Renovating an old dwelling

Old apartment buildings and older homes have an abundance of character and heritage about them and have an obvious appeal to a lot of homeowners. Characteristics such as high ceilings, architectural windows and rose ceilings are charming and beautiful to look at. But with this comes a few things to look out for before deciding to renovate which may not be so charming. Here are a few issues to look out for and make sure you do your due diligence before deciding to pick up the sledgehammer.



The older the dwelling the more likely it will have asbestos. It is always advisable to get a building, pest and asbestos report done prior to purchasing or renovating so you know exactly what you are in for. It is a small price to outlay that could potentially save you thousands of dollars. If asbestos is found and you are going to proceed with your renovation then its best to have a qualified and licensed professional take a look at it and give you an idea of costs to remove.



Plumbing and electrical can also be a potential problem depending on the age of the property and whether or not it has been upgraded at any point in time. If you're planning to move plumbing or put in modern light fittings, chances are you will need to upgrade the plumbing and the wiring which could potentially cost you thousands of dollars.



Be very careful if undertaking any structural work in an old building. Old buildings could potentially have timber floor joists as the sub floor as opposed to modern day concrete slab floors. This will present issues in itself depending on what you want to do. It goes without saying that a structural engineer who is reputable and has a track record with old buildings is engaged to take a closer look.



This can be a problem depending on the age of the building or property. Older apartment buildings generally have stairs and not lifts going up to each floor. It is best to check with your builder about how your renovation may be impacted by this. This could determine whether or not some materials may be able to get into the apartment, how rubbish can be disposed of or where skip bins will be located just to name a few. Another thing to keep in mind is access to services such as plumbing and electricity. This may be difficult depending on the age of the building and what you are looking at achieving with your renovation.


Fire Safety Compliance in apartment buildings

This is not something you think to check but it can cost you up to $100k if you're not careful. You need to check with your owners corporation if the building has upgraded its fire safety to current regulations. If not then council may serve a notice on the owners corporation to get it done. If this is the case, all the owners in the building are up for the cost. Make sure you check your strata’s sinking fund and whether or not this is going to be coming up any time soon.

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