7 ways to find hidden potential in your home.

Did you know that what you see isn’t always all you get when you are buying a House? Especially on you plan to improve or renovate at some point. Most houses possess hidden potential if you only know where to look.

There’s often more to a house and property than meets the eye, and some of it can stop your improvement plans in their tracks. Understanding that you need to dig a little deeper to fully understand what you have is the key to a successful purchase. 

Most properties have hidden potential, and as a result unrealised value, and knowing what to look for can be a game changer.  In this post, we are going to explore where to look to find this hidden potential in your home or in a home you are looking to buy.

In case you haven’t read our recent post that explore this concept in depth. You can read it here if you haven’t already. A  property’s hidden potential and its unrealised value lies in its capacity to be improved to meet a buyer’s current and future needs.

Most Properties Can Be Improved

Most properties have room for improvement, or change in order to suit your needs. The key is knowing what to look for, in order to ultimately realise this additional value.

Hidden potential and unrealised value can be unlocked  in a variety of ways, like the capacity:


    • To increase the current floor area, 
    • Modernise the existing house layout,  
    • Exploit the (sometimes hidden) positives, like views, orientation, breezes, character, street appeal
    • See past the perceived negatives that might put buyers off, and could be addressed, car parking, busy road, orientation, privacy
Re of a ‘character’ Queenslander style home.

Beautiful light renovation and extension of a ‘character’ Queenslander style home.
Architect: SP Studio   Photo Credit: Christopher Frederick Jones



Uncovering the Potential

In order to uncover a homes hidden potential, you first need to understand what the property is now, whether there are rules and restrictions that apply that will impact what you can do, and what site specific factors exist. Once you understand this you need to explore what you needs are. The next step you take is the key to understanding whether this is the right house for you. 

You need to decide whether its possible for the house and property to deliver the things you want and need it too.

Improvement Possibilities Equation


It’s important to remember that your needs and wants are exclusive to you and its important that you assess them against the opportunities and barriers and the improvement possibilities you have identified.  Knowing what you can and can’t live with will help you decide. 

We explore this in more depth here

What to look for

So does the house and property you are looking at or currently own have any hidden potential?

Here’s what to look for…


Beautiful Modern Light Filled Home Renovation
Architect: James Russell Architects . Photo Credit: Toby Scott


Being able to easily reconfigure part of the existing floorplan is a great place to find hidden potential.

Think better not necessarily more – improve what you already have
Australian houses by square meterage are some of the biggest in the world. But do they need to be?  

Statistically, we only use 80% of our homes less than 20% of the time but typically spend enormous amounts of money on spaces we spend little time on during the day – Think Parents Retreats, Media Rooms and the like.

Currently, we tend to add to the existing structure to get more space but maybe we need to be looking more closely at what we already have, especially if the existing footprint is already a reasonable size.




Modern Take on an 'Up and Under' Renovation

Modern take on the traditional ‘Up and Under’ formula to achieving more floor area.   
Photo Credit Scott Burrows Architect  Lockyer Architects




The ability to add more space is another area of hidden potential. Many buyers struggle to see past what is directly in front of them to see the possibilities.

Additional space can be added to a home in a number of ways. Through an extension, a second storey, raising and building under, garage conversion, granny flat… the list goes on.  

The materials you home is currently built from, land size and planning requirements will all play a part in which option is actually viable or even feasible on your property.

Australians are obsessed with large houses but think about it why waste energy and money and spaces you will seldom use. So focus that time and money on the spaces that you will in fact use the majority of the time.


Light Filled Kitchen that takes advantage of its North Facing Aspect

Light Filled Kitchen that takes advantage of its North Facing Aspect
 Photo Credit Toby Scott Architect:  James Russell Architect


Look for a house with a good orientation. 

In the Southern Hemisphere, good orientation is one with a north facing aspect. Which is typically with the living Area sand typically the backyard facing the North. 

Orientation it’s hard to change if you don’t have it. Yet it’s one of the things that makes you home comfortable to live in and one that will save you ongoing costs. Think, less mechanical cooling and heating throughout the seasons. 

  • Ongoing cost of living
  • Everyday comfort

Look for a house with great Natural light 

A sunny, airy home feels happier and more spacious, but don’t automatically give up on a house because it is dark. 

Consider small changes that could bring in more light. Things like skylights, windows and even cut openings in walls and floors to help light spread throughout a home.


Newly renovated living room kitchen
Spacious Living Room



Look for a home that ‘flows’ well. 

The best designed homes will take into account how you actually live in it. It’s the ease with which you move from room to room. Believe it or not, a picture perfect house isn’t necessarily a functional one. 

Does the house have ‘good flow’ between frequently used rooms?   Are rooms arranged logically?  

Consider  how traffic travels through the house as a whole. 

Think about it: if your guests have to walk up a flight of stairs and down the hall to use the bathroom, could that affect entertaining? How will you, your family and your guests move around and live in your home?

It’s possible to renovate to make particular rooms more livable, but it is far more costly and complex to make fundamental changes because the entire house’s floor plan layout just does not work.


Look for a house with Well Proportioned Rooms 

Many older homes have small rooms that are not well suited to a modern lifestyle.  It is often possible, however, to move walls and open up spaces relatively easily. 

Are the home’s rooms a good size and logical shape, or can they be easily changed?  

Removing a wall to create an open floor plan can make a separate kitchen, dining room and living room a great entertainment area or family space.  On the other hand, sometimes there are fundamental problems that are not easy to correct. Things like low ceiling heights.

Light Filled Open PLan living Space with strong connection both visually and physically to garden.

Light Filled Open Plan living Space with strong connection both visually and physically to garden. 
Photo Credit Tatjana Plitt  Architect  mihaly slocombe 


Our lives are linked to the great outdoors in Australia. It’s a huge part about who we are and how we live.  So a good indoor outdoor connection is important.  

And it’s also important to keep in mind that this connection is more than just the physical connection although that is an important one. it’s also about window size and placement, skylights, capturing good views and mitigating not so good ones, and ensuring privacy is considered.

Street Appeal

Renovated Queenslander with enhanced Street Appeal and good sense of Entry into the Property and House.
Photo Credit Scott Burrows  Architect: DM2 Architecture


If you want to increase the value of your home then you should start with its street appeal., and that street appeal should start with a clearly defined, efficient entry point to your house. And property or the ability to get one.

  • No real entrance
  • Fencing 
  • Car parking
  • Landscaping
  • Paint
  • Reinstate and enhance character features or modernise 

The exterior features of your home are just as important as the interior ones, as street appeal provides a wealth of benefits for you and your home.

Look to add some personality to your home so its doesn’t just look like a cookie cutter version of every other house in the street.

Outdoor Entertaining and Pool

Swimming Pool and Entertainment Area  
Architect:  Jackson Teece  Photo Credit:  Christopher Frederick Jones



Does the property allow you room to add an extension, swimming pool, outdoor entertaining or even a garden shed.   

The size of the allotment and how the house sits on it,  is important. Is there room to extend, good access to the backyard, and space for boats, trailers extra cars, bikes,etc

What are the existing setback of the house to the property boundary? 

A good size block is also a bonus because it is s the land that grows in value, not the building on top of it.

A flat block gives you more flexibility with improvement options than a sloping block, Unless you are trying to capture a magnificent view of course.


Natural Light
Natural Light Filled Kitchen
Architect: Coy Yiontis Architects . Photo Credit . Tatjana Plitt



What is Hidden Matters

So the moral of the story is to look past what you can easily see, set aside your emotions and dig a bit deeper. 

Know for sure, this house can be what you want it to be now and into the future.



While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, The Zen Reno does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. It is for information purposes only and expert advice should be sought regarding how this issue might affect your particular project.

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