My story

A pictorial history of the changes I did to my PPOR

Hi all,

As I'm rather bored this evening I thought I would create a post covering the improvements I have done to my PPOR. The subsequent increase in value has now placed me in a position to release the equity and purchase my first IP. It's pretty long but it has heaps of pics.

I bought this property as it is extremely close to work which was my main requirement.
It is also very well situated between the two major roads heading north out of Adelaide. (Main North road and Port Wakefield Road) and I also have two major shopping centres about 5 minutes in each direction.
It was also cheap being in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide which suited my budget at the time.

The first thing I did was to rip down the rickety shade cloth structure which completely surrounded the house and built a 100sqm veranda on the back of the house which also wrapped around the side and created a further two undercover parking spaces.

The reason this was the first job I tackled was to provide shelter for my dog and also to provide shelter for some of my cars and equipment.

Unfortunately to do this I had to cut down 4 fantastic fruit trees which was a shame but they were poorly positioned and had to go. Luckily I was able to retain the peacherine tree right down the back corner of the yard.

Below are the pics showing the original structure, the new verandah and the pile of rubbish created in the process

Then I got stuck in and built the shed. As a collector of 1960’s and 1970’s Aussie Muscle Cars I really wanted somewhere to work on and restore them. I couldn’t fit in my dream shed but this one will do for now. With the shed, the verandah and the small garage under the main roof I can store 5 cars under cover and out of view of the street. Unfortunately I have 7 cars!!

I initially though of taking the wheels off and just leaving them on the front lawn as they do in many of the northern suburbs (probably some of your tenants) but I have more pride in my home and respect for my neighbours than that.

First I had to clear a spot for the garage and this was no mean feat.
The previous owner (who built the property) was relocating to Brisbane and left plenty of rubbish around for me to sort out!!!
A lot of time was also spent trying to figure out the level for the floor of the shed as I wanted it to be flush with the planned paving under the verandah. This obviously affected the whole construction of the shed with regards to the height of the walls etc.
This involved planning the fall of the paving from the house and I must have got it right as it worked out perfectly. (I was actually never confident I had got it right until I laid the pavers!!)

Now that I had somewhere secure to store my cars and equipment I decided to get stuck in to the front yard. When I bought the property the front garden looked like the previous owner had walked through a nursery and literally selected one of each plant. It was a shocker.
Even the real estate agent described it as ‘busy’
Some of the plants were very nice though and I was able to get the neighbours to dig them out for me in return for getting to keep the plants. :)

I then had to level the area. This created a lot of left over soil so I heaped it at one end of the garden and made a feature mound out of it. I only used plastic garden edging as the finances at that time didn’t stretch to the stone border that I wanted. Hopefully I’ll get around to that soon.
I installed pop up sprinklers for the lawn and a dripper system for the garden bed.
I planted a seed lawn which actually worked really well. However, a year or so later it became infested with lawn beetle which completely killed it off. By this time I had installed roll out turf in the back yard so over a space of a few months I transplanted cuttings to the front lawn and these have now spread and covered it completely.
Here’s a few pics detailing the front garden makeover.

From there I moved on to the backyard. I had five weeks annual leave and spent most of it working harder in my own yard than I ever would at work. (I hope my boss doesn’t read this!!)

I ordered the pavers (130sqm) and had them delivered. This was 7 pallet loads. Luckily the forklift was able to fit under the verandah and place them out the back for me.
I got someone in with a bobcat to dig up all the old concrete which was extremely poorly done by the previous owner. The bobcat also ripped up all the old lawn/weeds and roughly leveled the yard for me.
I got the same guy to deliver the road base material to create the solid base for the paving as well as a few tones of paving sand.
Then it was time to start paving. Over 1300 of the bloody things. I got it done in 5 days and this included Christmas day. I wore out 5 pairs of gloves and was so sore that I couldn’t stand up straight for two weeks!! It looks bloody good though. I must also admit that I have never done any of this type of work before so I learnt a lot of very valuable skills.

Once the paving was done and the edges secured with mortar I got stuck in to the lawn. I got a few tonnes of sandy loam delivered and levelled it out.
I also installed pop up sprinklers for the lawn
The lawn is a sterile kikuyu and I have been extremely happy with it although it needs a bit of work to keep on top of during the warmer months. It’s very hard wearing though yet soft under foot.

I also got busy and erected a garden shed (can’t have those garden tools cluttering up my car shed now can I?) and also painted the rear fence to tidy it up a bit.

Next was to create a garden area out the back. I was originally going to use fancy stone walls but in the end decided to use treated pine sleepers to keep the cost down.
I did use some stone wall in one section for a bit of a feature though. The wall is not finished yet as I need to get one of the bricks cut in half so I can stagger the two layers and then I can rebuild it and actually glue/mortar them in place.

I also cleaned up the area down the side of the house which had more of that dodgy concrete. I had a few large concrete pavers laying around so I used them and a bit of gravel to tidy it up.
This was meant to be a temporary fix to clean that area up prior to the valuation and I was eventually planning to carry on the paving down that side. Once I finished the job though I decided I liked the way it looked so I will leave it like that. I am concerned that I forgot to place weed mat under the gravel though. That will probably come back to haunt me!!

I also installed some bamboo screening on the fence as the cream coloured fence made it unbearably bright when sitting out the back. It was also causing the plants to burn very badly. The screening has helped soften the look of the fence and the plants are now thriving

That’s it for now. I still have to install a gate down the side of the house and replace the metal gates on the driveway side with an electric panel lift door (I don’t have the height available for a roller door)

All up I have spent $20,000 and last month the property was valued at $50,000 more than I paid for it. This is in Elizabeth South which has one of Adelaides lowest median house prices and very slow growth.
I paid $165,000 for the property 3 years ago which was probably about $10,000 above market value. I was aware of this and made an offer above asking price (amidst fierce competition) to secure the property as it was in the perfect location for me. I have probably saved that $10,000 in fuel costs as work is now an 8 minute drive as opposed to a 40 minute drive each way from my previous rental accommodation.
The house was cheap which means a low mortgage and I now have equity available to take my first steps in to the world of property investing.

Once I have my first investment property up and running I intend to refurbish the inside of my house. It is 17 years old and is looking a little dated although is still perfectly respectable and functional.
I don’t intend to move from this place until I have the available finances to build my dream property so I will definitely get the benefit from the outlay.
I am also hoping that once the interior is modernized that I will once again be able to have it revalued (along with the IP) and have enough equity to purchase my second IP.
That’s the plan anyway.
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Excellent photos.

It's like on those renovation TV shows except without all the models walking around the house. The dog looked like a big help though :)

Sounds like you are building a strong base for further investing, well done!
Mate, that looks fantastic! I bet the neighbours love you! Top job. Any chance of getting some pic of your cars (other than the red Monaro which seems to be in every second shot, hee).

more pics

I don't have a lot of pics of my cars as they are all restoration projects and not really worth photographing at the moment but I did come up with a few which inadvertantly featured the cars.
The red GTS is currently undergoing a complete restoration and every step of the way is being documented.

The current list includes

1969 HT Monaro coupe
1972 HQ SS
1973 HQ GTS Monaro (sedan)
1973 HQ GTS Monaro (parts car)
1974 Ford XB Coupe
1974 Ford XB Coupe (parts car)

There is also a pic of my 1975 HJ GTS Monaro (the blue one) which I have now sold. I built that car from a bare shell over a three year period.
It was highly modified but now I am into original style restorations.

My dream property will have a separate shed for storing the cars and also another for 'works in progress'.
Man stuff the house those cars are prime I used to have a HJ ute at the same hieght as the blue one you had also same colour and rims/tyres. mine was running a 308 backed by a t400 the motor was nothing flash but. had a niced edged toune all the nice chrome trims and twin headlight front end. Damn I miss my poor ute.
Wow, what an excellent read. Now I want to go out and start landscaping our yard!
I love how you say you paid more than market value when you purchased the house, but 3 years later, aren't you glad you paid that extra 10 grand.
My husband's mate has a HK Monaro (Bathurst model or something?) in original condition, and is tempted to sell it after he saw that auction the other week of that XY GT for over half a million.
Darren, well done on the renos (house that is)....looks so much better. I think you've more than earned every $1 increase in CG for this property. That's a lot of hard work you've put in there, and to your credit, it looks stunning. I like your financial plan/strategy for the should do very well with it. Keep the pics coming...they are so inspirational for me.
Best thread I've read for a while. I checked out every pic. You are amazing!
Having a nice new house built beside you instead of a vacant corner block should have increased your house value on its own.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour, you deserve every bit of it.:)
Hi Darren,
You've done a great job mate,
shortening your travelling time to work and saving on fuel is a winner too.
Very well done Darren!

I too looked at every pics and really enjoyed the read. Keep us posted on the inside renos.
Great job Darren! The outdoor area looks very inviting now. The seven pallets of pavers made me groan for you though! Good on you for doing it all yourself without having done it before. That is a very admirable effort. The same can be said for the front garden. I bet some of your other neighbours feel inspired and will follow suit.
Great Job

Hi Darren,

Incredible job mate, second to none. I am based in Adelaide and just bought my first IP. Mate need some handy tips to reno my IP.

Hi Darren,

You have done a fantastic job, I bet you love just sitting out the back with your dog and looking at the end result.
The first thing we did to our place was extend from a 1 car to a 3 car garage.


Thanks for all the comments everyone.

Unfortunately the neighbours have not been inspired by my efforts.

Next door is a housing commission house and she mows the lawn approximately every six months.

I have my eye on that place and if it ever comes up for auction I will be doing some serious bidding.

There are several reasons for this.

1. I get to control who my neighbours are (very important)
2. I can landscape it and add value (to both places)
3. I can build a big shed in the backyard (with access from my place) and use it to store some car stuff. I'll fence the back half of the yard off and rent the house out.

The people in the brand new place have also done absolutely nothing with their yard since they built the house. The front yard is still dirt after a couple of years!!

They are lovely people though and they were telling me that their young daughter keeps asking them why their yard looks so crappy and mine looks so good. Take the hint I think!!!

For those of you interested in my cars. Check out my pics at

There's also some excellent pics from my work. If you're a fan of fighter aircraft and military stuff it's worth a look.

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Hey Darren, great thread! Well done on the makeover. Am interested in doing this myself too, just need some advice from a pro ;)

1. How much did it cost you to get someone in with a bobcat to remove the concrete and level the place?
2. "I got the same guy to deliver the road base material to create the solid base for the paving as well as a few tones of paving sand." - What exactly is the road base material? how much did that and the paving sand cost?
3. "Once the paving was done and the edges secured with mortar" - What did you meant by mortar? cement?