Renovating for a profit looks easy enough on television but in real life, it’s a science that takes research and practice to perfect.
Buyers agent Patrick Bright of EPS Property Search says renovators looking to make a profit should aim to achieve an average of $2 return on every dollar spent over the course of a home reno. The big question is ‘how?’
Here are some expert tips on renovating to add value in 2016 and beyond.
Open plan v privacy
Open-plan living is a feature demanded by most buyers. However, Bright says, ‘there is such a thing as being too open and having no definition’.
‘I’ve seen some renovations where they’ve just ripped out a second lounge room and opened it right up with the rest of the house. It’s not really the wisest thing to do, as you’re reducing your total living space.’
Bright advises home-owners with multiple interior living spaces to combine two areas as an open-plan area and strategically renovate additional spaces as a separate, private retreat.
Following this simple renovation rule of thumb, Rhoni Whitelaw and her partner recently renovated their 140-year-old, three-bedroom Glebe property purchased in late 2012.
The couple swapped the bathroom and kitchen on the ground floor and opened up the dining areas to create a multipurpose eating area filled with light.
Upstairs, the renovators had the same option of creating open-plan living, but instead opted to ‘keep the lounge room-sitting area to provide a private space in the house’.
‘We are part of a bigger family, so we wanted to create spaces where you could enjoy family time and have private space,’ says Whitelaw.
Recreating the outdoors
The Sydney-based couple also renovated to connect their outdoor space to their new interior eating area on the ground floor, by installing bifold doors opening from their kitchen out onto their small backyard. An awning was installed to provide shelter outside.
Melinda Woodford, stylist at online homewares retailer TheHome.com.au says all things being equal, this move should add value to the property as buyers demand courtyards that are ‘an extension of the home’.
Another way to boost the value to an outdoor space is to add shrubbery.
‘If you don’t have green fingers, some lush plants in colourful pots will go a long way in making the outdoor space inviting,’ Woodford says.
Adding shrubs or trees at the front of a house, and even a pathway to the property, will also add extra value if done well, as first impressions count.
Renovators with large outdoor areas are encouraged to ‘re-define’ smaller parts of the space to boost the purchase price of the property.
‘If you have one big paved or grass area, break it up and put a pergola over one part of it so that it is a defined entertaining area,’ says Bright. ‘And if you’ve got room to do it, whack in a built-in barbecue, so that the space becomes a ‘barbecue entertainment area’.’
Other outdoor amenities to increase the value of your home:
- A small pool plunge pool that is part of the outdoor living room.
- A carport.
- Super-tidy garage spaces, with painted floors for your car and built-in storage space.
- An outdoor kitchen.
- A remote controlled garage.
- An automated louvre roof instead of a pergola.
Attention to detail
Licensed Real Estate Agent at Richardson & Wrench Mosman Neutral Bay, Geoff Grist, believes the overall aim of any renovation worth it weight is provide a property with a homely ‘ready to move in’ look and feel.
One easy way to do this is to give your rooms and the property exterior a fresh lick of neutral-coloured paint.
Other value-adding details that won’t cost the earth:
- Proper ducted-ventilation for the bathrooms and laundry
- Heated floors in bathrooms
- LED lighting and smartphone control automation
- Security systems linked to your mobile
- Music systems streamed through ceiling speakers
- Large bathroom tiles
- Polished floorboards
- New carpet
- Butler’s pantry in kitchen to provide an accessible but concealed space for appliances like a Thermomix.
- High quality branded kitchen appliances and a built-in dishwasher and fridge that match the kitchen, if the house is pitched at the higher end of the market.
‘Buyers want to picture themselves in a home,’ Grist says. ‘So if a renovation means that a buyer can picture themselves living in a property, then they will pay a premium to live there.’
Home renovator, Tanya Southworth agrees. She and her husband just sold a two-bedroom fibro holiday house in Culburra on the NSW south coast. Having bought the property for $350,000 11 years ago when the property market attracted a high purchase price, the aim of the renovation was to upgrade the house and make the couple’s money back.
A renovation of $70,000 saw the couple open up the space between the granny flat and main house to create one spacious property, put floorboards throughout the property, upgrade the bathroom, laundry and kitchen, and add an attractive garden.
The house sold last November for $450,000 in just three weeks. Southworth says the biggest selling point of the property was that it was ‘move in’ ready.
‘The real estate agent said the place looks like a home,’ Southworth says. ‘I think that was because we focused on making it look like a lovely place that we could enjoy.
‘Always make sure that if you are going to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations are going to provide you with a good lifestyle. If you get use out of your renovations, then you will feel like it is money well spent and others will see that too.’
Download our Renovation Checklist for more tips on adding value to your home.