Brunswick auction: battle for dilapidated house with heritage overlay


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Ben Campbell and Vicky Mann, of Building Evolution, won the keys to a genuine project at 39 Barry St, Brunswick.

An unliveable Brunswick house protected from demolition by a heritage overlay has sold for about $70,000 above reserve — to a master builder who plans to restore it.

Building Evolution director and builder Ben Campbell and his partner Vicky Mann, also a director of the family business, snared the dilapidated 1900-built residence at 39 Barry St for $752,000.

They faced stiff competition from three other bidders, plus a further party who put their hand up virtually via new bidding website Anywhere Auctions.

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39 Barry St, Brunswick, has seen better days.

About 100 people turned out to watch the property sell under the hammer.

Mr Campbell specialises in period homes, and said he’d done “quite a few” restorations. But this would be “far and away the most challenging”, likely taking about 12-18 months.

“The building is basically falling apart,” he said.

The property will become the Collingwood-based couple’s family home once completed. They also planned to make the home “a bit bigger”.

Barry Plant’s Jarrod Crouch said the house, on a prized 353sq m block on the Dawson St corner, had been vacant for “a couple of years” before its sale as a deceased estate.

Its Edwardian-style facade was marred by peeling paint, graffiti and broken windows, and the 100-strong auction crowd was unable to inspect the house due to its condition.

Prior to the auction, Mr Crouch had expected the heritage overlay, due to the property’s position in the Brickworks Housing Precinct, to “restrict interest”.

But prospective buyers proved up to the challenge.

The buyers planned to restore and extend the house.

The property offered a 353sq m corner block.

The Victorian Heritage Database describes the precinct as being of “local historical and architectural significance” as a reflection of the development of Brunswick’s “highly important brick industry”.

Ms Mann said the home’s past had been a drawcard.

She wasted no time getting a history lesson from the vendors, whose family had owned the property for generations.

One former resident she spoke to “was one of 17 kids who lived in the house” at one point, she said.

Auctioneer Bill Karp kicked off the auction with a $600,000 vendor bid, and took about 40 rises before the hammer came down.

Brunswick had a median house sale price of $996,500 in the year to April 30, the latest CoreLogic data shows.

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