Planning to sell your home? The best way to maximise profits is by creating a well-maintained property that new owners can move into without doing major work, says professional renovator Cherie Barber.
As owner of successful Renovating for Profit, Cherie says that with planning, the jobs don’t cost much or take long to do by the average DIYer.
‘All the jobs are easily project managed and if you can’t do the work yourself then get a professional in to do them. With renovating you have options for how much or how little you want to get involved according to your budget and skills.’
If using a professional then always aim to get three to five quotes, with more quotes for the bigger jobs.
Estimating the reno costs
A kitchen refurb should end up costing about 2 of the current property value and a bathroom 1.5.
Says Cherie, ‘If your property’s worth $500,000 then the kitchen reno should cost $10,000 for everything,
all materials, fixtures and fittings.’
1. Refinish the floors
Ripping out carpet or old floor tiles is a large-scale improvement for maximum impact but not necessarily a cheap one.
‘Pull up the grungy carpet and put down a hard surface like laminate floorboards, or real timber if the budget allows, to radically change the property,’ says Cherie.
For maximum impact she prefers laminated spotted gum floorboards in high gloss.
‘They cost just $36 a square metre and can make your property look like a designer home.’
Before: Wall-to-wall carpet, a breakfast bar and dark kitchen dated the living area
After: Easy-install laminate boards create a modern surface underfoot
2. Spruce up with paint
‘For every dollar you invest in painting you’ll typically get a $5 to $10 return,’ says Cherie.
‘It’s one of the most powerful ways to transform a property. Applying just one coat of fresh paint to ceilings brightens the space. For walls choose a modern, classic scheme.’
The no-go colour is yellow as it can date fast, says Cherie. Her preferred palette includes light clay, mocha, cream, natural stone and earth tones.
She also suggests playing with tints, going for half or quarter strength, and painting all trim like architraves, skirting boards and picture rails in a lighter contrast colour.
Before: Pale yellow walls and contrasting natural timber were out of date
After: Cherie chose a light but not white colour scheme for depth and contrast
3. Update interior doors
When it comes to internal doors there’s no need to replace them.
Says Cherie, ‘There are lots of drab timber doors that simply need to be cosmetically refreshed with paint and a new handle. You don’t have to buy costly door handles as there are some really great fake clones.’
Cherie’s preferred door handle is a satin chrome finish in a straight, square design. ‘I don’t use polished chrome as it picks up fingerprints, a constant maintenance headache.
‘Don’t go for fancy handles because they date a property.
‘Go for either curved or straight lines but not both. Straight is better because it’s more modern so the
look tends to lasts longer.’
Replace door handles for an instant refresh
4. Turn up the lights
‘One of the first things I do is rip out the single pendant lights and install halogen or LED recessed downlighting. The objective is to lighten and brighten,’ says Cherie.
Find a compromise between halogens and the more expensive, dimmer yet eco-friendlier LED lights.
‘At $50 to $100 per downlight and another $40 for installation, LEDs are about three times the cost of halogens.
‘Use halogens in communal areas and LEDs for ambient lighting in quiet zones like bedrooms.’
5. Dress the windows
Installing window treatments is an essential home makeover job and important to get right.
Cherie suggests that dark curtains block light and aren’t the best option for people suffering allergies.
‘They tend to detract from a light, bright and airy home. Blinds generally cost less and give a more modern look. The trend at the moment is for slimline venetians because they cost so little and you can simply buy them to install easily.
‘Match your fixtures and furnishings to your home, making them relative to the property’s worth.
‘If it’s a high-value home then choose white plantation shutters. If you have a low-value property then go for a slim venetian.
‘We wouldn’t put plantation shutters in a $200,000 property in the country but we would put them in a $2 million inner city home.’
Go for blinds instead of curtains, choosing a product relative to the value of the home
6. Resurface the kitchen
‘Buyers identify the bathroom and kitchen as the two big cost centres. After they buy, replacing the kitchen can cost them up to $20,000 plus another $15,000 in the bathroom.
‘So they could potentially discount your property by up to $35,000 if those areas aren’t renovated. But of course you can do them for less.’
Consider salvaging rather than ripping out old cabinets.
‘I’ve just finished a kitchen that was structurally sound but the colour scheme was pink with brown trim.
‘I refreshed it with laminate paint, replaced door handles and painted the benchtop for less than $1000.’
Before: This kitchen had good bones but a worn floor and unappealing colour scheme
After: Installing extra cabinets and going white combines with feature lighting and new flooring to create a designer space
7. Refresh the bathroom
‘If a bathroom has good bones but everything’s dated with the wrong colours then refresh with tile paint and resurfacing,’ says Cherie.
‘You can get a new look in just a day for a fraction of the cost by keeping the existing fixtures.
‘It saves time and money but there’s also less renovation upheaval if the room isn’t being gutted.’
Best for cleaning is a light and bright bathroom with white or mocha glossy wall tiles.
For less slippage and to hide any dirt and hair, matt charcoal or chocolate floor tiles are ideal.
Tiling over the top of an existing tile floor saves pulling up all the tiles and reinstalling the full waterproofing membrane layer. Apply Gripset Betta Super Primer straight on top of the existing tiles and top with tile adhesive before laying the new tiles.
Before: Old fixtures and exposed plumbing didn’t make the most of this space
8. Revamp the entrance
Instant kerb appeal means potential buyers stop and look at the property instead of driving past.
‘The top jobs are cleaning up with a high-pressure washer, painting and fixing the fence,’ Cherie says.
If the fence needs replacing build to the maximum height allowed.
‘Beef up the front to make it look more substantial for maximum value. Add finials to decorative fretwork and attach trim around the windows.’
Choose exterior colour that is modern, avoiding the iconic Aussie green and gold, as it dates a home.
‘These rules usually apply for Federation or other period homes. Light chocolate and mocha are great wall colours teamed with a black or dark blue trim,’ says Cherie.
A solid fence, clean walls and newly painted front door make a good first impression with buyers
9. Update the driveway
To give paths and driveways a facelift, use paving paint.
‘Poor driveways and pathways can pull down the value of the rest of the property. It’s like baking a cake then forgetting to ice it,’ says Cherie.
‘It’s a low-cost option to make those areas look better. It doesn’t matter if there are slight cracks in the driveway as dark paint covers it.
‘Just remember to clean those areas thoroughly with a high-pressure washer the day before.’
Give driveways, paths and the garage floor a new lease of life with an application of paving paint
10. Green up the lawn
Cherie says many homeowners concrete the front yard for easier maintenance but turf is a highly valued commodity.
‘People love having a lawn at the front and back, it’s added bling.’
To repair a damaged lawn or create one fast in a bare spot lay turf. Buy rolls from garden centres and landscaping suppliers, from about $8 a square metre plus delivery.
Cherie also suggests adding exterior lighting, well-marked street numbers and a new letterbox.