With an influx of renovation shows on the television, from Channel 9’s The Block to The Renovators, the new offering on Ten and a host of programs on Foxtel – once again Australians are focusing on improving what they have rather than moving.
The television decorator show smorgasboard is underpinned by our sluggish housing market, which suggests renovating rather than upgrading to a newer house is de rigeur.
Of course, there are good renovations and there are bad renovations, and then there is over-capitalisation (which is putting too much cash into ‘improvements’ on a property which won’t net you any return).
Sometimes the cheapest renovation can be a coat of paint, which can make a world of difference to a home’s appeal.
According to Alex May, author of Planning Your Perfect Home Renovation (Allen & Unwin, $26.95), there are five areas worth looking at which will help in adding value to the home.
1. Light up your life
According to Alex, increasing natural light creates a feeling of more space inside a home – and space adds value. A $500 skylight to a dim hallway or a bathroom can be a real value-add improvement.
“It’s worth paying attention to how much a skylight will add extra heat to a room, too – you don’t want to install one and then have to crank up the air-conditioner to deal with the heat gain,” Alex says. “It can be wise to pay a little extra for a well-insulated skylight if it’s going on a north or west-facing roof section.”
2. Adding space – or at least a sense of it
“Everyone wants more than they pay for, and flowing open plan spaces really impress people when they walk into a home. The lust for open plan living may go out of fashion one day – will people realise that separate rooms are quieter, easier and more pleasant in multi-people households? – but for now, adding space adds value,” she said.
Alex suggests removing non-structural walls which may open two rooms into one, or perhaps installing French doors or bi-folds to open it to the outdoors, potentially doubling the living area.
3. A well-tended garden ……
This doesn’t apply to apartments, but a well-tended garden can instantly add value to a home.
“Set up a garden that you can easily maintain and enjoy. Keep large trees in check – broken branches can damage a house and large natives need to be inspected for termites every so often to make sure they remain safe,” Alex says.
“Proper maintenance and repairs of all the little bits and pieces are just as important as the big things,” Alex says. “That means no dripping taps, no plumbing leaks, no rusted gutters, no flaking paint, no busted windows or stuck doors.”
5. Emotional value
Bathrooms and kitchens hold a lot of emotional value to a buyer, so they need to be in good shape. “In the bathroom, clean the grout, fix cracked tiles, update any doorknobs or tapware. Even buying a new toilet seat can make all the difference for a relatively low cost,” he says. “In the kitchen, reseal the gaps between the splashback and benchtop, clean everything thoroughly with a dose of sugar soap and a nail brush and work out any cheap fixes to improve the look – can you add new drawer handles or a new range over the stove to give the room a fresh new look without splashing out a lot of money?”