Top Tips for a Profitable Renovation

Revello Residence by Shubin and Donaldson Architects 8Unfortunately not all renovations add value and if you don’t want to be pouring good money down the drain it’s wise to be conscious and informed about where you spend your money. 


Beautiful Bathrooms

The bathroom is no longer just a place to get clean, we look on the bathroom as an urban retreat where we can close the door on the whir of daily life, luxuriate and recharge. In other words make it as big and beautiful as possible. Bathroom Rule #: Every house needs a bath.   A shower over the bath is preferable to removing the bath but it is ideal if you can manage both. Walk through showers are quite elegant but require some planning and skill to contain the water.

Tiling should be in neutral colours; White 600 X 300mm wall tiles laid horizontally to the ceiling provide a very cost effective but elegant and luxurious look. Floor to ceiling wall tiles may not cost as much as you think. Tilers tend to work on a day rate and you may be able to get the extra tiling done for just the cost of the tiles instead of your tiler taking early minute. While large format floor tiles look great, they tend not to work well in the bathroom as the floor needs to fall towards the floor waste and this is difficult to achieve in a small room with tiles that are bigger than 300mm square.

For particularly small bathrooms go for a wall-hung vanity, being able to see the joint between the wall and the floor will make the room look bigger. In-wall toilet cisterns help conserve space as the right selection will save about 200mm on the depth of the pan. Avoid feature tiles or borders.


Cosmetic Vs Structural

The first is the improvements that expand the function or livability of the house. These are structural in nature such as changes to the floor plan and additions, they usually cost more but the flip side is that they have greater potential to add value and the added value has longevity.

The second category is the cosmetic or aesthetic improvements including painting, rendering, floor coverings, even kitchen and bathroom upgrades can fall into this category. While they still have the potential to add extraordinary value, the value begins to depreciate the minute they are finished.

So when you are planning your renovation, keep in mind that some of the improvements will grow in value with the capital value of the home but the cosmetic improvements will do the opposite, they will reduce in value as they date and deteriorate and if you want to realize the full potential of your renovations, they need to be completed no more than 18 months before property is put on the market.


Create Views

Water views are the holy grail of house value with salt water being the most prized. If the home is not in a view worthy setting, a lush garden can be a good alternative. Plan to create views from every window of the home, with landscaping and screening and lighting. This does not mean spending large amounts of money on expensive landscape design but strategically planning, planting and maintaining your garden so that it looks good from inside and out.   In addition this will help to maintain privacy which is another huge value add.


Expand The Floor Plan.

Look at where you can expand the livability of the home. The first place to look is the kitchen, if you can open it up to a more open plan it’s an easy value add. If you are able to add an extra bedroom say taking a 2-bedroom home to a 3-bedder, it will add significant value because it will bump the value of the home up into the next price bracket. The amount it adds will depend on where you live; in

The bigger the home, the less the impact. If you were to take a home from 5 to 6 bedrooms there would be little or no impact. It is important to remember that any floor plan changes should be well considered, avoid creating a rabbit warren effect and don’t have bedrooms opening onto living rooms.


Engage an Architect.

Before you do anything, engage an architect to help you to develop the concept plan for your renovations. It doesn’t cost a lot and can save you from making expensive mistakes. Architects have a highly developed and unique mix of technical skills and creativity. They understand how space and light work and will not only help you realize your dreams for the property but will maintain the integrity of the design .

While we are on the subject, if you are a follower of the TV shows Grand Designs you may have some appreciation for the fact that “Over the top” architectural designs rarely add sufficient value to cover the costs. The reason for this is that they are pitched at highly individual tastes and values, which in the long run will narrow the market of buyers. Property values are driven by supply and demand, for maximum value you want your home to have broad appeal, but if you opt for a highly individualised home then you are getting into minority territory.


Keep the Style, Look & Feel Consistent.

It is important to ensure that it fits in with its surrounding by keeping the style consistent with the streetscape. For example if the home is in a street of predominantly Victorian terraces, putting an ultra modern renovation in the middle of them is not the smartest move. This does not mean that your home should be identical in style to the surrounding homes but it needs to be sympathetic.

So before you lift a finger, make a decision about the style you are going to adopt and then stick to it. The need for consistency also applies to colour. Establish your colour palette at the outset and take the scheme right through the house. This will give the home a look of quality. While staying neutral is important, it doesn’t need to be boring, the colours can be quite strong and you can play with the strengths for different effects.

Rather than spending a lot of time and energy with test pots trying to establish the right paint to reflect your colour choices, for $150 Dulux will send a colour consultant to your home to help you select the paint colours. Most of which is redeemable on the cost of the paint.

Improve the Street Appeal

This is a powerful way to add instant value, by virtue of the fact that it broadens your market. The first thing to look at is the front door. If the home is tired and dated, start by giving the front door a modern upgrade and paint it in rich oil based gloss paint. It can cost around $600 installed and will instantly transform.

On dated brick homes, cement render is another high impact value add. Have sloping windowsills knocked off and squared for a more modern look. The down side of cement rendering is that it requires painting. The acrylic alternatives don’t, and while they cost more, will look good for years to come. The front driveway is highly visual so needs to be spotless. Resurfacing concrete driveways is fast and effective but my advice would be to get plenty of quotes as they can vary significantly. Add a well-manicured front garden and lawn and some external lighting for after dark charm.

Play with Lighting

Lighting is a powerful way of taking years off the age of a house and adding value. Consider all three types of lighting. General or ambient lighting is usually achieved with down lights. Please don’t install halogen down lights. They are the blowflies of the lighting world because of their high-energy consumption and low globe life. If you can stretch your budget to LED down lights you will not only reduce your power use but will not have to change a globe for 15– 20 years (provided they are good quality fitting that doesn’t overheat). Task lighting is important in kitchens and bathrooms so that there is a higher lighting level where the work is done.

Accent lighting is what adds the wow. This can be achieved with pendant lights to add personality over an island in a kitchen, a statement piece over a dining table or hanging in a stair well. Another way of accent lighting is with LED strip lighting, which is a versatile way of lighting under mirrors, cabinets, kickers and stairs. Don’t forget the outside lighting, down lights in the eaves and up lights in the garden are an effective way to add drama and desirability to your home.

Size Matters

Big is definitely still better and while you may not be planning to increase the footprint of the home there are several tricks of the trade you can employ to give the home a sense of space. Here are a few:

To make rooms look more spacious:

  1. Light neutral wall colour
  2. Maximize natural light with your choice of window dressings and installing skylights.
  3. Create continuity by taking the same floor covering through the house (or level)
  4. Keep furniture to a minimum
  5. Ensure that you can see the corners of the room
  6. Large mirrors in your styling
  7. Frameless glass in balustrades and shower screens.

To Make Ceilings Look Higher

  • Square set the joint between the wall and the ceiling instead of a cornice.
  • Taller doors
  • Hang curtains from ceiling to floor
  • Elongated/ striped Patterns in curtains and wallpapers
  • Down lights rather than ceiling mounted.
  • Low line furniture

Stunning Kitchens

The kitchen is still the jewel in the renovation crown and can make or break the value of your home.

2013-05-18 22.25.54An important aspect of the kitchen is its outlook. Eat in kitchens are undesirable to most buyers, preferring the more contemporary open plan. So before you spend any money, see if you can achieve this by removing or reconfiguring a wall or two. Of course this may require council approval but in most cases it is well worth the time and money. When you make the decision to renovate the kitchen you’re committing to spending a significant sum of money and so it is important to get it right. A new kitchen is a once in 15 to 20 year purchase and often goes completely out of date before it wears out.

If the cabinetry is in good condition it might be worth considering a cosmetic makeover involving painting or replacing cupboard doors and handles. Benches can be transformed with stone veneers. The appliances, sink and tap-ware tend to really show their age and can be quite easily replaced, as can the light fittings.

If a new kitchen is in order, work on a timeless design. White is still the most popular and versatile colour. If you do want to spice it up, try some contrasting doors, wood grain is quite popular. Stainless steel appliances look more contemporary. Don’t be courageous with expensive permanent finishes, go for neutral colours in the splash backs, bench tops and cabinets. Add the wow and pops of colour in your styling. Light fittings are also a good opportunity to give the room some personality and as they are easy to change a decade down the track.

If you are replacing your kitchen, take a photograph before you remove so that you can list and sell or giveaway on eBay, gumtree or one of the many freebie sites. This will save landfill and save you in tipping fee.


Swimming Pools

The decision to install a swimming pool is a life style decision. Buyers either love them or hate them so please don’t be fooled into thinking that a swimming pool will add buckets of value to your house. If you recover your costs you will be doing well. This is not a reason not to put in a pool, there is no price for the hours of enjoyment a family can have with a pool.

So if you are going to install a pool, consider the following tips.

  • Make sure it is in the rear garden and visible from the main kitchen/living room and not hidden around a corner.
  • Position it in such a way that there is still some accessible garden area available; don’t swallow up the whole yard with it.
  • Put a glass fence between the pool and the house.
  • Landscape attractively without going overboard.
  • Metal pool fence should be either black or pearl grey for minimum visibility.

If you feel your indoor, outdoor experience would benefit aesthetically from water, consider a plunge pool or swim spa and there are some very cost effective options available.

Need assistance with financing a renovation or home construction project?

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