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Let There Be Light

From dingy and dark, to sun-soaked splendour, this Porirua renovation is a triumph, as Joanna Mathers explains.

By: Joanna Mathers

1 December 2021

They’ve been buy-and-hold investors for over 20 years, but the success of Megan and Bryan Rawiri’s recent renovate-to-flip project was so lucrative it added another string to their investment bow. The couple from Wellington were awarded the prize of runner-up in the NZPIF/Resene Renovation of the Year awards earlier in the year, and it earned them a tidy profit to boot.

Hidden Potential

As Megan explains, the Porirua house was viewed on a wet and cold wintry day in June 2019.

“We walked into the house and could see it was clean and tidy, but everything was damp and cold. The house got no sun and was hidden behind lots of overgrown trees which were just making the house feel wet inside and out.

“There was moss on the driveway and the flooring on the deck had rotted away in the corners with water leaking down the inside corners.”

It looked uninviting, but the couple could see the potential. The 1950’s home was structurally sound, it had a large (but overgrown) section, and space for expansion. Although it only had two bedrooms, one of these was oversized and perfect for chopping in two. And at just $367,000, the price was right.

The main job facing the couple was the removal of the overgrown trees that were blocking the sun from every direction. Megan says the pair did much of this before the settlement date (the place was empty as the owner had moved to a rest home).

“The real estate agent wasn’t very happy with us, but we had thought it was OK,” recalls Megan.

It took a full week for the trees and shrubs to be removed, but it made an instant difference.

“It let the sun in. And the sun room, which had been in the shade, finally had sun.”

Bathroom Reno

The interior work was almost all cosmetic, with a few notable exceptions. The leaking roof in the conservatory needed replacing and the room’s floorboards also needed to be removed and replaced.

Then there was the transformation of one room into two. The room was large and had wide windows; by adding a wall in the middle it was easily transformed into two small bedrooms. This added significant value to the property when it came to sell.

The dated bathroom was renovated on an incredibly low budget of $824. Megan shares that they like to recycle and look for bargains, so the existing bath was relined and other whiteware purchased strategically. The kitchen was also a bargain, with an entire reno (including a new bench) costing just $2,650 all up.

“We ended up reusing some of the cabinetry in the kitchen and just replacing the doors,” says Megan.

The couple project managed the job together and also did much of the basic work, but brought in builders, plumbers and other experts for the tricky bits. They did the painting themselves with the help of their sons; Nathan (20) helped paint the interior and Tim (22) helped with the exterior. Resene Black White was used on the walls and Resene Quarter Gravel used on the foundations outside. Resene Black White was used for the interior.

New carpet and wood-look vinyl was laid, which instantly refreshed the space.

It took a couple of months to complete the renovation (“we take ages to do them,” Megan laughs).

But the results were remarkable. The house was put on the market in October 2019 and there was immediate interest.

A Family Affair

The Rawiri’s daughter Jamie (19) has a home styling business, so she was able to use her skills to make the house look stunning before sale.

“It’s really great working as investors, because our whole family is involved. They are learning so many skills by working alongside us,” Megan says.

There were five or six offers for the property, but they eventually settled on a buyer who offered $540,000. With a renovation cost of just $40,720, this represented a clear profit of $97,520.

The house is now valued at $855,000. But rather than bemoaning the speed by which they sold, Megan says she is happy the new owners have made such a great gain.

While the pair are still committed to buy-and-hold (and have 10 properties in their long-term portfolio) they are continuing to purchase properties to renovate. One of them is a small one-bedroom in Tawa (54m2) they are intending to transform into a twobedroom unit after the success of their Porirua project.

Megan says when it comes to buying property, it’s all in the numbers and they prefer to look at older houses. “They tend to have less structural issues and be very sound,” she shares.

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