Renovation case study

First-time renovators-for-profit Kobi Boaron and Sagi Mitlin have transformed a 60s apartment block in St Kilda East. Taking advantage of the spacious rooms with high ceilings, the pair has created 12 chic, contemporary residences that are filled with light. Jackie Goldberg asks them for some insights on the project. 

What were you looking for in a property? 

We love the generous floorplans and the high ceilings that old buildings have to offer. Our goal was to adapt the block to work for efficient modern living. It was also important to us to have at least one car space per residence, and for the property to be within walking distance of public transport. 

Are there types of properties you would avoid? 

We’ve never been big fans of new builds and we try to avoid large body corporation fees or members. We renovated all the common areas and replaced most of the electricity and plumbing for the entire building – imagine making those decisions between 12 and 40 or even 80 owners. 

What are the benefits of an older block? 

When the first apartment blocks were constructed, land wasn’t as expensive as it is today and developers had to try to entice buyers to replace their dream of a large house with a good-size apartment in a prime location. 

Those buildings have been around for about 60, maybe even 100 years. We are confident they will last for another century. New construction, influenced by a disposable society, is not always made to the same high standards as older blocks, or with the same generous living spaces. 

Where can you save money in a renovation? 

Experience and luck. When you take on an old property, you can only hope that the person who built it did the right thing. Even then, time takes its toll on the building. 

What’s worth splurging on? 

Bathrooms are labour intensive so fitting them is not where you try to save; nor in kitchens, as they are the heart of the home. Overall though it depends on your budget. 

Which materials do you recommend? 

We used engineered oak flooring. It’s easy to get carried away but, in general, when you are spending this kind of money you don’t want it to be cheap and inefficient; you also don’t want to overcapitalise by putting double glazing on all the windows. 

 For further information on apartments at 42 Alexandra Street, St Kilda East, contact Dion Besser on 0412 556 443.