5
          Hi Craig,

          I myself am also a newbie who has gone through an intensive house search. In the past months I have read this forum intensively and learned a lot, so I can give you a few pointers to some questions you had.

          (While this forum has good experts and information, its search function is not the best, so I always like to put quotation marks around the phrase I type in the search box. Otherwise it gives me too many irrelevant search results.)

          (1) Retrofitting windows from single-glaze to double (or even triple) glaze:

          This seems a fairly standard procedure in NZ. A Google search "retrofit double glaze" gives you a good number of companies that do it. I think I've read that this is an unobtrusive 1-day job: they will take your window frames down in the morning, retrofit it, and put your window frames back before the end of the day. As to its cost, I think a ballpark figure for a 1-level, 3-bedroom home is $3k-5k. Exact figure depends on your type, number, and size of windows. Pretty easy to get a quote.

          (2) Converting workshop/garage/basement into minor dwelling:

          This topic comes up frequently in this forum, so I will not repeat what has been said, but just refer you to a few good threads: thread numbers 36215, 35056, 3550. (I'm not allowed to post links here, so to access thread 36215, simply Google "property talk thread 36215".)

          If you want the house to be already equipped with a self-contained flat (i.e. has bathroom and kitchen with stove and maybe oven), then focus on "home and income" properties in your search. Otherwise, you might want to ask yourself whether it is okay for the "downstairs flat" to have only a bathroom, but not a kitchen.

          I hope this was helpful in some small way!


          • #6
            Hi John,

            I would recommend you get in touch with Crisp Renovations (crisprenovations dot co dot nz). We have used their service in Wellington and found it very helpful, as they work as brokers and match you with a designer and a builder you can trust, and ensure you are getting a good deal.

            Their service is free of charge so fairly risk free really!

            One comment on pricing renovations is that is is hard to know until you have a set of design plans, otherwise a builder has nothing to quote on. It would be better to have a chat to Crisp Renovations and they can put you in touch with a quantity surveyor to price a job for you.


            • #7