Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability. In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led
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Award-winning comedy writer, Ian Heydon (Kingswood Country, How Green Was My Cactus, The Samuel Pepys Show, The Year My Country Broke) recently took out an unexpected award – for writing about travelling with a disability.
In 2010 Ian was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. That led to the question – what does a writer who has a disability and who loves to travel write about? The answer was pretty obvious. Because Ian uses a cane for mobility assistance, he built a website called Cane & Able Travel and that site won the inaugural Business disAbility Award for Business Innovation in 2012.
Back in 2003, Ian had a travel book on Australia published called The Small Guide to A Big Country (Explore) and he subsequently bought a travel agent’s licence (Small Guide Travel). Much of Ian’s research for that book is still valid. As Ian says, “They haven’t moved the Sydney Opera House or most of Australia’s main attractions, so all I really needed to do was update where necessary and add the accessibility and disability facility information. It’s a bonus that the Small Guide Travel consultants can assist with itinerary advice and bookings.”
When Ian travels these days he uses both a cane and a wheelchair for getting around. “Before my diagnosis with MS I guess I felt a bit of pity when I saw other people in wheelchairs. I didn’t realise that wheelchairs give a person with a disability so much freedom. Mine allows me to get around much better at airports, especially when the boarding gate can be a fair distance from check-in, and it makes art galleries, museums and theatre so much more accessible and enjoyable.”
Ian first took his wheelchair on a trip to Dubai, London and Paris in 2012. While there are websites with attractions and disability information for those destinations in the pipeline, Ian’s first priority is writing about Australia. In late 2012 he visited Cairns and road-tested attractions like Skyrail and Quicksilver’s Great Barrier Reef as well as disabled-friendly accommodation. From this came the destination specific website, Cairns Disabled Travel.
The next cab of the rank was Canberra. According to Ian, Canberra is arguably Australia’s most rewarding destination for travellers with a disability. “There are flights from all other major cities and centres, they have an excellent public transport and wheelchair-assisted taxi system and all the major attractions are accessible, with many of them free. There’s excellent accommodation, terrific restaurants and bars and so much to see and do. It really is a fabulous tourist destination. Sure, after a couple of weeks there might be some thumb twiddling but for a few days away it is fabulous.” Ian visited Canberra in 2011 and 2013 to research accessible accommodation and attractions and the Canberra Disabled Travel website is now live.
Ian has a multi-destination itinerary on the drawing board for all Australian capital cities and major regional centres so you could see him soon in your part of the country. But the Kingswood? No, he won’t be taking the Kingswood!
After having done all the necessary research and preparation, you’re now ready to begin searching for the perfect place.
This is when it gets really exciting. You must keep your wits about you, because choosing a property is critical.
When you get to this stage, what you’re looking for is renovation potential.
You have to assess each property not only on what it is right now, but what it could be when you’ve renovated it.
Your first consideration is the state of the property. You want something that needs work, but notabsolutely derelict (unless you really like a challenge)!Then you need to think about the mood of the current market, and whether the property could meet them with optimal improvements.
Finally, you should consider how much you need to do to the property.
Some places will only need a basic style change to bring you a decent profit.
Other properties can be totally transformed, bringing them to a far superior state and unlocking higher profits.
Roughly speaking, there are three types of properties that attract renovators:The ‘Patch ‘n’ Paint’ is a solid property, in sound condition structurally but the decor is faded.
It’s begging for fresh paint, carpet, fittings and fixtures, and the garden needs a revamp.
The ‘Fixer-Upper’ will generally be older and rougher than the Patch ‘n’ Paint.
The decor still needs updating, but it also needs a kitchen and bathroom makeover.
The problem child has some structural problems.
It may have cracks in the walls or need a new roof. Possibly the wiring or plumbing is shot and needs to be replaced. These defects can be costly to put right but don’t necessarily return any value.
The ‘Knock-Down’ says it all, requiring a top to bottom restoration or demolition. These properties often catch the eye of developers, particularly if they’re in a good location, on a large block or have fantastic views. From experience, the best bets to renovate for profit are the ‘Patch ‘n’ Paint’ and the ‘Fixer-Upper’.
The amount of renovation work you should attempt will depend on your knowledge, experience, skills and contacts, but the average person are able to do up these types of places without too much trouble.
In addition, they don’t tend to have a high level of risk.
Dealing with structural defectsIn general, I advise people to avoid the properties that need structural work.
You want to spend the renovation budget on improvements that tenants or buyers can see because that’s how you get results.
Spending money fixing defects that are unseen eats into your renovation budget and you may not see a buyer who appreciates quality, therefore your profits will be reduced.
Basically, tenants and buyers expect a property to have good foundations, wiring and plumbing. They won’t pay extra for it, so the extra expenditure to fix the defect doesn’t add any value.
If you do decide to make an offer on a property with structural defects you really should get a quote to find out how much it will cost to rectify the problems so you can factor that into the maximum purchase price.
If the numbers still stack up then go for it. And, you can usually negotiate because many buyers will be scared off by the “problems”.
Don’t skimp on inspection reportsMany property investors are tempted to save a few bucks by foregoing inspection reports when buying a property.
Don’t do it! Termite infestations, dodgy wiring, rotten foundations. There are many potential problems with any structure that the average person won’t notice.
Any one of these problems could cost you big bucks. You wouldn’t buy a second-hand car for $10,000 without a $250 inspection report, so why purchase a property for several hundred thousand dollars without an inspection report for a a little more? For your peace of mind get the inspections done. For building inspections brisbane, contact Home Inspect today or visit their web site.
Meeting market demandLet’s forget about property for a minute and think about people, because renovating for profit is a people business, not a property business.
That’s because the tenants or buyers of your renovated property are the source of your money -from either the rent you receive or what you make when you sell it, so to maximise your return you must create a place that tenants will rent and buyers want to buy.
This is the golden rule if you intend to profit from renovating houses.
If you intend to hold onto the renovated property then you need to research your target tenants for the suburb.
When you match a property to target tenants you’re less likely to have vacancies, or need to discount therent just to get people in.
Talk to property managers and find out what type of properties are desirable in the area. Tell them you’re looking at buying an investment property in the area, and ask them what tenants prefer.
What sort of property is in short supply? What rents the quickest?In this suburb do tenants prefer houses or apartments? Do they want one, two, or more bedrooms? Do they require parking or not? You need to know these facts before you can make an informed decision about what to buy.
If you intend to sell the property after renovating it, the same principle applies but now you must consider the wants and needs of buyers rather than tenants.
While there are some similarities, there are differences you should cater for.
And finally, although there will be some features of the property you can improve, some features, such as the location and aspect, etc, are fixed.
You can do a first class renovation, but if the property backs onto train tracks you can expect to trouble renting and selling it.
This is why property selection is critical. I always say, you can always improve a house, but you can’t improve its location.