Maximise long-term gain with a home reno that appeals to the widest market
'For long-term gain you need to cater for the mass market,' says TV host Andrew Winter
Finding the balance between updating a home to suit your needs and adding value is a challenge for many homeowners.
Using neutral colours and standard designs for the reno is common but you don’t always have to play it safe to appeal to buyers down the track, says Andrew Winter, host of the LifeStyle Channel’s Selling Houses Australia.
‘Renovate your home the way you want to enjoy it but remember that for long-term gain you need to cater for the mass market, so don’t make it too hard or costly to alter,’ says Andrew.
1. Making lifestyle choices
Renovating for long-term gain is about lifestyle as much as financial benefits.
Says Andrew, ‘With high energy costs, homeowners don’t want to spend a fortune on air-conditioning so they might move a few doorways and add windows for cross-ventilation.
‘The outlay is small and while it may not be an obvious value-adder it makes for a more comfortable home.’
He says a long-term renovation on any property, regardless of vintage or location, needs three elements.
‘It should include things you’re going to enjoy and benefit from. If designing for personal style then make sure it can eventually be changed to have mass market appeal when it comes to selling.’
2. Do a professional job
The key is doing things properly or not at all, says Andrew.
A job well done lasts longer and won’t have to be refreshed or ripped out and redone, especially when it comes to resurfacing walls and floors.
‘If it’s something you want to do yourself like painting or tiling then make sure you do it right.
‘Prepare the surface by repairing and cleaning it, remove switch plates, and make sure you use the right tools.
‘You want a proper finish every time so if you’re not able to do that then get a professional in.’
3. Don't get structural
Getting the balance right between personal style and a home that appeals to others is about practicality and making the design adaptable rather than generic.
Says Andrew, ‘Instead of installing a feature that isn’t mass market and costs too much to change, like a kidney-shaped pool, employ design tricks to get the same effect using plants and rocks around the edge to create curves and softened lines.’
4. Balance quality with quantity
Making the reno budget work is vital for future rewards and a home that will outlast your occupancy.
‘Compromise between cost effectiveness and quality, finding affordable fixtures without going cheap and cheerful,’ says Andrew.
‘In the inner-city where people are designer conscious, a flat-pack kitchen may not work for value adding but stylish fittings have longevity.’
When the budget doesn’t fit the dream, it’s a balancing act.
‘If you spend big on kitchen appliances save in the bathroom by resurfacing instead of remodelling.’
5. Get the building approval
Plan the renovation properly so it doesn’t have to be reversed.
‘Make sure all approvals are in place so if anything happens you have the documentation,’ says Andrew.
‘Phone your council and check the website, see what you can and can’t do because guidelines are there for a reason, not to catch you out.
‘Beams have to be strong enough to hold up walls, ceilings need to be a certain height to prevent accidents.’
Even if you’re good at DIY, sometimes you can’t do a job because it’s illegal, especially for electrical, plumbing and gas-related work.
6. Have a flexible floorplan
Many renovators think creating more bedrooms or living space is a definite value-adder but Andrew says not.
‘If you adjust the accommodation, maybe by turning an attached garage into another bedroom or closing off a verandah as an extra living room, you may not get the reward you expect.
‘You might think four bedrooms are worth more than three and a garage or that more living space beats a verandah but prospective buyers may disagree.’
A good compromise is to increase the flexibility of a floor plan, such as installing bi-fold doors, instead of making irreversible changes.
7. Cater for seasonal living
An outdoor area with easy access is usually high on the reno wish-list and the preference is for it to flow from the living zone, so a lot of original older houses need updating.
Creating a wintry retreat is also recommended despite our hot climate and outdoor lifestyle.
Modern homes often need a cosy area that can be closed off because most of Australia has distinct seasons with a few months of colder weather.
This double act also extends to the bathroom when renovating.
‘Most people shower but removing the bath restricts your buyer’s market as a tub appeals to young families and older people with aches.’