What is Renovation Potential? and why you need to know…


If your thinking of renovating your current home or looking to buy one to renovate, it’s oh so important that you understand its renovation potential.


So what is Renovation Potential?  


Well, to put it simply it’s your homes ability to meet your needs – which could be monetary, time or lifestyle related. It’s really important that you understand this before you start down the renovation pathway.

It’s really important that you understand this before you start down the renovation pathway. Ignoring it means you can waste time pursuing something that isn’t possible or possible in the way you envisage it. Money is wasted doing work that may be useless or that may need to be redone later. And then there’s the issue of potentially to having to recalibrate your expectations when you realise that you can’t, in fact, achieve what you had imagined in the way you had envisaged it. I’m sure you agree none of these scenarios are where you want to find yourself.


 Too many people miss this critical step and it invariably costs them. 

A Common Mis-step

Too many people miss this critical step and it invariably costs them. It costs them lots of money.  It costs them lots of time, and it leaves them open to an enormous amount of stress.

All the things you don’t want to happen when you renovate.


Renovations are on the rise

According to the latest Housing Industry Association (HIA) Renovations Roundup report, the $33.36 billion home renovations industry in Australia is set to boom as houses built in the 80s are starting to age and will need to be updated and renovated

So, bearing in mind these stats, and current housing market conditions notwithstanding, this combined with the fact that cities are becoming more densely populated resulting in a lack of vacant land especially in inner-city areas,  renovation is becoming the go-to method for improving their home for many.

But it needs to be done the smart way, and the smartest way is understanding, right at the start of your renovation the potential of your home or a home you’re looking to purchase offers.


You need to understand what you have before you can accurately explore the possibilities.



It’s about more than just your house

Renovating a home involves so much more than just building or upgrading the physical house, Things like how the house sits on and relates to the block, and the context of the block in the larger scheme of things are important factors in assessing renovation potential. Many people focus solely on the house which can be detrimental to the successful overall outcomes of your project.

Renovation Potential - 3 levels of Assessment

So, with that in mind,  how do you go about assessing renovation potential?

What to consider when looking at renovation potential

So, now we’ve established that understanding renovation potential is important. How do you go about assessing it?

There are a number of things you need to look at to accurately assess a house’s renovation potential.

the location

The location of your property can affect its renovation potential. This can be a relatively subjective topic and will largely depend on what your long term objectives are for the property. Is it for investment? Is it close to work, family, schools, shopping hubs, the list goes on…

the property itself

It’s important to look at your property as a whole not just focus on your house, or even a couple of walls in your house for that matter.   Many people miss this step when they focus too much on the interior detail of the house, without taking into account the higher level factors that might impact or worse be showstoppers to a successful outcome.

These things include:

Orientation DiagramOrientation

The orientation of your home relates to its positioning in relation to seasonal variations in the sun’s path as well as prevailing wind patterns. Good orientation can increase the energy efficiency of your home, making it more comfortable to live in and cheaper to run, by reducing your reliance on heating and cooling systems play a critical role in cutting your energy bill

This item rarely makes it onto a home buyers checklist and is something that is easy to forget when assessing a property.

As the best and most controllable sun comes from the north, in the Southern hemisphere, ideally you want your living areas facing north – (which in most cases will be toward the backyard). Orientation and designed to maximise it is quite a complex topic and will require more than a bit of exploration during the design phase of your project.


Slope DiagramSlope

Lack of access to a site for construction purposes can have a major effect on potential costs.  It can make your construction take longer, because it slows down every trade, makes deliveries more difficult & may require the use of heavy lifting equipment. As a general rule, the steeper the slope the greater your costs, this is primarily because you’ll need more retaining walls, structure, drainage will be more critical and footings could be more extensive.

A cross slope – ie from slope which slopes from one side of your block to another can more costly than one that slopes from one end to the other of your property.


Trees DiagramTrees

The existence of trees, especially large ones on your property can be an issue. Trees are becoming bigger and bigger problems especially in Brisbane City Council we’re seeing more trees protected and at the same time being harsher in their allowance of tree removal in the past. Protection measures and your ability to build near trees can have an impact on what you can do in your backyard.


Access DiagramAccess

This is a really important thing to consider. Lack of or difficult access to a site for construction purposes can have a major effect on potential costs. This access refers to off-street and to areas where construction would typically occur. Eg: the backyard.


Acces DiagramStreet Verge (footpath)

It’s important to keep an eye out for what’s happening on the street verge. Many people ignore this or mistakenly think they can do what they like with or on it.  Power poles, trees, bus stops, service pits etc will restrict what you can do on your property.



Keep in mind that neighboring buildings can pose a concern for privacy or blocking views, air, and direct sunlight.  What can your neighbours do and how might this affect you down the track.


Views & PrivacyViews & Privacy

You should be aware of and consider the views. Who can see into your block and what can you see from yours – both good and bad.  


Be aware this isn’t an exhaustive list, and other factors may affect your property.

Easements & Services

The location and availability of the Service and Utility network can affect your costs and what you can achieve on your property.The location or evidence of infrastructure and services can have a major impact on your property’s renovation potential. As it might restrict or limit what you can achieve on your property and where you can do it.

Critical guidelines and approvals could be required if these are present on your property and you want to build near or over them.

Any Rules and Restrictions

Local Councils have rules and regulations that apply to every property. It’s important to find out what, if any restrictions apply to your property and what they mean for specifically for you.

There are lots of these but here are some of the more common ones.

Firstly understand:

Councils ZonesWhat is your property zoning?

Land in all areas is divided into zones. These zones guide the land use or type of development that may occur on a site.

Zones are mapped out and have different levels of assessment. The criteria and intent for a particular zone are laid out in its Zone code.

Residential zoning provides for a variety of housing choices to meet community needs now and in the future. These zones identify where different types of housing can occur.

Residential Zones you should be aware of: [while bearing in mind these Zones relate specifically to Brisbane City Council, the general intent is applicable to most situations, so it’s really important you find out the code or zone related to your property in your local area to understand exactly what it means for you. It may be wise to talk to a town planning professional also.]

 Character Residential and Low-Density Residential zones allow for residential houses and small ancillary buildings only.

CR1 & CR2  – Character Residential 
Zoning includes houses that are built before 1947 and  small ancillary buildings. 

LDR – Low Density Residential
This zone is a general residential zoning includes houses that are built post 1947 and  small ancillary buildings. 

These are the two most desirable Zones to increase your renovation potential.

LDMR – Low-Medium Density Residential
This Zone a
llows a mix of houses and apartment blocks. Height restrictions apply depending on the zoning.

LMDR1   2 strorey mix
LMDR2   2 -3 strorey mix
LMDR3   up to 3 storeys

LMDR is less desirable zone because there is always the possibility that a unit block could be built next door to you at any time.


Neighbourhood PlanDo any Neighbourhood Plans apply?

The next level of development controls other than zoning. They include standards for new development and reflect improved infrastructure such as new transport routes.’ Council considers local environmental, social and economic factors, along with the management of population growth, when preparing a Neighborhoodrhood Plan. The plans help facilitate economic prosperity, protect character development and provide for open space. They include standards for new development and reflect improved infrastructure such as new transport routes.’

Council OverlaysWhat Local Council Planning Overlays apply?

An overlay is a layer of a Councils, City Plan relating to a specific topic – like flooding, Character or heritage.  All overlays are mapped and form part of this City Plan.  An overlay may apply to all or part of your property and your property can, and usually will be affected by more than one overlay. Overlays can affect the type and level of development assessment as well as design requirements like building height, landscaping or vehicle access.

Most overlays have an associated  ‘code’ that lists the criteria to be addressed in your development application.

It’s important to know which apply to your property as they can have a big effect on your ability to achieve your goals and on your construction costs.

Base your decision to renovate on fact not an assumption

Applying all these topics to your property allows you to understand its potential to be renovated to meet your needs and allows you to assess what is actually possible with your land.

‘’Base the decision on whether or not to renovate your home on fact, not an assumption.’

Then you can accurately assess whether or not your home can become the home of your dreams or whether you’re ‘just dreaming’

I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s better to know this before you’ve invested time and money chasing a rabbit down a hole only to find out that your projects dead in the water or about to become an exercise in compromise and disappointment.

In later posts, we’ll explore some real-life examples of renovation potential that we’ve worked through with our clients to help you assess your own property.

Keep in mind renovation should and can be an enjoyable, rewarding and low-stress experience with the right approach and help.

We can help

If you are looking at buying a renovator or are thinking of doing something with your current home and want to understand more of what’s possible and how much it might cost. Buildit123 can help. Learn More

CONTACT US today for an obligation free chat… You’ve got nothing to lose but an enormous amount to gain.

While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, Buildit123 Pty Ltd does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. It’s important to always seek out information and advice about how these issues pertain directly to your property and situation.and to engage an expert to give you detailed advice pertaining to your situation.

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