Buying the First Project for our Renovation Road Trip

Alexandra. Known as the hottest, driest and coldest town in New Zealand. Have we been here before? We drove through it on our honeymoon 9 years ago. But we didn’t stop. Now we have moved our lives down here. Good move? We sure hope so - and about to find out.

Before we get stuck into planning, designing, renovating, exploring - and sharing the journey with you. We first want to share why we decided on this house and this location, Our Charmer in Alexandra. Out of all the houses in NZ to purchase, what stood out with this one and why we think it was worth the sale price (or I would say, how we did our due diligence).

The property is a 1910’s mud brick Villa, filled with character and original features. It has sash windows, timber lined ceilings, archways inside and 4 fireplaces. It has also been upgraded over its life to bring some new features, with an extension to the kitchen and very importantly - some heating. This house has been cared for and loved - and given she’s over a century old is in great condition. 

There were many appealing factors about this property, we got attached just looking at the photos.  But also, which practically ticked a lot of boxes for us with our strategy for the Renovation Road Trip. The key aspects of the property which appealed to us were:

  • Character. This wasn’t just a run-down house to renovate, there is so much existing character to work with and get inspiration from.

  • Scale of project. We have been looking at properties which require a range of renovation work. A couple being major projects, which have made us evaluate and understand our preference for a smaller scale project. This house has the option of doing lots or little.

  • The outdoors. Caleb is very excited about the potential of the outdoor space. A massive area, ripe for some landscaping (and a spa pool).

  • Price. We have been open to different towns and opportunities with varying prices, however we are glad to not be at the upper end of prices. We purchased this property for $365,000. Whilst we have been pre-approved by Kiwibank for more, we feel much more comfortable not stretching ourselves to start off with.

The Buying Process

The property was listed with an Asking Price of $389,000, and has a capital valuation of $300,000. It had been on the market for nearly 1 month, so I felt that there was room to negotiate as there were no offers to date on the property. Given we were also looking at other properties, I was able to remove emotion and make an offer for our situation. Our initial offer was $340,000, it then took almost 2 weeks of offers and counter-offers before we had an offer acceptable to both ourselves and the Vendor. Over this time we got more invested and attached to the house. But were very glad this final offer was accepted - as we had decided we would not go any higher than this price.

Alexandra Charmer Property Listing.png

Our offer was conditional, meaning we had included several ‘conditions’ to check satisfactory before we would go unconditional. We had included 7 working days to complete our checks on the property and decide if everything was acceptable. Depending on your situation and the property being purchased, there are a wide range of conditions and steps which you may want to include. For us, the steps we took next were:  

  • Bank. I sent the signed Sale & Purchase Agreement off to Kiwibank to confirm they would lend on this specific property.

  • Solicitor. I sent the agreement to our solicitor to keep them informed and make sure the legal process is correctly followed.

  • Building Inspection. I arranged a professional building inspection and report to be prepared. To identify any key issues or risks that the property might have.

  • LIM (Land Information Memorandum). I ordered a LIM through the local council. The LIM is a report prepared by the local council which contains information from their records on a specific property. Including details on consents, buildings, planning information, services, etc.

  • Visit. I arranged a day trip to fly down to view and inspect the property - typically done before you get to this step. Whilst the listing agent was very helpful and provided walk through videos and photos of the house for me beforehand, it’s hard to replace seeing it in person. I also wanted to get a feel for Alexandra, for the town and if I thought would be a good place for us and have what we needed.

Caleb Alexandra Renovation Road Trip.jpg

With nothing that stood out as red flags or major concerns we pushed the green light - we went unconditional on a property and location that Alice and the kids have never been too! So the first time they walked through the house was moving in day (after spending a week travelling to get there) so here is a video to show you their reactions! Spoiler Alert: there are a lot of WOWs.