Saturday, February 15, 2014

Things You Should Know

Since starting this project, Dan and I have received plenty of advice. We’ve also had plenty of people who’ve told us they’d love to do something similar one day (that is, move out of the city and renovate an old place to raise their kidlet/s in.)
 So, today, we’ve collected a few little insights we’ve learned from our experience so far. Do with them as you will and take them with a grain of salt. Our experience is ours - yours will be equally as unique.

-DIY renovations of old houses are not for the faint hearted. Really, they’re not. You either need to sink a whole lot of time and energy into these houses, or a whole lot of money.  You may end up doing all three anyway. Materials are far more expensive than in newer houses and renovation costs can easily blow out. (VJ timber, I'm looking at you).

- Contrary to what everyone seems to say, acreage within an hour of the CBD can actually be  reasonably priced (this might be more true of Brisbane than Sydney or Melbourne, to be fair...). We had always looked around more expensive acreage areas where getting what we wanted - a large, original Queenslander in a pretty spot - was unachievable. We looked at less fashionable acreage areas and found ourselves able to afford what we wanted. Plus, when we got here, we found we weren't the first ones to have the idea. We've found a great little community of like-minded souls at a similar age and stage of life here, too. It suits us just fine.

- If you renovate a Queenslander outside the inner suburbs, there’s a very real chance of over-capitalising. These houses can be complete money pits. Be realistic about what you spend, even if you’re planning on staying awhile. Always keep an eye on what comparable properties in your area are selling for and work out your budget accordingly. 

-Gumtree is your friend. We've found loads of bits and pieces for our house on there. We've also found most of our hedging plants, too.

A Gumtree find - windows for the bathroom.

- When you're planning your move, don't rely solely on to research and find a property. Spend a lot of time driving around instead. Our place had a terrible online ad that we'd skipped over dozens of times (cringing as we did so), but when we drove down a funny little backroad in an area we'd decided we liked, there it was, and (for Dan, at least) it was love at first sight. That said, there are some excellent online tools to help you. gives really accurate travel times, so you can work out just how far out you're really going. A property may be further out as the crow flies, but have better road infrastructure nearby, which means it's actually closer to your job/family/favourite Chinese takeaway.

Another little farm in our neighbourhood.

- If you want information on a house you're considering, just put its address into Google. You'll be surprised at what might turn up. Usually, you can find information on previous sales listed for that address including dates and prices. And yes, if you go and put your own address into Google now you'll probably be able to find that information, too. Scary, no?

-  Think of your landscaping at the beginning and take time out to plant hedges and trees where you want them to be as soon as you can. Then get on with other things.

- Once you’ve lived with high ceilings, you'll never want to go back to normal height ones. 

- Do your research before committing. According to a fairly grim study by Charles Sturt University, almost 90 percent of 'tree-changers' surveyed in Victoria in 2009 were unhappy with their move and planned to move on within five years. That's terrible odds.

- Prepare to be stunned that, with all the amazing things mankind has invented and done, the whipper snipper is still the favoured method for removing grass in hard-to-reach-places. Whipper snippers are awful, frustrating things.

- Nothing really compares to the contentment of sitting on a verandah on a quiet afternoon, drinking tea and staring into space. If 90 percent of people really regret their tree changes, I seem to know an amazing amount of people from the other 10 percent - ourselves included.

This post was sponsored by Cordell. (Sponsored posts allow us to progress this project just that little bit faster. Yay!)


  1. wow -90% big number.
    that's a good suggestion about putting in landscaping and trees at the beginning - as long as they aren't in the way and don't get trampled, it's a good suggestion for getting everything going while you are workign on your house.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I'd love to know when the study was made - like how long after the black Saturday bush fires? Victoria has had some terrible weather extremes over the past decade and its any wonder that such a high percentage of tree-changers wanted to live in a more hospitable environment.

    What I will say about moving to a tree-change lifestyle, is that you can seriously underestimate how much it will cost. Transport costs more, because cars need repairing sooner for longer distances traveled. You will also have to manage your own water and septic supply, which isn't cheap either. But then in a more urban situation, you're paying higher rates and mortgages/rents, so there's no real difference. To the novice however, they may believe its going to be cheaper living in the country. In some ways it can be, in others, it costs just the same - just depends how quickly you wish to progress.

    I thought it was an excellent summary. While we had a new house built (so not quite the same thing) we had to do a lot of our landscaping and earthworks ourselves. Materials add up and there's very little money after a few projects roll out. I liked the idea of sticking to a budget, yet our projects are notorious to being longer and more expensive than we originally planned.

    1. Thanks Chris. I did actually have a point in there about the high cost of living - fuel and car maintenance, the travel time to buy basic things, the cost of maintaining ride on mowers etc. But then I decided we probably spent less money now on buying things on impulse at the shops, or on eating out, so I figured it probably evened out for us. It is definitely something to be wary of though.

  4. Excellent piece Edwina. Your first observation on DIY renovations for old homes not being for the faint of heart is spot in, in fact that entire paragraph should be a mandatory disclaimer on any renovation web site! I also like the quiet you sometimes find in slightly out of the way places, probably due to growing up on a farm. We had a sleep over with the kids for one night recently at the new house before we started doing the first urgently needed renovation (bathroom), and when the kids were in bed we were sitting out the back listening to the silence, when we realized that you could actually hear the waves crashing on the beach. This was a bonus as we didn't think we were close enough to hear it when we bought the place. Ours is more sea change than tree change, but it is well worth the time, effort and hard work. People should follow their dreams - like the old NT tourism advertisement used to say - "You'll never never know, if you never never go"!

    Cheers, Col

  5. As long as we stay true in our business, we can assure the success of our Real estate. It is important that we work hard to gain more knowledge in order for us to secure the stability of our business. Take care of the things which is important to know what are the things needed for our success.

    Property Investment Mackay