Everyday there is a newspaper or news story about the ‘doom and gloom’ of the Auckland (and wider NZ) property market. As someone who has jumped into the bottom end of this market, and who works in an industry who design houses and buildings, I thought I’d give my two cents and maybe even a bit of advice (eek?!)
I purchased my house in Papakura Auckland, at the end of 2013 (you may have seen an earlier blog post). Prices were high, although not as high as they have gotten to now. But as a single woman house prices were very daunting and in most cases, unreachable. I’d kind of worked out where I wanted to buy – the south would get you a bit more for your money than out west, and there were pockets of Auckland I wanted to avoid. I knew what I wanted – yes I was planning on renting the house out so it probably shouldn’t have mattered, but a first home is still a first home, and I still couldn’t find the one I wanted to take on a huge amount of debt for.
Then I spotted a small subdivided section that wasn’t down a driveway, but on a raised corner site. I wondered what the costs were in moving an existing house onto a section?
After a bit of research and throwing some very rough numbers around, I decided that actually this might not be a bad option. The character home I wanted in a not too bad an area for less than the going rate. Obviously I got a bit lucky.
This site had services already connected, and was in the process of being subdivided – all cutting the costs to come directly out of my pocket – and was in an area that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.
The offer goes in and I have a week to find something to fit the section. Searches on TradeMe and house removal sites found me a little cutie of a villa. And with rotating how it would normally sit, was perfect for my site. It was the perfect beginners renovation project – currently still lived in so in not too bad condition – and while a little pricey I was paying for it being in better condition.
In goes the offer and away we go!
Resource consent drawings go in – with my little additions – and a couple of months later the villa is sliced in two and trucked across Auckland in the wee hours of the morning, then unloaded onto site – definitely a sight to see!
The beauty with a relocated house is that, technically, all you have to do is stick it back together and connect it all up (power, water, gas). So I could have just done this and lived with it as is – both the kitchen and bathroom travelled well so there was no NEED to do anything other than tidy it up. However because it needed to be connected up I took the opportunity to make a few modifications because it was easier and cheaper to do it now, rather than coming back to it at a later date. Other houses in the area had four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Mine had three bedrooms (one being rather small) and one bathroom, so my connections to an architecture firm came in very handy (I'm the graphic designer and marketing assistant)! The clever architects worked out a cost effective way to get my fourth bedroom (which would result in it becoming a master bedroom, with a walk-through wardrobe and ensuite fitting in perfectly) simply by adding an extra room the size of the kitchen, and some cosmetic work to the now front of the villa finishing it off quite nicely. This ultimately added to my upfront costs, and I most definitely could have done it cheaper, bit in the end its definitely added value and saved time (and money).
In the end I got into the property market at a good rate considering how it is now, and I definitely think moving an existing house is something more people should look into as an option for themselves. There are a few things you do need to arm yourself with to succeed though:
An architect (yes this is being posted on a architects blog but…). They know what they are talking about. They know what you can and can’t do, how spaces should work, and will have a bunch of ideas for your individual project.
A trusty, clever builder
Patience / open mind / be adventure ready
In my opinion, the housing market isn’t all ‘doom and gloom’ (even if it sometimes feels that way). You just need to look for little pockets of opportunity and maybe try something that is a little outside of the norm.
Please note that this is my opinion, and my experience. It by no means guarantees that you could have the same experience as me, but hopefully sparks an idea for you to explore other opportunities.