Exclusive: Darren Palmer Reviews The Block Glasshouse Apartments
The Block Glasshouse reviewed
How Do You Win on The Block
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked who’s going to win the block in the last few days, I’d be very rich.
The Block winners are announced by way of having the most profit after sale, which is to say the largest amount left over once the reserve is deducted from the sale price. It seems to me that when reserves are being set the things that are generally considered are location, supply and demand, square meterage, aspect, amenity, finish, comparable sales in the area and last and less tangibly emotion – or desire. If there’s something truly special then the desire to purchase the property will be higher which one would assume means the asking price can be higher.
Unfortunately for the contestants of the Block the reserve prices have been decided on the plans submitted to council, not the finished apartments, so what we have is a game of positives and negatives. It makes it fairly hard to ascertain who will come out on top. Perhaps instead I’ll give you an outline of the pros and cons of each apartment and give you my best guess.
Apartment 1 - Michael and Carlene
Second smallest apartment at 236.8 sqm internal living space.
3 Bedrooms – master bedroom with walk in robe, 2 bathrooms, powder room/laundry, kitchen with butlers pantry/scullery, open plan lounge/dining, study, upstairs internal terrace w/ outdoor shower + large indoor outdoor terrace with lounge/dining/bbq, 2 car undercover parking, on site lockable storage.
The apartment is south facing which overlooks the street with trams passing by regularly however the noise is kept at bay by triple glazing of all external windows.
Michael and Carlene have created a property that is largely broad and family-friendly but also could appeal to young professionals, singles, empty nesters and anyone with the coin to afford this prime piece of real estate. I say LARGELY broad and family-friendly as there is only one glaring issue with Michael and Carlene’s apartment - the main bathroom and the stairs to a shower. It’s design for design’s sake, which has broken the rule of form follows function. By creating something interesting that no one has ever done before, Michael and Carlene have created something that’s borderline dangerous and if not dangerous exactly, gives reason for parents and older people to have concern about slipping, falling and generally doing themselves harm should an unfortunate slip occur whilst descending wet from your shower or bath. Usually when something hasn’t been done before, there’s a good reason.
Michael and Carlene have excelled in every other part of the home, creating a family and elderly friendly staircase with a handrail and landing areas, which would give a sense of security.
There really is not much else to fault. I honestly can’t think of anything other than personal, aesthetic objects to design decisions that would put a buyer off this apartment. The terrace has the only space that is truly all weather, giving you opportunity to be out in the elements even if it’s raining, as there is a covered area as well as an open one. This is a real asset, which only lost as best terrace of the week to Darren and Dee as they added a balcony from an empty space – but we’ll get to that.
So depending on the reserve and the auction order Michael and Carlene have a good chance of casting the widest net of buyers as long as they’re not bothered by the main bathroom. Otherwise they have a consistent, coherent, well designed, well finished, well planned and very desirable apartment.
Apartment 2 - Chris and Jenna
East facing internal apartment with no outlook but rooftop area with city views.
The largest apartment on the block at 277 sqm internal living space.
3 Bedrooms – master bedroom with walk in robe, 2 bathrooms, powder room/laundry, kitchen with butlers pantry/scullery + bar, open plan lounge/dining with gas fireplace, study, grand 3 level staircase leading to a rooftop terrace w/ city views + the largest indoor outdoor terrace on the block featuring dining & bbq area, 2 car undercover parking, on site lockable storage.
Now, it must be said that Chris and Jenna had a hard ride on the Block. There were several times that they came short of expectation or came up short all together, though when it comes to the really important things to get right in an apartment they delivered in spades. The main bathroom is a master class on how to do everything right. The layout, light, storage, materials palette, lighting, accessories, tapware and general awesomeness of this room is exactly the large draw card buyers are looking for. The ensuite, whilst it fell short in terms of being completed by deadline, was finished with feedback by the judges taken into account, delivering a well thought out and successful bathroom. The kitchen, the heart of the home and a large buyer must have been also outstanding. This kitchen nailed every single detail in terms of finishes, inclusions, space, storage, lighting, inclusions delivering a room that had everything AND the kitchen sink – coated in an appealing copper coloured coating. Talk about a cherry on top.
That said, there were weak points at the end of the delivery of the rooms that meant Chris and Jenna had to spend time and money in the last 2 weeks of the block where they were working on the challenge apartment to fix up some of the styling errors and general finishing and design choices that were questionable throughout the competition. The good news for them though is that the result is far more appealing than what we saw presented on the last week when they weren’t able to finish their terrace and rooftop. When everything has been grouted, cleaned and presented in it’s best light this apartment may well be one to beat.
The largest apartment will most probably also have one of the lowest reserves as it has no outlook, hemmed in on all sides by the adjoining properties. There is however plenty of natural light so it may not be detrimental to market desire for this apartment. Auction order, if last season is anything to go by, will play its part in the sale price where possibly the buyers will become more desperate to own their piece of this amazing building the more supply drops. I said to Chris and Jenna myself yesterday when I saw them that if I was looking at buying one of these apartments, as a renovator myself, I would seriously look at theirs, as the things that you don’t want to change are perfect and the areas that are easy to revise and put my own aesthetic mark on are ripe for a refresh.
It will definitely be a good auction to watch.
Apartment 3 - Max and Karsten
Northerly Aspect with City Views
3rd largest apartment at 237 sqm internal living space
3 Bedrooms – master bedroom with walk in robe, 2 bathrooms, powder room/laundry, kitchen with butlers pantry/scullery, open plan lounge/dining, study, one of the smallest outdoor terraces, 2 car undercover parking, on site lockable storage. Secret room on title.
This apartment has broad appeal. All types of people of all ages and walks of life respond positively to this apartment and the choices made therein. This has been tested and shown by visitors to the apartment during the course of the show and also through the open for inspections.
There were comments made throughout the series about some of the glossy choices feeling cold or soulless but seeing the complete apartment with the revisions made during the 24 hour redo challenge as well as the major impact the terrace space has on softening the whole downstairs level, this apartment is now as friendly as it is clean and orderly – which adds up to a very saleable package.
When you look at the Block apartments as an investment package they stack up very well. The depreciation schedules are impressive, they come fully furnished and ready to rent as soon as you settle with all of that value covered in the sale price, which means your mortgage pays for the furniture – so if you have the deposit and the means to service the loan they’re well worth running past your financial advisors to see how they stack up for you.
Max and Karsten have used good quality inclusions, there is art in every space and for my money, and they have the best schedule of lighting and lighting choices in the whole Block. The floors are also a major draw card feeling warm and natural underfoot.
I’ve wagered that Max and Karsten may come up trumps on Auction day, though their reserve will definitely be a factor in their success.
Apartment 4 - Simon and Shannon
Second largest apartment 249 sqm internal living space
3 Bedrooms – master bedroom with walk in robe and ensuite with custom wooden bath + separate master bathroom/second bedroom ensuite, powder room/laundry, kitchen with butlers pantry/scullery, open plan lounge/dining with sculptural staircase, study, large outdoor terrace with dining/bbq, 2 car undercover parking, on site lockable storage.
This apartment is just plain cool. The brothers have folded the fabric of the apartment to become something more architecturally interesting in terms of the internal space, creating interest in the stairwell by framing the skylight with faceted gyprock, raked ceilings on the top floor, creative solutions to bulkheads and the most sculpturally interesting staircase on the Block.
Simon and Shannon also have my favourite kitchen on the Block, creating something that is new and cool without trying to be. There’s an effortless swag in this apartment that will appeal to the young and young at heart. Anyone that appreciates something edgy and interesting will be interested in this apartment – which may limit the interested parties. Not everyone is looking for a super hip super cool apartment, so the family and older market may not be as interested in Shannon and Simon’s finished result BUT I’d wager that the buyers that desire the apartment desire it a great deal which could create a bidding war.
The design in the ensuite bathroom, the massive master suite with huge walk-in is a clothes hoarders dream. All bedrooms feel consistent and well considered with only the lounge/dining letting down the apartment in terms of high end cool. If I were to buy this apartment I would consider installing a higher level of glamour and finesse into the lounge/dining to reflect the level of the rest of the apartment but with the dwindling budget the gents had to deal with they’ve delivered a very desirable pad.
Apartment 5 - Darren and Dee
Smallest apartment on the Block at 186.7 sqm of internal living space.
3 Bedrooms – master bedroom with walk in robe, 2 bathrooms, powder room/laundry with drying cupboard, marble topped kitchen with butlers pantry/scullery, open plan lounge/dining, study, upstairs balcony with city views + outdoor terrace with lounge/bbq, 2 car undercover parking, on site lockable storage.
This is honestly my favourite apartment in terms of aesthetic. There’s a homeliness and charm to this apartment that is only matched by Michael and Carlene’s, though in my opinion the buyers that are interested in one may well not be interested in the other. The style of Darren and Dee’s apartment is refined, finessed and luxurious in a very friendly way. The design alone will add a great deal of value to the apartment with hints of high end such as marble, the beautiful application of the EasyCraft Easy VJ paneling they’ve used sparingly and to huge effect throughout, the herringbone floors and the graceful and elegant staircase connecting the 2 floors.
The big draw card in Darren and Dee’s apartment is something that they created out of thin air, or a void more the point. The Balcony from the bedroom over the outdoor terrace is pure genius. This single idea has added the opportunity to take in a city view from their master suite and views can add upward of $100,000 to a selling price. By creating this private, though small, but very usable and tranquil space with a cracking view, Darren and Dee have added real dollar value to their apartment.
With the smallest floor plan they may well fall toward the bottom of the pack in terms of their reserve, though balancing that out they are also one of 2 apartments with the most desirable northern aspect so it will be interesting to see if they have the second lowest or second highest reserve.
White Knuckle Auction Night
I would imagine that all of the reserves are going to be a balancing act of southerly versus internal versus northerly aspect, weighing up square meterage, views and amenity. Deciding on the reserves is not a job I’d want to take on and I pity the poor valuer that has the task. I’d guess that Max and Karsten will have the highest reserve, Chris and Jenna the Lowest, Simon and Shannon and Michael and Carlene will be very similar with Simon and Shannon’s reserve higher due to floor space and the wildcard will be Darren and Dee.
Whatever the reserve prices and whatever the buyer interest might be I’m confident that the Block Glasshouse will have a very successful auction as, in reality, these apartments could never be built with this amount of value with the quality of design and architecture on offer, as there’s far more value in them than the market would be willing to pay for. In short whoever gets one is, in my opinion, getting a great deal and apparently a sound investment, though you should seek your own advice on what suits you and your investing agenda.
Whatever the outcome, which will no doubt hinge on the reserve prices and the auction order, the Auction will be white knuckle excitement for real estate lovers everywhere. I can’t wait to watch, this Sunday night, 6.30pm on Channel 9.