Renovating 1970 – 2000 homes in Brisbane

Renovating 1970 – 2000 homes in Brisbane

Renovations, Tips and Advice

Homes built from the 1970’s through to early 2000 are quite popular even though the architecture of this era tends not to be very highly regarded today. But these homes do have a number of benefits that endear them to potential buyers.

The benefits

Perhaps the number one benefit is many of the homes from this era are quite affordable. Typically smaller than many modern houses it’s common for these homes to consist of 3 large bedrooms and a single bathroom. Many have an open plan kitchen/meals area however the lounge room tends to be separate.

A few of the features that are found in these earlier homes have started to come back into vogue, such as the exposed timber which is commonly found in early 1970’s homes. Exposed internal brickwork is also making a bit of a comeback and was reasonably common among homes from the 70’s to the early 80’s.

These homes often have ‘good bones’ with solid hardwood frames rather than the pine frames of houses built today. Homes from this era also tend to be well lit, with ample natural lighting, unlike earlier post-war cottages.

The problems

But whilst they have their good points, they also have no shortage of problems that need to be overcome if they are to be brought up to modern living standards.

For example, high-set houses from this period often have ground floors that are actually just under legal head height. If you’ve purchased a home of this type that is built in underneath your options are to either not spend much and live there noting that any changes in this area can never be seen as legal habitable floor space and when you sell the home you can attempt to it on the ‘buyer beware’ principle, or to renovate and dig down, which is a particularly valid option for homes built on a slope.

These homes might let in a lot of natural light, but they tend to be very expensive to run. They commonly lack insulation and their design often allows a lot of direct sunlight to strike the windows and walls causing them to heat up significantly during the hotter months. Often built as boxes with shallow eves they can require a lot of artificial cooling to keep them at a comfortable temperature.

Homes of this era tend to be weather tight, but sometimes to the point of being poorly ventilated which can sometimes lead to dampness issues.

As mentioned plenty of these houses tended to be 3 bedroom homes and the lack of a 4th bedroom affects their resale value today. The separate lounge area has long gone out of vogue and the lack of a family room/open living space is also undesirable. In general, the floor plans of 1970 – 2000 homes have become a bit dated.

Because of this many of these homes have already been renovated or had extensions tacked on, but these haven’t always been of the highest standard. Some poorly renovated homes may have some structural issues, particularly if internal walls have been removed and doubly so if any of those walls were load bearing. If in doubt it pays to have the home inspected to see if any strengthening or additional bracing is required.

Older homes built before the days of multiple televisions, chargers and appliances may be lacking in power outlets, and although chances are the wiring itself will still be in good condition, it pays to have the wiring checked by a qualified electrician.

In regards to plumbing, any copper pipes will probably still be in good shape, but old plastic pipes might need to be replaced.

If original, the roofing on older homes may be getting towards the end of its lifespan. Any original cladding will also need to be checked. Windows may not be double glazed and therefore may benefit from being replaced to cut down on heating and cooling costs.

The solutions

So you might think after reading that list of problems that homes from the 1970 – 2000 period should be avoided at all costs, but that’s far from the case. Many of these homes have excellent potential and lend themselves perfectly to contemporary makeovers.

If you’re in the market for one of these homes it pays to look for properties with good orientation and large yards. Many of these homes are built on good sized blocks that give plenty of scope for additions and extensions.

The red brick walls from the early part of this period tend to be unattractive and even more so if they are the darker style. Rendering these bricks will give the home an immediate boost.

Homes in this era commonly have unattractive tiled floors, or slate or older style lino. Consider replacing with modern tiles, floating timber floors, polished concrete or even contemporary vinyl sheet flooring.

There are a number of options available to deal with the floor plan issues depending on your personal goals and the individual home itself. It might be possible to remove a wall to connect an isolated lounge room to the kitchen/meals area creating a more open living plan. However in 3 bedroom homes often a better alternative is to build an extension that houses the kitchen/dining/living room hub of the home and then renovate the existing home to create a 4th bedroom or perhaps even a 5th bedroom/home office. Some of these homes offer wonderful potential providing your renovation is designed by a skilled and experienced architect.

As mentioned running costs are often an issue with these homes. Adding insulation is an obvious first step in addressing this problem but that is only the beginning. It’s worth considering options for keeping direct summer sunlight off the exterior walls and windows, whilst still allowing the warm winter sun into natural heat the home in cooler months. Improving cross-flow ventilation is another important step and can be enhanced by looking at natural forms of cooling using principles like the Venturi Effect or Thermal Buoyancy.

Homes from this period are affordable and offer great potential, the key is getting a great renovation design that builds on their strengths and eliminates their weaknesses. dion seminara architecture has a wealth of experience in creating stunning renovations for these types of homes. So if you’re in the market for one, or you own one already, give us a call and let us help you achieve your homes full potential.

Dion Seminara Architect


Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 20 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.