It seems like ages since sale contracts were exchanged on the 4 June 2015 for this property.
A contingency clause in the sale contract is incumbent upon the seller obtaining probate from the trustee for a deceased estate before settlement can occur. After a prolonged delay, we finally settled on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 for a contract that normally takes 42 days to do so.
I went straight into project planning mode after contracts were exchanged in June 2015, engaging my building designer to formalize and submit a DA for the renovation and addition.
BEFORE Excavation – Site Preparation
Initially, I expected approval for the renovations to be obtained via a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) the process of which could take as little as ten days through a private certifier. However, a bushfire report returning a classification of ‘flame zone’ (the highest bushfire alert rating per the NSW Rural Fire Service) means constraints to building design and materials used for the proposed renovation. The CDC process is not permitted due to this rating and a council approval is required via a DA. Project costs will also incur the additional expense which I anticipated at the outset.
Through my experience from building townhouses in Melbourne over the last few years, I have learnt that Council restrictions to building design can often be opportunities in disguise. Obstacles present an opportunity to think creatively and in ways we don’t normally do. I will share my new discoveries in building materials and the design of a “floating corner” that integrates the outdoors with the interior of the house in my next blog post.
Delays on the part of the building designer meant the DA was eventually lodged on 28 January 2016, a lengthy 127 days since settlement on 23 September 2015. Upon lodgement of the DA with Northern Beaches Council, I am told by the council planner that they are currently inundated with a high volume of development applications.
It seems that most home owners are eager to have their DA approved before Christmas and ours were eventually determined on 22 April 2016.
The previous owner maintained quite a few plants and used brick pavers to define garden beds. Though I enjoy gardening, there is ample land in the backyard and I foresaw an opportunity to add value during open inspection back in May 2015 when it was for sale.
“Can we keep this garden bed?” Mysaucepan asks as I finalize renovation plans with the building designer.
“From a real estate investment point of view, no” I reply. “We cannot realize the full potential of this land if we keep this garden bed.”
On the space where the garden bed and paved concrete area are currently located will be an elevated deck and spa pool. The garden will be low maintenance and brick pavers will be replaced with sandstone rocks for a more natural setting.
A building permit is required before construction can commence and as I wait for this permit to be issued, I begin my search for a good local builder. Over a few weeks of meeting builders and going through quotations, I believe that I have found the right builder for this proposed renovation.
While waiting for the permit to be issued, the builder begins the site preparation by removing the garden bed, a mature yakka, fern and concrete pavers.
I consult a local arborist to see if mature strelitzia nicolai and palm trees next to the house can be relocated elsewhere. The arborist advised that depending on the age and species of a tree, the cost of relocating and replanting can be up to $5,000 and there is no guarantee the tree will even survive in its new location. Based on this advice, I think the decision to use an arborist for replanting is rather obvious.
It is always best to avoid properties where the shape of the land and floorplan are irregular because they are difficult to work with.
Square and rectangular areas will generally yield the highest return in space utilization. By demolishing an external wall, this under-utilized corner of house which is currently a garden bed will be integrated to become a new bedroom with an ensuite.
Application was made to council to allow access for an excavator through the long strip of reserve land at the rear of the property. Within a day, the excavator prepares trenches for the concrete foundation for the extension of the existing house.
A mature palm next to the house is being removed with an excavator and replanted at the edge of the backyard. I hope this palm will survive and thrive in its new location.