From ‘worst house’ to haven: Gold Coast flippers’ 6-month miracle

Homeowners Ivanka Kovac and Craig Rowsell have listed their Mermaid Waters property. Picture: Glenn Campbell
These seasoned house flippers transformed the worst house on the best street into a luxury coastal haven in just six months amid a construction crisis.
Located in one of the Gold Coast’s most popular beachside neighbourhoods, the deceased estate was the latest in a long line of renovation projects for Ivanka Kovac and Craig Rowsell.
The couple purchased the 600 sqm property 12 Bowline Rd, Mermaid Waters in March. It’s now marketed for auction on October 14 with Travis Miller of Ray White Burleigh Group.
“It was pretty hectic,” Ms Kovac said.
“We could see the mould on the ceiling and peeling wallpaper from the listing, but it was far worse than that. Rats had eaten out the gyprock. The frame was entirely moulded, and there was quite extensive water damage.”
The house was renovated over a 6-month period
The original pool was revamped
Outdoor barbecue kitchen
They knocked the house to its slab, rebuilding a modern home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a versatile home office or fifth bedroom.
Dubbed ‘Casa Al Mare’, the home has three entertaining areas and a state-of-the-art kitchen with a butler’s pantry, plus outdoor barbecue kitchen and fire pit overlooking the revamped original pool.
The project was finished on schedule, despite rising costs and labour shortages.
“We designed the house as if it was our own. They are real passion projects. I think that is a real positive because you’re designing from the heart,” Ms Kovac said.
The “expensive hobby” means co-ordinating trades professionals while managing day jobs outside construction.
BEFORE – peeling wallpaper, mould and extensive water damage
It was a deceased estate
Ms Kovac began her property journey two decades ago, aged in her early 20s, with a studio apartment in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
“Trying to buy your first home even then was relatively expensive. You went for the grassroots locations and the goal was to be able to get out of the shoebox and get a bit of space,” she said.
For those eyeing the renovation game, Ms Kovac advises cultivating a deep understanding of the industry.
“People can lose a lot of money and time if they leave it in the hands of someone that may not do the right thing by them, or has a conflict of priorities,” she said.
“Whether it has come from experience or through some light education, knowledge is important and it will definitely help in the renovation journey, as well as knowing a couple of good key tradespeople you can trust to take along with you, ideally from project to project.”
AFTER – light-filled living spaces
Modern fixtures in all the bathrooms
A home to love
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PropTrack’s Quarterly Home Values report shows house prices in Mermaid Waters rose 4 per cent over the hree months to September to a median of $1.58 million and 5.27 per cent over 12 months.

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