The Block 2015: What to consider when buying and renovating an apartment

Posted: 12 October 2015 1:05 pm News

The block 2015 what to consider when buying and renovating an apartment

If we’ve learned anything from The Block 2015 so far, it’s that renovating a high-rise apartment in an inner city suburb is logistically challenging.

From navigating the obstacle course that is scaffolding to waiting on excavators to transport their materials up to their apartments, it hasn’t all been peachy for the renovating contestants.

With a lift now installed to move materials from A to B, things are a little easier in terms of manoeuvring heavy tiles and appliances, but the contestants have realised that renovating a high-rise apartment certainly comes with additional challenges.

If you’re thinking of purchasing and renovating a high-rise apartment, here’s some food for thought.

Before purchasing a high-rise apartment

High-rise apartments are generally subject to certain design and planning regulations with specific conditions for noise separation, privacy and the use of private and common areas. Before signing on the dotted line, consider the following:

  • Use a site inspector to identify any structural issues, and if necessary, obtain approval from the body corporate for any required minor improvements.
  • Consider an apartment block with a progressive body corporate that may be more inclined to approve innovative or sustainable upgrades.
  • Review the local council regulations for noise restrictions and fire regulations.

Features you should look for when purchasing an apartment

  • Efficient ventilation and air conditioning with systems that assess energy consumption in real time
  • Efficient water meters that are billed individually
  • Appropriate glazing and with sufficient natural lighting
  • A practical floor plan with accessible balconies, terraces or outdoor areas
  • High level security with privacy systems
  • Effective communal recycling and waste disposal facilities
  • Communal areas and services (e.g. lift, BBQ area, carpark, gym)
  • Energy efficient lighting in frequently used areas

Can I renovate an apartment?

Under most regulations, the body corporate owns and maintains the structural components of the apartment. Generally, you won’t have the liberty to upgrade things such as joinery, appliances, plumbing or electrical work as body corporates intend to maintain the structural integrity of the property. This can limit the scope of renovation projects, particularly with regard to elements such as hot water systems, lighting and grazing.

However, some Australian body corporates are embracing sustainability and are implementing upgrades, particularly if they have a sustainability factor.

If you’d like to improve features of your apartment, consult the local council and your body corporate to see whether it would be feasible. Sharing the cost of upgrades with other apartment owners can make the project more realistic and cost-effective.

Laundry, powder room & study results

This week was arguably the hardest week so far on The Block 2015: Blocktagon as not only did the teams need to deliver three rooms in one week, but they also faced a site shut down which put extra pressure on contestants and trades.

As cash flow problems intensified (Dean and Shay have $9,000 left after this week), everyone was desperate to take out a win, with a $10,000 bank account injection this week. With each team completing the study, powder room and laundry, the judging panel handed down their verdicts.

Check out how the Blockheads went


Total score28.5/30 (winners)


The “bridesmaids” finally got a win under their belt last week, and it appears that they’re now on a winning streak.

The judges were unanimously positive in their feedback for Kingi and Caro’s study, powder room and laundry. Shaynna particularly liked the shelves in the study and praised the continuity of their "Scandustrial" theme. “I love that they keep showing us something different in the industrial area”, she said.

Neale also commented that the pair have executed their design well: “It’s got that industrial feel but it’s not obvious or in your face”, he said.

Into the powder room and the judges praises continued. Darren thought that Kingi and Caro have demonstrated good project management and confidence, “To get that organised and done in the time frame.. it requires a lot of certainty of the direction that they’re going in”, he said.

For the laundry, the judges felt that it was a well-planned space which had a utilitarian, industrial edge: “There are no bells and whistles in here, but there doesn’t need to be..”, Neale said.



Total score27.5/30 (second)


The siblings from Western Australia have copped a lot of criticism on the chin in previous weeks, which is a testament to their character. It seems that Luke and Ebony are headed in a new direction as illustrated by the delivery of their three rooms this week.

As they entered the study, the judges felt that the contestants had changed their aesthetics, and for the better. Darren felt that the study provides a theme Luke and Ebony need to continue for the remaining rooms of their apartment, and as Neale put it “It’s the death of deco.”

For the powder room, the judges believed it felt contemporary and fresh, “I think this week represents a new beginning for them..there’s a whole new energy.. it’s like they’ve put that past behind them and they’re focusing on a new direction”, Neale said.

While they felt the execution was a little “dodgy”, Shaynna believed that everything worked in harmony and that this new style will bring buyers in the door.
For the laundry, the judges felt that it was planned well and that it demonstrated how Luke and Ebony can “think outside the box” by achieving a large amount of storage.




Total score25.5/30 (third)


Dean and Shay have certainly fallen from their pedestal and for the first time in a while, their design and execution didn’t tickle the judges’ fancy. As the couple start to feel the budget pinch, it didn’t stop them from going all out with their study, powder room and laundry this week.

As they stepped into the study, Shaynna thought the heated flooring was “unbelievable” and she said that their attention to detail was “blowing her mind” as they carried the flooring to the benchtop.
For the powder room, Neale thought that the floor tile looked beautiful with the marble and metallic sheen. “There is just the right amount of glamour in here...good combination of materials and textures, a perfect Scandi jewellery box”, he said.

Neale also felt that Dean and Shay demonstrated a new energy and creativity for both their powder room and study in terms of styling and envisaging their potential buyer.

However, the judges weren’t as thrilled about the laundry. Darren claimed that it made him feel sick “This is definitely the low point of the three rooms”, he said.

Shaynna felt that the couple created more angles that made the room feel cluttered and clumsy.



Total score24.5/30 (fourth)


Andrew and Whitney started off the week on a bad note as they upset their builder and their plasterer as well as some of their fellow contestants. However, once the dust settled, the pair charged forward to deliver their three rooms.

The judging panel felt that the study was “superb” and Darren went as far to say that it was “unexpectedly good”, as they felt that the contestants created a feeling of luxury which will have great buyer appeal.

Into the powder room and the judges were dumbstruck by the bidet, Shaynna claimed that “It’s such a personal thing... I feel like it’s a waste of expense.”

The judges also didn’t like the rendered finish and Darren said it felt “bunker-ish”: “Where does it relate in terms of the rest of their house...this is a different direction.” Shaynna agreed that the render didn’t connect and that it actually jarred with the rest of their styling.

For the laundry, Darren commended the pair for their tile choice and said that the wall finish worked well with the benchtop.

The overriding feedback from the judges was that the three spaces didn’t work together and if the contestants want to move forward with one style, it should be the one executed in the study.




Total score19.5/30 (last)


Suzi and Voni have experienced some highs and lows throughout the competition, and this week was certainly on the lower end of the spectrum.

The judges felt the study was old-fashioned and dated. They also commented that the contestants misjudged the measurement of the desk as Neale couldn’t fit his legs underneath the desk comfortably.

Although Suzi and Voni continued the “gentlemen’s club” feel, Neale wasn’t convinced about their styling: “It’s kind of op-shop chic in here...boy am I disappointed. It’s missing that sense of confidence, that sense of bravado and that sense of fun”, he said.

The judges told Suzi and Voni that everything they can remove from the room, they should take out, and start again.

Unfortunately, the feedback regarding the powder room was equally negative. The judges disliked the inset chandelier as they thought it was “ridiculous”, and Shaynna went as far to say “It’s so over the top, it’s not funny.”

The laundry was marginally more successful, however Neale felt that the design was confusing: “I feel like we’ve suddenly decided to go country style in an apartment which up until now was very glamorous and very contemporary...where are we now?”, he said.

Overall, the judges felt there was a complete disconnect between all three spaces.


The next episode of The Block 2015 airs tonight, Monday October 12, at 7:30pm on Nine.

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