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Sound advice for renovating residential property

When renovating a residence, home owners often enquire: how do you know if you are spending too much on renovating your home, taking into account that over-capitalising means you may not recoup this additional capital outlay when re-selling the property?

This is particularly relevant if you intend selling your home in the next few years, and is also impacted by the existing economic trading conditions and status of the property market.

Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties area principal in Durban North and La Lucia, says the first step is to verify the ceiling price for the area in which the property is located. “If the area has a relatively low ceiling, then clients are advised to spend very little on upgrading their homes. If they pursue extensive renovations in an area that does not carry sufficient value, they run the risk of over-capitalising.

“The best and one of the most cost effective ways of enhancing a home is with a coat of paint. Generally, light, bright, sunny homes will attract a higher price than darker homes, so we recommend a paint touch-up to lighten the ambience. It is also important to transform a home into a product that appeals to the widest possible catchment of buyers, and to this end, a neutral palette is advised.

“Apart from a coat of paint, important rooms to upgrade are kitchens and bathrooms. This is usually, however, a costly exercise, so it may be preferable to look at creative ways of upgrading without going to a great deal of expense. For example, outdated bathrooms with green tiles will be transformed by simply painting the tiles white. In addition, key items such as taps and toilet seats should be replaced. Removing old basins and replacing them with new, modern basins on pedestals is also a good way to change the feel of the bathroom without having to spend excessive amounts of money.”

Reynolds says an inexpensive, but effective way to improve a kitchen is to paint technique old cupboards or replace doors, leaving the actual framework in place. Changing door handles and light fittings can also make a significant change to the look and feel of a kitchen. If budget allows, a CaesarStone or granite counter top speaks volumes and is one of the first things buyers will notice in a kitchen. She suggests rather having a Supawood kitchen with a CaesarStone top than spending money on a solid wood kitchen.

“We generally find that sellers who have gone to great expense to install quality sold wood kitchens and quality solid wood floors do not necessarily reap the benefits of these costs when it comes to selling. People are more impressed by a clean, light, bright home with good flow and open spaces than they are with very expensive finishes. You can spend on good finishes without overspending on exceptional or extravagant finishes as these do not add sufficient value to the property. Other inexpensive ways to enhance your home include: improving curb appeal by adding pot plants and keeping the verge clean and the lawn mowed; keep the entrance – which creates the first impression of the home – attractive with plants and/or decor items. Keep the home uncluttered because if it feels claustrophobic buyers will walk away, and bear in mind that small touches can carry a great deal of weight; for example, replacing light fittings and keeping the curtains and blinds open,” she says.

Reynolds adds that if you decide to undertake renovations to your home, there are several factors which need to be taken into account.  “You may need to relocate temporarily, you will need to have plans passed by the council, you may need to obtain finance and will need to budget appropriately, and then you will need to source a reliable and reputable building contractor. Depending on the extent of the renovations and if they make financial sense, it may be prudent to enlist the services of a quantity surveyor to act as a pricing go-between with the building contractor regarding budgeting. Otherwise, prioritise your renovations to suit your budget.

“When choosing a building contractor it is advisable to obtain references, ideally from people you know and trust, and then send the job to tender to between three and five contractors. Check that the builder is registered with the NHBRC (National Home Builder Registration Council) and Master Builders, and ensure that everything is in writing and signed by both parties before commencing the project. It is also advisable to inform your insurance broker that the property is being renovated and also to take out public liability insurance in the event of injury to any party during the build. The builder will also be insured and should supply you with proof of this, so that any liability rests on his shoulders, not yours,” adds Reynolds.


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