New home pre-purchase design questions and answers with Dr Retro
Alistair McLean
Alistair McLean
Category: Dr Retro House Calls, Real Estate, Renovations

Congratulations to our recent client Ms VB, who has just let me know that she has finally secured a new home for her family after missing out five times in the past 18 months at auctions. We had a Dr Retro Virtual Visit via Zoom to help her with all of her pre-purchase questions.  While I didn’t have the opportunity to personally visit the home, due to our ongoing Covid lockdown, the client was able to supply lots of real-life photos from her visit to provide enough information, as well as supply a building pre-purchase report that she had engaged from a local pre-purchase consultant.

The main difference with real-life photos and those that are published in real estate listings, is that photos that are NOT taken by a professional are actually a better representation of the house in question. There is no wide-angle lens,  no cropping out the ugly bits, and no photoshop to improve the amount of light!

New home pre-purchase design questions and answers with Dr Retro

Secret Design Studio offers a pre-purchase design advice service to talk about potential renovations before you commit to a large real estate purchase.

She wrote “I (luckily) stumbled across Alistair when we were considering an offer on a (cheaply) renovated (12 years ago) post war house in Melbourne with a great location & aspect but zero redeeming features inside the house. We decided to quickly get a building inspection so we knew what we were facing structurally, which we were able to provide to Alistair and then sought his advice on what our options may be to address our concerns with the layout etc of the property. From the first interaction he was extremely responsive and insightful. He is clearly knowledgeable and passionate about his craft. Plus his website and socials posts are a great read – love the Emerald story! They sold me and made me want to reach out.

https://secretdesignstudio.com/mid-century-modern-death-trap-also-known-marriage-breaker/

He asked for our top 5 questions which for us included:

(1) what would be involved in making the layout flow better for us ie add ensuite to master, rearrange layout to increase functionality

(2) poky kitchen issues

(3) options to create sense of space in living area

(4) better integration of indoor/outdoor

(5) issues with family bath/laundry space.

New home pre-purchase design questions and answers with Dr Retro

Secret Design Studio offers a pre-purchase design advice service to talk about potential renovations before you commit to a large real estate purchase.

His session covered these issues and gave us some great design considerations and options, as well as pointing out the costs and implications of those. The session helped me understand that the property had good points (such as being built on a slab and modern electrics, nil water issues etc) but to make it functional and not overcapitalise in the long term we would have some choices to make about where to spend whilst staying within the envelope of the existing structure.

It also helped crystallise that we had an order of decisions to make eg the kitchen could be done early as it needed to stay where it was but its functionality and appearance could be addressed (he provides examples/images of properties to visualise his concepts) but we should not update bathrooms unless we had settled on the floor plan (eg could move downstairs bathroom location). He also points out costs of options eg moving a bathroom on a slab has implications for plumbing, access to the back of house v not = cost implications, upstairs windows requires cranes etc.

New home pre-purchase design questions and answers with Dr Retro

Secret Design Studio offers a pre-purchase design advice service to talk about potential renovations before you commit to a large real estate purchase.

In an ordinary world, one might be tempted to buy such a house and immediately update bathrooms, which then makes it unviable to change the floor plan. He also pointed out design flaws we had missed – such as the upstairs balcony not being wide enough for a table. Another example was in response to my query on opening up space in the living area he pointed out 3 options, contingent decisions (ie did we want to remove the roof to insert sarking & replace the roof) and the relative costs ie $$$$ v $$$ v $.

I now know the relative cost and value of some of the changes we were contemplating which means we can build this into our planning for the house should we continue to make an offer. I can see that his services would also be invaluable for someone about to embark on a reno to help clarify best design v value for future v cost, and order of decisions/work.

Cannot recommend highly enough!”

New home pre-purchase design questions and answers with Dr Retro

Secret Design Studio offers a pre-purchase design advice service to talk about potential renovations before you commit to a large real estate purchase.

To read other house stories please visit our “Wall of Love”