ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas

It’s more than 120 years since Paddy Hannan first discovered gold in the Kalgoorlie region in 1893. In that time, Kalgoorlie, or Kalgoorlie-Boulder as this twin city is more properly known, has grown to become the largest city in the Australian Outback with a population of more than 31,000. It’s still a major hub of the resources sector and is home to the Super Pit, Australia’s largest open cut gold mine, which is reputed to be so large it can be seen from space.

These days, thousands of visitors come here to learn more about the gold rush years, but there are plenty of modern attractions too. In fact, Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the starting point for the world’s longest golf course, Nullarbor Links, which stretches from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna in South Australia. The local leisure centre – Goldfields Oasis – has fantastic facilities, including a FlowRider and waterslides and there’s an all-year programme of cultural events too.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s property market

Property prices here are fairly modest by Australian standards. According to the Real Estate website, the median house price was $310,000 in Kalgoorlie and $259,000 in Boulder (as of April 2016,) with a reasonable supply of property in both areas.

Local real estate agent Matilda van Dyke who works for First National says:

“The property market has been flat here for a very long time, but I think things are turning around. I’ve sold more properties in the last two months than I have in any other two-month period. I’m the busiest I’ve been in the last four years.”

Matilda, who is a renovator as well as a real estate agent, says there is a good supply of properties from the 1930s and 1940s and that while many buyers want a renovated home so they can move straight in, there is also strong demand for not renovated properties.

“There are certainly smart buyers out there who are thinking, ‘let’s buy something ugly and make it pretty’.”

View of houses in Kalgoorlie

When it comes to making things pretty, Matilda advises renovators to do their research into recent sales so they don’t pay too much or risk overcapitalising on the property they buy.

She says kitchen and bathroom renovations are always attractive to buyers and that enhancing a property’s street appeal makes sense too. She suggests renovators consider features that create a point of difference, such as a new deck, character screening, or a bright front door. Matilda adds that repainting old roofs can improve first impressions too. She believes cosmetic renovations give a better return on investment and suggests fixes, such as swapping out or resurfacing kitchen bench tops, replacing old bathroom vanities, painting throughout and updating flooring. 

Heritage homes

If you’re lucky enough to own one of Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s heritage properties, be sure to check out the City’s Development Guidelines for Heritage Precincts and Places of Heritage Significance. The guidelines cover a range of topics, from consistency of streetscape to paint removal to choosing external colour schemes. It’s important to know, for example, that ‘all heritage buildings or modern buildings in heritage precincts require planning permission for external colour schemes.’

The City also has a Local Heritage Fund, which offers up to $20,000, ‘on a dollar-for-dollar basis’ for restoration of buildings that are either listed on the municipal inventory of heritage places or are located within a heritage precinct. Find out more (including how to make a claim) at on the Western Australia government website.

Kalgoorlie’s climate

Kalgoorlie-Boulder is known for its hot dry summers and surprisingly cool winters (temperatures can drop as low as 5C in the winter months). For strategies on optimising passive solar heating and cooling, visit the Government website YourHome. Planning your renovation with these guidelines in mind will help you make your home more comfortable for more of the year without relying on artificial climate control. It will also help keep your energy bills down.

New renovated kitchen

Waterwise renovations

As you’d expect given the climate, conserving water is a priority in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and should be considered from the outset of your renovation. You’ll find lots of tips and suggestions on waterwise renovations on the Water Corporation’s website. For example, bathrooms should include a water efficient showerhead, toilet and taps (check out their WELS rating before you buy – the higher the star rating out of six, the more water efficient the product). If you plan to install a bath, choose one with a low volume and small surface area. 

If you’re giving the backyard a makeover too, the Water Corporation recommends hydrozoning your garden (grouping plants with similar water needs together), using warm season grass and choosing plants that will thrive in the local climate, such as grevilleas, flowering gums and myrtles. The website also features a waterwise plant search function that allows you to enter your postcode to discover the plants that are best suited to local conditions.

Be earthquake aware

According to the State Emergency Service (SES), Western Australia has the highest incidence of earthquakes in Australia. It’s worth noting that there have been a couple of earthquakes in Kalgoorlie in recent years. April 2010 saw the town shaken by a 5.0 magnitude quake and, nearly four years later, a tremor with magnitude of 4.6 shook the town again. Neither quake resulted in serious injuries or significant damage to property, but it’s certainly worth checking the SES website for advice on how to minimise risk before, during and after a quake. Find out more on the SES website.

There are Read more about other with growing renovation markets in WA, like Fremantle, or Perth.

 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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