Melbourne’s heritage streets are changing drastically behind closed doors as period facades hide incredible extensions and renovations.
Mullets aren’t just in fashion on the football field and in schoolyards, as ‘mullet houses’ become the norm in Victoria’s transforming affluent inner and middle suburbs, where local rules ensure character of streetcapes are kept.
But it’s well and truly a party in the back, with keen renovators in Boroondara spending the most in Victoria on doing up their homes since July last year, splashing more than $200m combined.
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New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Boroondara homeowners forked out $244,024,163 between July 2021 and April 2022 — the most of any Victorian local government area.
The area has a median house price of $2.5m, up 12.2 per cent from June last year, according to PropTrack data.
Stonnington came in second for total spending with $235,855,715, and has a median house price of $2.372m, while the Mornington Peninsula rounded out the top three with about $226m worth of work and a median house price of $1.25m as of June.
The ABS data encompasses building approvals for any significant renovation, which it classifies as alterations and additions, including conversions.
Not every renovation undertaken needs council or shire approval.
The data comes as industry experts say the coronavirus-driven boom of renovating has now dwindled with buyers opting for already renovated homes.
Altlas Architects co-founder Aaron Neighbor said this was a result of rising materials costs and interest rate hikes.
“Up to 12 months ago we were doing a heap of renovations and I think with the HomeBuilder scheme … there was definitely that incentive,” Mr Neighbor said.
“At the moment, we find prices have inflated in the time (between designing and getting council or building approval).
“It’s tending to be quite expensive and a lot of people are finding they have to re-evaluate their project.”
But Mr Neighbor said clients with “more savings”, those who were older, or who were renovating their forever home were still going ahead with their plans.
“It’s the younger people who are trying to renovate on the cheap or one of their first or second homes, they’re the ones that might run into difficulty with how much it is going to cost,” he said.
A typical project, or “makeover” — including a new kitchen, bathrooms, an extension and a revamped facade — cost at least $700,000, he added.
Buyer’s advocate Nicole Jacobs agreed properties with an A-grade renovation were proving popular.
She said ‘mullet houses’ — homes with an older or original facade and new extension at the rear — had become of particular preference.
“For homes with heritage overlays, many councils allow an extension on the back as long as it looks like it’s from a different era than the facade,” Ms Jacobs said.
“A lot of people appreciate the (original) architecture and then put in a modern back end to meet the standard of living these days.”
She said this included making sure the home was environmentally friendly and “captured the sun and northern light”.
These mullet-style houses are on the rise in affluent inner Melbourne suburbs such as Hawthorn, where 7 Kent St is on the market for $1.8m-$1.98m.
The home was built in 1900 and its facade holds heritage status — making it more difficult for vendors Kyle and Emma Parker to gain renovation approval from the council.
“I think more people trend towards properties that are established and finished, as it can add six to twelve months to get approval for older, heritage properties,” said Mr Parker, who is also a builder.
The couple bought the dwelling in its original condition in 2015 for $952,000, according to CoreLogic.
Mr Parker then undertook an extensive renovation project, adding a glass-topped, underground wine cellar and ripping up the backyard and rear of the home, leaving behind the heritage facade and two original bedrooms.
The Parkers have lived in the stylish pad since with their three children, Elle, 4, Bobby, 3 and Hugo, 1.
“I’ve done a few renovations like this for other clients — they’re quite popular,” Mr Parker said.
The family are now upsizing to another Victorian, which they also plan to turn into a ‘mullet’.
Belle Property Balwyn principal director and auctioneer Toby Parker reiterated buyers were becoming increasingly concerned with renovation costs.
“Anything that’s finished and done, people don’t have that unknown factor that comes with planning and permits,” he said.
Despite this, Mr Parker said a lot of young couples and downsizers were still in the market for mullets, as they were looking for a home with “more character” and a “blend of old and new.”
He added these types of extensions could cost upwards of $1m.
– additional reporting by Alanah Frost
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