Renovation Rules: Top 7 Tips and Trends For 2016

THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN HAS been given a whole new level of confidence when it comes to renovating. Shows such as The Block, Renovation Rumble, House Rules and Selling Houses Australia have changed the way we look at the idea of renewing our homes and simplified the process so that anyone can do it. Sydney buyer’s agent Amanda Gould shares her top tips for gaining maximum ROI.

For 28 years I’ve bought and sold property in Sydney for my own portfolio. This passion for property led me to start my buyer’s agent business. We ensure our clients are armed with the knowledge and tools to make good decisions when they invest in Sydney property.

As most of us know, Australians are mad for property; I recently learned that one in three property buyers are buying to renovate. Buying an old, run-down unit or house and adding value with a renovation before putting it back on the market has been the quickest way to build wealth that I know. It’s something I encourage my clients, who want to build their own path to financial freedom, to consider.

If your clients are looking to make some ‘improvements’ there are many renovation trends that have come and gone; but in my experience these seven tips are timeless.

    It is important to appeal to the widest range without being bland. First you must know your market; if you are renovating in an inner city location where most of the buyers are single or double income with no kids, a sleeker, more urban vibe appeals – that is, polished concrete, wide floorboards, darker tones, feature taps. If you are in the suburbs where families are your market, light, bright tones, wide oak floors, marble or Caesarstone benchtops and open-plan living with an entertaining area has more appeal. Always do your research and see which renovated properties sell fast; speak to your local agent and ask what features the buyers have raved about. While I am an advocate for dark colours, which I believe feel more luxe and create impact, I don’t believe they work in all rooms and properties. Naturally it depends on the amount of light in the room. Why not think of using dark walls as a feature such as a fireplace, and then keep the rest of the colours neutral? A popular colour for internal and external walls is light grey; more modern colour.
    One of my favourite things to do is use scale where possible. This can be used in a number of ways: pendant lights, kitchen islands, ceiling height, shower roses and tiles. I am a fan of using oversized tiles in bathrooms. The big trend at the moment is matte tiles and different shaped tiles, like hexagons. I always use 600 x 600 and 300 x 600 so if there are any left I can use them on the next project.If you use a basic tile on three walls and a feature tile on the fourth wall, it adds impact. Alternatively, keep the walls simple and add an interesting feature floor tile. I’m keen on tiles that have texture to create an instant emotional bond between the property and the potential purchasers. You want it to evoke an emotion and touch or feel is one of the best ways. An on-trend way to add the wow factor in a bathroom is with matte black or brushed metal taps, fixtures and shower roses. These days we are spoilt for choice: copper, brass, gold and rose gold. Once again size matters! Another trend right now is oak flooring. There are various colours and widths on offer; I always go for the widest possible, 190–240cm, in a lighter colour for smaller units and darker colour for larger spaces.
    This is something you want to get right; it’s worth speaking to a lighting expert such as Beacon Lighting to help you map out a great lighting plan. I am a huge fan of pendants to create a feature, but always remember you have to have the ceiling height for a larger pendant. The main areas where I use pendants are over the dining area, lounge, stairwell and kitchen.
    Whether you are renovating a unit or house, try and make sure the entrance is memorable. This can be achieved with colour, mirrors, art, wallpaper or a great light fixture.
    The cheapest way to add immediate value to a property is by reconfiguring the layout. Is there an under-utilised dining area that could be changed into a third bedroom? Could a large one-bedroom apartment be converted into a two-bedroom apartment?
    The important part of renovating is not to over-capitalise. If you are renovating a one-bedroom apartment, you wouldn’t put a $20,000 kitchen in. Why not think about using a Bunnings or Ikea kitchen and upgrade the taps, appliances and stone bench-tops to make it feel more luxe? If you are renovating a house, the rule of thumb is five to 10 per cent of the total value of the property. For a unit it is less, depending on the location and value of the property.
    A great tip I learned years ago at a renovating-for-profit workshop was to put a card in every room with all the features of the room printed out, laminated and stuck under every light switch. Buyers come through and see the card, which could read ‘This room features under-floor heating, Matte Black Caroma tapware and Italian marble tiles.’ I used these information cards in a number of past renovations and had great feedback from buyers.

Hope these tips help. Happy renovating!

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amanda gould

Amanda Gould is the founder and director of HighSpec Properties. Harnessing her contacts and professional relationships with Sydney’s Real Estate Agents, Amanda is known for sourcing ‘first in-best dressed’ off-market deals for her clients.