It may be something you wish to consider – there are plenty of older properties in need of renovation in New Zealand and they’re often offered at tempting prices.
It isn’t particularly expensive to renovate a property in New Zealand, as the basic materials (weather-boarding and corrugated iron) are plentiful and cheap. The main difficulty is likely to be finding somebody who will do the renovation for you.
As most New Zealanders are avid ‘DIYers’, there’s a shortage of people to do odd jobs and small property repairs. On the other hand, if you’re keen on DIY yourself, it could be the ideal solution. However, you should note that property in need of renovation is sometimes in a serious state of decline, with a rotten wooden frame or weather-boarding and a leaking tin roof. Therefore, even if you intend to do much of the work yourself, you should take advice from a surveyor or builder as to whether a house is worth saving before committing yourself to a purchase.
Don’t, whatever you do, believe an agent who says that a property will ‘make a charming home with a little work’. Also bear in mind that you’re unlikely to make a profit if you decide to sell a property that you’ve renovated, but you could make a substantial loss, as it’s easy to spend more than you could ever hope to recoup in ‘added value’.
Any new building or significant addition to an existing building must comply with town planning regulations. Consent for the work can be obtained from your local council, who will send a building inspector to advise you on what you can and cannot do and monitor the works. If you intend to buy an older building, you should check that it isn’t registered with the Historic Places Trust, as extensions and renovations to such properties are strictly controlled. Even many timber buildings which appear to have little or no historical interest are protected in this way, as they’re considered part of New Zealand’s heritage.
If you decide to build a house or renovate or extend an existing one, you should hire a builder who’s a member of the Registered Master Builders Federation (Tel. 0800-269 119, www.masterbuilder.org.nz). Federation members offer a seven-year guarantee. The Certified Builders Association of New Zealand also guarantees that its members are qualified builders (freephone 0800-237 843, Tel. www.certifiedbuilders.co.nz). Both associations strongly advise customers against paying any builder before work has been completed.