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Second Time Lucky

Despite vowing never to tackle another Invercargill project, one couple returned to make their second a resounding success.

By: Sally Lindsay

1 November 2022

Invercargill is one of those rare New Zealand locations where you can still pick up a (relative) bargain. Trish Keogh discovered one such property when she decided to invest in a renovation with her partner Adam Mitchinson last year.

But it wasn’t a success. “The project took so long, it cost so much more than we expected, and we were working on the house in the middle of the southern winter, and the paint wouldn’t dry. After we finished, we sold up and decided to never to do a similar project in Invercargill again.”

Famous last words. As it transpired, the pair were later given the opportunity to renovate a three-unit dwelling with great potential. And the project was so successful it won them the runners-up prize for Resene Renovation of the Year at the New Zealand Property Investors Federation conference in Palmerston North.

ABOVE With three dwellings on 1000m2 the reno was a ‘pretty big job’.

Major TLC was needed to restore the former beauty.

TOP One kitchen was found on Trade Me, the others from Cabjaks.

ABOVE The villa’s majestic high ceilings were a real drawcard.

RIGHT Sunroom transformation after much work and new glazing.

NOTABLE PROPERTY

Keogh was back home in the Wairarapa after the unsuccessful Invercargill renovation when she received a call from a contact they’d made in the southern city. He’d purchased a rundown, 1910-era brick and roughcast villa in Georgetown in the best street in the suburb, with the aim of renovating, but changed his mind. He wondered if Keogh and Mitchinson would be keen on doing it.

“Although we’d said ‘never again’ it was so much nicer than the first house we’d done in Invercargill, and the figures were great,” she says. “So, we decided to go back down.”

Purchased from the investor (via a private sale mid last year) for $460,000, the house was notable for several reasons. It contained three legal separate dwellings (one one-bedroom and two two-bedroom units) and it was on nearly 1000m2 of land. Plus, it had potential: “It would have been so amazing when it was built,” says Keogh.

With a sunroom and majestic high ceilings, the villa was a beautiful example of its kind. But it was dreary, run down, and languishing in disrepair and needed major TLC to nurse it back into shape.

Although the homes were untenanted and almost uninhabitable, the couple made camp in the front unit (it was the least filthy) and set about renovating their new investment.

While not a complete “gut” job, the house required a full interior renovation. One of the flats had been inhabited by someone with a drinking problem, who’d moved out when the home sold. He’d left all his furniture and the house was filthy, so that had to be taken care of before renovations started.

The kitchens and bathrooms needed replacing. One new kitchen was found on Trade Me for a great price, the others sourced from Cabjaks. The remnants that could be repainted and restored where given a new lease of life.

‘Although we’d said “never again” it was so much nicer than the first house … and the figures were great’ TRISH KEOGH

GOOD CARPET NEEDED

The bathrooms were in a similar state – some aspects could be rescued, others needed replacing. Crown Bathrooms in Wellington came to the party for new showers (they visited there on the way down country) and the rest was done via different providers.

Good carpet is needed for the freezing Invercargill winters. The couple chose solution dyed nylon (“with grey and white specs to hide the stains” laughs Keogh). And the walls were repainted with Resene Double Sea Fog and Black White: “I use this for all my rentals, if there’s any damage or I need to repaint I always know the right colour.”

There was also a sunroom with windows on three sides and severe water damage. This was renovated with new glass.

External work was also needed. The existing driveway was “falling in on itself” and needed replacing as did a fence that was completely overgrown.

The fence was demolished and rebuilt, and a new driveway laid, which led around the back of the house and has space for two cars.

Other than plumbers and electricians, the couple did most of the work themselves. “We had some trouble with tradies, so we found it easier to do our own work,” says Keogh. As Mitchinson is a builder, this works well.

The house was always thought of as a buy and hold, and the three units are now rented out: the two-bedroom units for $360 and $340, and the single for $330. It’s currently cash flow positive, but with the change in interest rates things may get a little tighter when it comes to refinancing.

They’ve also grown to love Invercargill. “It was actually great, we would go on little road trips and got to know the area well,” says Keogh.

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