Living and Renovating Bunbury, WA

Beloved for its beautiful beaches and the pods of bottlenose dolphins that swim and play in its coastal waters, the lively port city of Bunbury is a great place to live, work – and renovate.

View of the port city of Bunbury
ARTICLE Persephone Nicholas 

Ideally located on the south west coast of Australia, around 180km south of Perth, Bunbury is one of Western Australia’s largest cities. It was originally home to the Noongar people and many local places have names that come from the Noongar language.
The first registered sighting of Bunbury was by French explorer, Captain Louis de Freycinet, who named the area Port Leschenault after the expedition’s botanist. Lieutenant Governor Sir James Stirling subsequently renamed it in recognition of William St Pierre Bunbury, who developed the challenging inland route from Pinjarra to Bunbury.
Whaling once played an important role in the local economy and attracted whalers from as far afield as the US. The whaling days are long gone (though it’s not unusual to spot whales in the coastal waters), but many people still earn a living on or near the water. Bunbury is now a busy port city – exports of mineral sand and alumina are shipped far afield from here.
While many regard Bunbury as a gateway to the Margaret River wine region, the city has plenty to offer visitors – and residents too. There are splendid local beaches, mangroves, forests and plenty of open green space within easy reach of the CBD. And plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops too.
View of renovated modern living room in Bunbury house

Booming Bunbury

According to the WA Government, Bunbury is one of the fastest growing cities in regional Australia. The population currently sits at around 33,000 (although the population of Greater Bunbury is more than double that at 80,000 residents) and is well-served with excellent infrastructure, including housing, retail, schools, healthcare, transport – and plenty more development planes. People who live in Bunbury, generally enjoy a very short commute, since 84% of residential properties are within five kilometres of the CBD.
Driven by WA’s resources boom, the city grew rapidly in the early 2000s and property prices rose quickly. However, the market has since adjusted and homes are more affordable now. The median property price was $515,000 at the time of writing (February 2016).

Property: old and new

Many people are attracted by the quality lifestyle Bunbury offers. And those wanting to renovate here have plenty of property to choose from. Most renovatable properties were built in the last 50 years or so, but Bunbury also has a limited supply of older, heritage properties. These can, of course, be renovated and restored, but buyers of these homes, particularly if they are heritage listed, would be well advised to check what is and isn’t possible before committing to a purchase.
For example, design guidelines for the East Bunbury Heritage Area, where there are buildings dating back to the 19th century, state that new dwellings, plus alterations and additions to dwellings (i.e. renovations) that contribute to the historic heritage value of the area should ‘respect the original character, bulk, scale and period of the existing dwelling, and not detract from the authentic historic heritage character of surrounding properties and the streetscape in general.’
The guidelines also state that ‘dwelling additions should incorporate significant features from the character of the original dwelling that is retained. This may include roof pitch and lines, scale, window orientation and sizes, materials and colours.’ Renovators should be aware that guidelines may address the skyscape, as well as the streetscape. For more information, visit The City of Bunbury website.
Stylish white marble kitchen bench with matching stools

A renovation nation

Western Australians love to renovate, according to the Westpac Renovation Report 2014, which shows home renovation here have increased 147% since 2010. The report reveals that the average renovation spend in WA was $33,365 and that people here believe renovations increased the value of the property (41%). The Westpac report found that, on average, homeowners renovate three rooms at a time and kitchen and bathrooms are the most commonly renovated rooms.
Now, more than ever, Australia is a nation of renovators – and the people of Bunbury are no exception. It’s important to remember though, that in order for a renovation to add value to a property, it must be well thought out, designed and executed. So be sure to seek the assistance of experts – and skilled tradespeople – when you need it.
For example, renovation builders, can provide a qualified and experienced team of designers, builders and tradespeople, who will work within your budget to help design and build your dream renovation.

Make the most of passive heating and cooling

Sometimes described as Mediterranean, Bunbury’s climate brings hot summers, often with a welcome afternoon breeze, and cool, wetter winters. Government website, YourHome, classifies it as a ‘warm temperate’ zone, which means, spring and autumn are the most comfortable times of year for the most people, and that optimising passive solar heating and cooling should be a priority when renovating.
Things to consider include avoiding overuse of glazing, using roof spaces as a thermal buffer zone (by sealing them in winter and ventilating them in summer), using passive solar shading on northerly windows, shading all easy and west-facing glass in summer and including ceiling fans in all living and sleeping spaces. Choosing light coloured roof materials is also recommended. 
Example of a renovation by Refresh in Bunbury, view of living room and kitchen

Image from a Refresh Renovations project. View full case study here: Apartment Kitchen Renovation

Be fire ready

The downside to Bunbury’s long, hot summers and proximity to natural bushland is, of course, the risk of bushfires. All property owners are legally required to implement fire prevention measure and penalties apply for those who fail to do so. You can find out more about the risk of bushfires and residents’ responsibilities on the Bunbury Government website. 

Fact finding

The City of Bunbury provides a comprehensive set of fact sheets to assist residents with planning and building applications on their website.

Find out more about how Refresh Renovations can help you design and execute your dream renovation. 

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If you would like to discuss options and ideas for renovating in Bunbury, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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