A Beach Cottage Mark II The Journey

Wed 23rd, Jan, 2013

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OK ladies, strap yourselves in and, as the real estate agent who showed us around this old cottage that we now call home said when we first came to view it, BRACE YOURSELF!.

This post if not for the faint of heart

So the hunt is on for another old cottage…after a bit of experience of doing up old places with ‘lots of potential’ we are ready to dip our toes in the water and get going on a new project, a bit of a challenge and some hard work…

We have explored many areas for this project with many different scenarios…a coastal home to rent out for holidays, a holiday unit thousands of miles away (you might call that a flat, apartment or condo), an investment rental near to somewhere people commute to to rent out long-term, a unit near to us here to rent out to overseas visitors, or a place to buy, do up and flip asap…

Both of us, if truth be known would prefer to either flip somewhere or do a holiday rental but the bottom line of this project is not to be airy-fairy but to make money and Mr BC being the cold hard businessman he is who only does something if it makes money will in the end go for whatever option will do that…

I, on the other hand, am entertaining ideas of ‘original kitchens’ that I turn to gold with a lick of paint, an exterior that would sing with white, sash windows, an overgrown garden heaving with potential and old floorboards hidden under 70s carpets that will come good…all done with a basket over one’s arm and some white linens floating around for good measure…

So these pics are of one of the places that we have been to look at….according to those in the know it has ‘potential’ and is a good ‘investment’

I give you windows


I give you pink walls…


I give you floorboards and carpet


I give you exterior


I give you a kitchen


I give you a garden…


I give you much thought and much convos on this one….

We may well end up with a bog standard place that is a bit dated, quick and easy to flip and not very interesting…but so far we are looking at places that need a lot of imagination on everything….

A lot of people have given us their input and opinion on this and how badly it can go very much not to plan…we are well aware of that and are being very realistic that this could go quite wrong and more importantly may not make any money but we are ready…just like when we came to Australia…it’s now or never.  Bring it on.

I hope you will enjoy being part of the journey with us!

What do you think?  Do you see any potential?  Have you been on a similar journey?  Do you think we could turn something like this around?

Yours in the Power of Paint

Sarah x



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66 Responses to “A Beach Cottage Mark II The Journey”

  1. oo er! One woman’s renovation project making thousands of pounds is another’s money pit!

    havign see what you’ve done already, I’m inlcined to say get something really cheap and do what you do best…..others may not have the vision, the foresight…adn the sheer abiluity to make something lovely. But with your ability adn Mr b each cottage’s reality checks…I would think you wuld do well…..

  2. Cheryl K says:

    YIKES! Well…I guess in all things it comes down to the old adage: “Listen to your gut”

  3. GO FOR IT! My goodness girl look what you have done to that ole’ cottage you live in….did I mentiion GO FOR IT!

  4. Janet in Florda says:

    Oh MY! and to think someone actually thought that carpet and the colors were a good idea at one time! ha! Yes I can see lots of white and trips to Ikea in store for that one. Crawl under house and up on the roof and any place you can squeeze into to check it out for rotten and damaged parts you can’t normaly see. GOOD LUCK and I can’t wait to follow your journey.

  5. Rosa B. says:

    I say, if you’re up to it, go for it! :) It looks similar to the run-down condition our home was in when we bought it 4 yrs. ago. My kitchen was unusable and we had to tear out all the cat urine soaked carpet right away. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to live in it as we remodeled (NOT something I’d recommend!). Our home is now quite cozy and you’d never know what it used to look like! Good luck with your adventure! :)

  6. Lark says:

    If I only had half your courage… What a great new endeavor! I would love to be doing the same thing, but now is not the right time. I am so looking forward to watching your journey and gaining some inspiration along the way! Congrats!!!

  7. Selby says:

    Looks great! I could see heaps of fun to be had with something like this giving it the treatment:)

  8. bec says:

    a lot of blood sweat and tears need to go into this one….is the area nice? you could at least get it livable to rent out for a bit until more funds come in and then reallly go nuts on it!
    depends how brave you are and how strong your relationship is :)
    Bec x

  9. Susanne says:

    I’m seeing white, white, white, a touch of coastal blue and a new Ikea kitchen!
    Mind you that carpet…… surely it could be reworked in somehow!!!!!!!!

  10. Monica says:

    If you have realistic expectations and a talent for remodels (which, obviously you do, from looking around this blog) then go for it! I mean, really, somebody needs to do something about these horrible houses for the rest of us that don’t have the patience or skill to do a makeover! :) Do you ever wonder how they get to that state to begin with??

  11. Caroline says:

    Oh I really do see potetial! Complete blank canvas! Oh soooo much you could do! What a dream!
    …. I don’t mean to be negative nancy but have you had it checked for asbesto?

  12. Actually, I’m the one that sees potential in eveything, and my husband just sees a money pit, lol! Oh, I think with a splash of white paint, you could make this one into a real beauty!

  13. Janelle says:

    Oooohh this is something my husband and I have toyed with for ages…..you go fetch that basket, pop on the linen and start swishing that white paint about!!! xx

  14. Fiona says:

    …lots and lots of white paint!!

  15. Jan says:

    There seems to be so much …let’s just say, missing? If she has good bones …she just needs a lot of lov’n and hard work. Sounds like you are willing and able. Only the inspector will know though, right?

  16. mellie lang says:

    Blimey, that is a bit shabby! I know you can make it beautiful. It sure is going to be a journey alight.

  17. Knowing you guys, ANYTHING is possible! Go girl…work your magic on that place and give it some heart! mwah Hx

  18. Felicity says:

    Wow Sarah, I envy you and look forward to following you on this journey. I cannot wait till the day that my husband and I get the chance to own our own fixer-upper. Everything has a potential, it just depends on how much hard work you want to put in.

  19. Holy cow! That house is a hot mess!

    I think you’re talented enough to pull it off, but how much time and energy is it going to take? Are you going to be as invested in working on a house if you are not going to be living in it?

    In terms of flipping it, you need to consider how much time you spend making the updates versus how much will you make selling the house. For example, a house which you can sell for $100k more than you pay for it may be worth it if one of you is working on it full-time for no more than a year. On the other hand, a profit of $25,000 is not worth it, in my opinion, if two are you are working on it for 2 months to get it ready. I guess it all comes down to what your time is worth (which is why I no longer stand in line for longer than ten minutes at the Post Office…)

  20. nadine says:

    Looks like a lot of asbestos there. And that could be very very expensive to get rid of. And that pink wall? looks like panelling, I wonder what is under there, could it be half timber, half plasterboard? I think 99% of people would be thinking pull down straight away, but if it is dirt cheap to start with, you look like you could get your money’s worth and more. Just offer even less than they are asking.

  21. neen says:

    Oh the memories…..my primary school days were spent on a share-farm property with my bedroom painted that pink and that green!!! Grass grew between the walls and yes I survived and yes it will be a lot of work but hey you can do it!!! Lucky for me, mum and dad let me cover the walls in TV WEEK posters ( Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper…..the memories…) and tennis posters.

  22. MDN says:

    Know that Mr. BC and you have both the insight, experience, skill, and vision to pull off a wonderful renovation.

    Considerations: You may wish to ensure that you get down to the true “bones” as Janet in FL and Nadine (& others) have noted. Is the plumbing sound/sufficient? Asbestos? Lead paint? (Don’t know if Aus. has similar laws as US.) Is the foundation (generally) plumb (impacting all windows, doors). How’re the roof, attic, & crawl spaces? Electricals – enough for today’s demands, up to code? Any mold, termite, or critter issues “down deep”? If serviced by a septic tank (? near ocean), & if so, are there any issues w/ it:, since connecting to city sewers is a huge investment.) I’d wondered about construct of pink walls, too. Last, but not least, as mentioned, how’s the neighborhood? Looks like the yard’s pretty small and that those next door would have a lot of influence on property values (indirectly). What’s the view from within to the outside? Oh, yes, what about yard drainage? Ample parking space? Conveience to grocery stores, bus lines, etc?

    Those things considered, it appears the place has loads of potential, particularly with Mr. BC and you at the helm. I’m not the visionary you are, but can see lots of possibilities…and surely, there is a huge amt. of room for negotiation. Perhaps the different utilities will have records (or provide on site checks) regarding their services to the home. (Lots of them here in the US provide free inspections with/ recommendations.) You may wish to check out the taxation value re when it was last sold, for how much, and the current property value assessment owner. Any levies present? (To provide you more ammo from negotiating standpoint.) What about neighboring homes? (Don’t know if you have a right of open access to public records. Are other properties in “line”?) Is this an entire neighborhood in the rough? An eyesore for the remainder of the neighborhood, or true gem vs pyrite among neighbors’ places?

    If you decide to flip it, what school district is it in and would you want your kiddos going there?

    Commend you on your quest and am anxious to see what the two of you decide upon, and moreso the end result…which, no doubt, will be fabulous! Your sweat equity will pay off handsomely! So many folk have no imagination or skill re renos, but you two certainly do! Another thought: if your purchase is near your current place, it will be more convenient going back/forth in a life w/ an otherwsie busy schedule!

    Yet another exciting venture for the BC family! YEA!

    • MDN says:

      PS If you have something as in US (Zillow) which shows how many homes in area are for sale, and what the orig. asking v. selling price has been), that would be a good resource. Know about resales here in US, but is Aus. under similar situation, or is the Sydney market and/or ocean sites quickly “gobbled up”?

      • MDN says:

        Oh, yeah, also…before starting, it might be a good idea to ensure that Mr. BC, BC crew, and you each are UTD (up to date) re tetanus booster… (Whomever had suture encounter in Bali likely got one then…)

      • boomerang jane says:

        http://www.allhomes.com.au has wonderful free information on home sale prices in most areas of Australia. You can pay some companies, but I’d start with that free resource. Definitely purchase an inspection report, it will give you a heads up on all the things MDN so impressively mentions.

  23. Megan says:

    Ooo yeah! I love the sound of this! Assuming its in a good area and the potential returns are solid I’d be doing a cost-effective makeover to suit a permanent tenant and then when the time is right ie. when you have the cash, call in the bulldozers! Beware of ongoing maintenance costs if you’re looking to rent out an old place like this though..

  24. Libby says:

    Definitely looks like a classic Absestos clad place so if you do it be really careful and remember that just ripping up the carpet may expose latent fibres that have been there forever. The beading on the centre of the inside walls is what we had in our place (and still have in a couple of rooms!!) It means the interior walls are either masonite (safe) or absestos as they use the timber beading to conceal the join lines. Retro lovers now covet the beading but if you remove it you will always have the join showing as the masonite/absestos shrinks and expands and no paint/spack filler can hold it together (believe me!!!)
    All of that being said, you are the perfect person to deal with the challenges a place like this would present….you are such an optimistic person and soooooooooooooooooooo capable with your DIY’ing and pfoofing:)
    Bring it on I say!

  25. Cathie says:

    As the owner of an old Queenslander I love renoveting old houses but PLEASE be careful taking on a place that looks like all asbestos sheeting on the walls.. You would have to get a specialist to remove it and you would need new walls inside and out. The chipped fibro outside isdangerous. I’m not tyring to be a wet blanket , but I have a friend who has recently died as the result of renovating a fibro house in the seventies. I know you will find something just right…

  26. Thea says:

    Sorry – asbestos fibro in that condition is a massive NO for me. Our first house was asbestos fibro and we get regular checks for mesothelioma and it was in good condition. Not good to have hanging over your head. The fibers are carried on your clothing and can affect your children too, even if they go nowhere near the house. Any work has to be done by licenced professionals and involves,completely encasing the house in plastic, proper breathing apparatus, special suits, the works. If you try to do it yourself, be prepared for official complaints from neighbours – I would be a complainer myself, as the fibers can blow across a whole neighborhood. The only thing that should be done with houses like this is demolish them and bury the remnants down deep. My uncles were carpenters who worked on this stuff, and one is dead already from mesothelioma. It is a wretched way to die.

  27. merilyn says:

    good luck sarah and ofcourse mr beach cottage!
    huge job! … oh dear, be careful … say no to asbestos! … sooo dangerous!
    next, ‘location , location, location’ … absolutely everything,
    worst house in best or good street … rule of thumb
    high side of the street
    clearly you have loads of positive energy and a huge vision
    you seem to do a lot of research so make sure you do,
    dampness, white ants, etc
    get a professional to check it out
    you have done wonders with your beautiful beach cottage,
    so don’t jump in tooo quickly
    always all the best. lol m :)

  28. alison says:

    Maybe start with a pest and building inspection, one of those real estate reports of the suburb’s home sale prices, assess the community’s services/transport links/attractions/retail & medical services/population demographics etc.

    Use your gut. You’ll know what’s best for you.


  29. Fairlight Marz says:

    I give you “Demolition”. Looks original. If anyone can pull it off though, I reckon the BC Crew can. Happy hunting!!!

  30. I’d say yes, there is absolutely potential there, and I’m speaking from colour experience. We bought an investment apartment here near Paris that had the exact same colour walls! Yes, one room bright pink, one room bright blue and horrid carpet. All stripped out, white interiors, wooden floors makes a huge difference and there is a line up to rent it when it is vacant. The breaker for me comes in the location. Anything can be turned from a dump into a gorgeous place, yet if the main goal is for it to be a profitable adventure, location counts.

  31. Amanda says:

    I think its a wonderful project…to be honest as the daughter of a builder I see straight through the grime and picture it all perfect.
    I wish you the very best of luck …I have no idea of Australian property market but it doesnt always take loads of money to make a huge difference as you have well proved…

  32. Lynne says:

    I wonder if the real estate market is the biggest factor in what you’re doing. What’s it like in Australia right now?

  33. Mary says:

    Hi Sarah,
    You are braver than I if you are to undertake this project. It does look like it has nice high ceilings, any other character? There is more than just the look of the house, I don’t know the location, but does it have views? Access to transport? I am sure that you can turn this into something special and fibro can be covered over. Best of luck.

  34. Elisabeth says:

    Hideous! I would love to see you transform that place. It has a lot of potential, the wood floors could be really nice, and the layout looks good. I think if there isn’t major structural issues it could work. Can’t wait to follow this project!
    Our house was pretty hideous when we bought it too.

  35. Oh me my. Isn’t this a grand adventure? ❈ Very excited to follow along!

  36. nadine says:

    Having mentioned asbestos in the post and seen responses which I think were valid in their concerns, I do have to say that I have ocassionally seen asbestos homes stripped down and thought they were going to be demolished as both inside and outer walls were removed and the next week, wham, new Hardiplank walls go up and the whole place is relined and looks better than it ever would have 60 or so years earlier. As I live in Western Australia – the home of tear it down and put 3 in its place – I respect the effort those renovators are making. We ourselves removed asbestos eaves only 5 years ago and it was a challenging job. The law has changed now so we must use a registered remover. I have looked again at the pictures and it looks like it has some interesting angles and shapes your possible investment. All the very best in your new venture whichever worthy house you decide upon.

  37. Alice says:

    Sarah not this one… You will be sinking more money than making it (unless it has bush/water views or both it is a knock down). There seems to be too much structural damage and that is what costs the big bucks and is what prompts most to knock them down…Asbestos is another thing you have to be careful with these oldies… This one looks like it has lots of it and it will not come cheap…. You need to look at a place that needs a lot of cosmetic (like from what I have seen from your before shot of your place) work not one that you will need to remove and replace half of it before you get the chance to do what you have in mind…That is my 2 cents worth…It might be a different story in real life compared to the pictures…But if I were in your shoes I would say no or knock down and re-build (and I would only consider it if it was close to amenities or had magnificent views).

    • Alice says:

      P.s either way it’s your choice and I will gladly see any tranformation done by the BC crew :) Best of luck!

    • sarah says:

      yeah it won’t be this one we don’t think…the position of this one is good which is why we looked at it but the condition is not :-)

  38. kath says:

    I agree with MDN about all of the work. Before you make an offer, have a home inspector go in and tell you everything that needs to be replaced or repaired to bring the house up to building and safety codes and then you can either negotiate the price down or walk away. The asbestos concerns me, but I imagine that a lot, if not most houses built when this one was have asbestos and now that I see that the laws in Australia say that it needs to be professionally removed, I don’t see an issue, other than the extra expense. My husband has a remodeling business in NY and we’ve remodeled a couple of houses ourselves, so I know what a big job is ahead of you.
    Good luck and I can’t wait to follow your journey!

    • sarah says:

      thanks, yes we know all about asbestos…the removal is a case of getting professionals in…

      we will of course get anything checked by a home inspector before an offer :-)

  39. Have to add…. when venturing into flipping, sometimes it’s best to work your way up to these types of projects. What’s the harm in getting your feet wet with a condo first? You can still use beachy colors and white paint. Get a feel for it without the financial investment that a place of the caliber above would take. Then for your second flip, up it to a bigger project, and up again your third. Ease into the flipping biz. (Disclaimer – my parents first flip was a major job, it ruined them financially in the end due to unforeseen expenses. Had they some experience and stronger relationships with good contractors it could have been avoided).

  40. Jennifer says:

    Be brave Sarah ! if we did manage do renovate our with your talent you ll do wonders
    Ours was so bad strangers used to stop us in the street telling why on earth did we go for such a relic !?!? and now everyone says how nice the house has become ! ;)

  41. Janet Purcell says:

    Gotta love the blue and green walls that match the carpet! Very brave to start again. Fifteen months and we are still going…..SIGH!

  42. Siggie says:

    How exciting! I am eager to see how you will transform this place. Thanks for letting us partake on this journey!

  43. Rukmini Roy says:

    Wow! A new beach cottage to delve upon. This will be interesting :)

  44. Rukmini Roy says:

    Oh and yes, I give you pink walls back. Too bad its on rent that I cant change it. My living room is different shades of nasty pink. Had to pour in whites in everything else, so it looks okayish but seriously!!! WHY pink! Is it the most preferred color for making your home look eeky?

  45. Motherofluvlies says:

    As a holiday renter…lemme think…requirements that I would pay for….walking distance to beach especially if carrying surf boards e.t.c or small children or not having a car for whatever reason…light within the house…secure garden to relax in.it doesn’t have to be big . and walking distance to shop for daily necessities eg bread ( only on holiday) obviously good water pressure and beach compatible practicalities so not stressing eg outside tap….location is the key….beach ,no busy road but accessible to public transport.Thats what I look for in Europe but of course ozz is different …shade in the garden ( which again is the aspect) proximity to beach and shop probably a priority .you might mean a long term let which is of course an entirely different ball game.Good luck.it,s exciting.My daughter has decided to stay in Brisbane for now.By all accounts she is loving it.

  46. Dolores says:

    You two had shown you are capable of fixing things, that you posses kind of a MIdas touch.. but, I´ll pay attention to the neighborhood more than the house.. If you are planning on renting, the neighbors are going to the a big factor… then paint, disinfect, tear down, and keep painting… I´m sure you are going to create a cute miracle… GOOD LUCK!!

  47. Catherine says:

    Hooray!!! Sounds like you’re ready for a project so why not jump in. I understand why people talk about money, but you know what, there’s also a bit of loving what you’re doing in there too. Look forward to hearing updates…

  48. boomerang jane says:

    Go for it!! You do have to be a certain type to visualise the end result, and I think us creative types can do that. Don’t be put off by the naysayers. It is not without risk, but you need to take calculated risks to achieve anything successful. You have proven you can do it with your own beautiful place. You can do it again. And I can’t wait to see it progress on the blog. I’m looking to buy my first investment property to do a cosmetic reno on, it’s definitely not for the fainthearted, but I think I can feel your excitement already at wanting to get in there and wave your magic wand.

  49. Emme says:

    Hi Sarah,
    as you, me and my husband, we love the old houses with “lots of potential”, in fact, last year we bought one little house near the sea, and with lots of white paint, some touch of sea blue here and there, and sea shells , the house was transformed from being a sad, dark house to be a very bright and coastal house. And now we make money renting the house to tourists, which comes in the summer, and in the rest of the year we enjoy the house.
    So I tell you it’s worth! Go for it!

  50. Emme says:

    Sorry for my english, I’m a spanish speaker…

  51. Anna says:

    Sarah, with one flick of your magic paint brush I believe you can turn anything around! Ha, but seriously, your blog has absolutely inspired me to make my own nest a BC. Are you part superwoman ?

    I agree with MDN that this place might not be the one. Everyone above seems to have addressed issues the BC crew have no doubt already thought of. But on behalf of all of your adoring followers please keep us posted, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

    • sarah says:

      thanks Anna! ahem I am certainly as far from superwoman as anyone can be lol!!!!! though I do have a magic paintbrush ;-)

  52. Good cottage house. Thanks for sharing the picture.