Looking past the Flaws of a Diamond in the Rough

Looking past the Flaws of a Diamond in the Rough

Large blocks suitable for development are becoming a rare opportunity in Hawthorne, however, every so often the opportunity arises.  Perhaps you’ve been considering trying your hand as a small scale Developer, or you been looking to build your “Forever” home, but couldn’t find a large block?

Over the past decade, there has been a strong interest from small scale Developers or investment property opportunists to lock in a large or double block (810m2 is the minimum) in which to generate wealth from. I have encountered many Mum and Dad Developers, all searching for the ticket to financial freedom, some find it and some are still working 60hour weeks for The Man!

Depending on zoning, budgets, and the property itself, the normal practice is either take a double block, subdivide and put 2 homes on smaller allotments (usually 405m2), or create a small block of apartments or townhomes. Some others really go to town and create a forever home, which they either live in or sell to an exclusive niche market. Whichever path you chose, the goal is to make a profit.

With every potential “Gem” you find, there are likely flaws, but you can make the best out of a bad situation – they make Diamonds out of coal, right! Like diamonds, with property, there is no such thing as “Perfect”. In this area, the two typical “flaws” you are likely to find are Demolition Control Precinct (DCP) and Floodpaths.

In 4171, we are a Demolition Control Precinct – roughly translates to if the property appears on a Brisbane City Council aerial photo prior to the mid-1940’s (or thereabouts), you are subject to maintaining some of the heritage features of the house. Do not, I repeat DO NOT be scared by this “issue” as we were. Since moving into the area, we have witnessed the up cycling of multiple Pre-War properties and looking at the finished houses today, you would never believe they were ever a Pre-war home. Unfortunately, we were frightened off the purchase of many a home by this controversial aspect, and as they say “hindsight is a marvellous thing”.

However, Post War property opportunities open up a whole can of alternative choices, as the DCP ruling does not apply. You can even bulldoze it to the ground. Depending on the block size and the zoning, the property market is now your playground.

After DCP conditions, the next biggest flaw in the property options is Flooding.  You may recall we have had 2 significant flood events in Brisbane in the past 50 years. In 1974, in what was considered to be the largest floods to affect the city of Brisbane in the 20th Century, resulted in flood mitigation measures and the construction of the Wivenhoe Dam in 1976 to help control repeat devastation – no doubt our stormwater infrastructure was possibly quite antiquated and inefficient as well. More recently in 2011, the Brisbane River broke her banks and inundated streets with widespread flooding, or stormwater systems backflowed unable to discharge to the already swollen river.   The good news is that a series of one-way flow systems have been implemented in the Bulimba and Hawthorne stormwater catchments to reduce any future repeat.

That being said, there is an overland flood zoning through a good portion of areas in Bulimba and Hawthorne. “Overland Flood” is when in the event of heavy and prolonged inundation of rain the stormwater system is at capacity and water backs up in the underground pipes, spills out of manholes and kerb side grates and floods over low land. This type of flooding usually recedes very quickly when the rain slows.  The BCC has recognised this problem, and as a result, houses in those areas impacted by overland flood can build their property with an additional height beneath the ground floor, giving water an escape path and keeping the house and contents dry. (subject to development application of course). The upside to that, you get better views and catch better breezes.

So, how to mine that piece of coal and turn it a gem? Well here’s a little success story for you… Recently a property located in McDonald Street underwent a successful recreation. Sitting in an immediately known overland flood pathway, it was initially purchased as an old post war home with no room to swing a cat. In careful consultation with architects, the property has the ground floor raised up from the surface level and now features a modern two-storey masterpiece with pool. The block is only 740m2 but sold earlier this year upward of $2.6Million. This could be you!

Without risk, there is no reward. If you are prepared to work with your architect, think outside the box and build a masterpiece, then you can reap the rewards of your own stunning creation.

For further information, please contact me propertymumma@gmail.com

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