I'll Be Back For A Profit
Laurence Fay’s much-less sinister version of Terminator gives him a huge advantage when it comes to renovating and selling, writes Joanna Mathers.
1 August 2022
When Laurence Fay walks into a would-be investment property, he channels his inner Terminator.
“It’s like [Arnold Schwarzenegger] in Terminator 2,” he says. “The way he scanned the room [for someone whose clothes he could fit] and said: ‘I want your boots, and your motorcycle.’
“When I walk into a room, I instantly get a feeling about the way it could look. I scan it for potential.”
Fay’s (much-less sinister version) of Terminator gives him a huge advantage when it comes to renovating. He’s guided a team of tradies on numerous renovation projects, giving his homes a design edge that leads to significant value gains at sale time.
And his instinct for potential has paid off in the dramatic makeover of a drab and dated home near the beach in Otaki.
'Full Gut And Reno'
Fay, a teacher by profession, specialises in renovating and flipping houses on the Kapiti Coast.
His most recent venture, just 200m from the beach, was bought via auction in December last year. It was owned by a landlord, who decided to sell due to prohibitive expenses around Healthy Homes. The 50m2 two-bedroom home, circa 1950s, was sitting on 650m2 of overgrown land and its interior was a mess.
“Nothing had been done in the house for ages; the roof was stuffed, the bathroom and kitchen were old and crappy. It needed a full gut and reno,” he says.
But it had attractive established trees to the east and north, and that incredible proximity to the beach.
Fay could see its potential. As the house was small, he knew the section would be the real selling point. There was also an existing outside shed containing a toilet, but this could also add to the appeal if renovated well.
He purchased the property for just $410,000 at auction, and went about developing a plan around how to give it star appeal.
The first renovation step was stripping back the property to its bare bones. As the house had been left for such a long time, there was little to salvage, but there were beautiful existing timber floors under carpet that could be polished.
The house was repainted, new carpet laid, and a new kitchen and bathroom installed. The kitchen, which opens up into a living space, was sourced from Bunnings – a white bench with white cabinetry offsetting the warm, rich colour of newly-polished wooden flooring. The bathroom, from Crown Bathrooms, followed the thematic of the kitchen – the dingy lino replaced with polished wooden floors, and a pristine new glass shower and white vanity echoed the kitchen’s colour palette.
Fay has an aesthetic formula that has proven very successful. He likes to use a colour scheme that partners the dark grey Resene paint Grey Friars with white paints on the wooden joinery. For this renovation, existing plywood cladding was covered with HardieFlex Sheets: a durable and cost-effective product that works perfectly in a seaside setting.
Landscaping The Star
The landscaping was always going to be the star and the property already contained various items that could be reused.
“There was a lemon tree with big rocks underneath it,” he says. “I knew that they could be used somewhere in the project.”
Fay realised he could incorporate the existing mature trees into the design and create a space that would make the house extremely popular with buyers.
He had an overriding vision around what the garden would look like and worked alongside a landscaper who understood plant placement and how to make them the star of the show.
There are many “showcase” pieces here. Fay sourced palms from Northland – queen and nikau palms were utilised. “I have a great contact up there who runs a small nursery,” he says.
Railway sleepers and pavers create a dramatic sense of motion between zones. Small gardens, planted with native groundcover and grasses, will also mature to soften the separation between spaces.
The small toilet shed was reclad, with interior lights added, toilet replaced, and an exterior shower fixed to the side for cleaning off after a beach swim.
Fay and his children Lachie (21) and Molly (19) worked together on the hard landscaping, with the landscaper finishing planting at the end of the project. Now the property is unrecognisable from its previous dishevelled life.
House Snapped Up
The project took five months to complete, with a budget of around $50,000. It was snapped up quickly by a local buyer who had just sold their own house along the road.
“She went in to see the property before the house was listed,” says Fay. “The agent didn’t have time to take it to market; she made an offer straight away. The sale of her house went unconditional the same day.”
After a little negotiation, the house was sold for $675,000 – a value increase of $265,000.
Fay’s instinct for the creation of beautiful homes has enabled him to add significant value without huge expenditure. He’s always inspired to find new ways of doing things and uses whatever he can to gain ideas.
“I look at a lot of magazines for ideas. I get a lot of inspiration from nature, I use mindfulness, and I am enthusiastic about possibilities. A lot of people get caught up in the mundane stuff, but life doesn’t have to be that way.”