How to maximise financial returns from renovating
Don’t over Capitalise – should be every renovators mantra
The important thing is to make the combined effect look more expensive than it actually is – not only impressing your visitors now but future purchasers as well.
Overspending on slightly better fixtures or materials makes a marginal difference but eats into your potential profit, so think long and hard before committing to your dream renovation, you may be throwing money away.
Now, we do not advocate cheap materials and budget builders, just avoid getting carried away with incremental improvements or before you know it you will be installing $300 toilet roll holders because of their marine grade stainless steel construction or superior chrome plating. This type of overkill is fine if you intend to stay put for many years but with nearly 43% of Australian families with children moving at least once every 5 years, most people simply don’t own a house long enough to appreciate the subtle improvements.
It’s terribly obvious but much of a buyer’s judgement of a house is based on their first impression and this means the exterior of the property. Creating an element of love at first sight is a great strategic move. Most prospective buyers will then overlook many more potential problems in a house’s layout or interior.
A personal connection with the property can also result in buyers bidding or offering irrational amounts beyond their planned budget maximum. Tidying paths, replanting grass, renewing rusting guttering and repainting facia boards and are all cheap and easy ways to create a positive first impression.
Kitchen and bathroom
Generally bathroom and kitchen makeovers offer good return on your investment but if you are thinking of selling in the near future you may wish to do a simple makeover instead. Most new homeowners want to put their own stamp on their new home and will typically target the kitchen and bathroom first.
Clean the kitchen and bathrooms – remove anything dirty or obviously outmoded, such as chipped or mismatched tiles, bad paint choices and aging appliances. Chipped laminate or stained and dirty tiling grout should be cleaned or removed and renewed.
If kitchen cupboard doors are plain and in good order, think about upgrading by just adding new handles. This will bring the kitchen back into the present at very little cost. New tapware in the kitchen and bathroom have a similar ‘bang for buck’ effect.
If you do decide to do the complete kitchen or bathroom renovation keep the sanitary ware simple and white and any new tiling free of features that others might find hard to live with – not everyone enjoys a fish motif in their bathroom or fruit and vegetable feature tiles in their kitchen, no matter how handcrafted and tasteful they might be.
Remedying obvious defects that look expensive to repair such as water marks, damp or mould on walls, or rot in timber window frames and fascias, should be at the top of your list. It might be tempting to simply paint over these types of problems but most building surveys will highlight these faults and make buyers uncertain.
Anything that makes the potential purchaser worry is likely to deter them from making an offer – particularly in our current buyers market.
Increasing natural light
Good light in a house makes a huge impression, lifting the spirits of everyone who steps inside. Adding skylights to dark internal rooms or opening up areas with bi-fold doors or larger windows is always rewarded by a higher sale price.
When selling a house or apartment removing curtains might not be practical in the long term but will make the house feel lighter and brighter during viewings and the new owner can solve the privacy problems as they see fit later on.
Mirrors are another way to increase light in the home – just avoid mirrored wardrobes as they are terribly 80’s and anti the modern, tasteful look most people are after.
Avoid feature walls or other personal colour choices as colour is subjective and many people will just paint over them anyway. Think serviceable, clean and neutral and allow future buyers to add their own personality once the house is theirs.
While there are hundreds of slightly different whites these days, avoid those that are too heavily biased toward yellow or (god forbid) apricot as this can make rooms look highly dated. A slight grey tint is acceptable but will make the rooms a little cold and impersonal looking.
The best option is a compromise – a touch of black and touch of ochre to create a slightly soft but clean white such as Taubmans’ ‘Whisper White’ or Dulux’s ‘Fair Bianca’ (at half strength).
Whites with a small element of taupe are also a good way to go but be careful to avoid it being associated with ‘rental beige’. When partnered with white make sure your chosen colour doesn’t take on a slightly ‘dirty’ look.
Timber floors are becoming the norm in Australia with most people opting only for carpets in bedrooms unless they live in colder regions. When renovating existing timber flooring try to match the existing as closely as possible or replace the floorboards entirely so as to create a flowing effect from room to room. This will give the impression of a larger floor area and make small rooms feel part of the whole.
Remember too that darker colours like Jarrah or effects like black Japan make floor areas appear smaller, while pale floors add brightness and apparent size.
Low maintenance is the preferred option for most people so be careful that your choice of materials don’t make any potential buyer feel they have years of hard graft ahead of them – this can be a very off-putting and reduce the perceived value of the home.
Exterior natural timber is a big culprit in this regard but heavily planted complex gardens are also a potential turnoff for many people. If possible include self-watering systems in your garden scheme.
Australians love to barbeque so creating any type of outdoor area such as a patio or timber deck where this might take place will add real value. Even if this area is initially quite small, the act of having the space will show the potential and subsequent owners can extend if they are big outdoor entertainers. Installing natural gas outlets is a sensible option for outdoor areas as is softening the edges of desks and paving with planting to create a soft transition from inside to out.
Incorporating plenty of storage into your renovation is not only practical for day to day living but will also allow the house to appear immaculate during viewings when it comes time to sell, with all unsightly items put out of view (particularly exercise equipment!).
In the same way an organised garage will create a great first impression for potential buyers and indicate a clean, well maintained property.
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