Where to concentrate your renovations (PART 2) - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views
Real Estate


With lending for renovations reaching a record high of over $600 million in Australia, representing almost three times the level we saw prior to the pandemic, it’s clear many of us have shifted our focus to improving our homes.

In my last column, I outlined some of the key things to consider before undertaking a home renovation including the risk of overcapitalising, timing, budget, and keeping your potential future buyer in mind. Now in this follow-up column, I’ll tackle the all-important question of where to concentrate your renovations.

Depending on who you ask, and what your motivations for the renovation are, there are umpteen ways to answer this. However, if you’re renovating for net gain, not all renovations are equal and differ significantly in their contribution to the overall increased value of your home.


Start by thinking about where the ‘quick wins’ could be – in other words, where can you make home improvements with minimal effort (and expense) for maximum effect. This means focusing on cosmetic renovations in highly visible and regularly utilised areas (rather than the laundry).

For example, internal renovations which add appeal with minimal cost include small scale cosmetic improvements such as a fresh coat of paint, new carpets or floor coverings, updating fixtures (such as lighting or window treatment), and updating cabinetry and handles. This surface retouching can remove signs of ageing and wear and tear that are part and parcel of living in a home, and make your property feel like new.

Curb appeal can account for up to 10% of your property’s value, so giving your property’s street façade a facelift can help attract potential buyers and achieve a better return on your investment. This could include new exterior paint, and the opportunity to modernise your property with a colour refresh. Other easy exterior renovations to consider include modernising lighting, improving front fencing, and landscaping and gardening in the front yard. As with everything exterior, first impressions count and are often lasting impressions.


However, just doing minor alterations will often not net a return big enough to cover the capital injection and selling costs. So, if you’re wanting to make some bigger scale improvements, start by considering what might be the biggest bug bear or obstacle for prospective buyers to make an offer on your property – or in other words, where is the most room for improvement?

Generally, it’s agreed that money is well spent on overhauling worn and outdated kitchens or bathrooms. The old adage that ‘the kitchen is the heart of the home’ still rings true. But be careful, otherwise you’ll watch your total budget be swallowed whole. Put simply, kitchens are expensive. Splashbacks, soft-close drawers, breakfast bars, butler’s pantries, integrated appliances – It’s incredibly easy to go overboard, and that’s why it’s key to remain laser focused on your objective and budget. Also don’t bite off more than you can chew, since cutting too many corners simply isn’t worth it, so it’s probably best to choose to either tackle the kitchen or the bathroom, rather than both.


When renovating for sale your mantra should be less is more and neutral is best. You might love bright feature walls, beachy-themes, black accents, or Portuguese tiles, but not everyone will share your tastes. If it’s your forever home, then obviously go ahead and do the renovations to align with your personal taste. However, if it’s an investment property or a shorter-term home, you really want to be careful about any style decisions that could be polarising. To be safe, take emotion out of it and stay objective by choosing practical, neutral styles so you’re appealing to a broader audience when it comes time to sell.


Lastly, consider the upkeep and longevity of your renovations, which will potentially weigh on buyer’s minds. If you’ve put in a pool or elaborate garden, for example, this may appeal to families but be seen as a maintenance chore for an elderly couple. If you’ve renovated the kitchen or bathroom with penny round tiles, marble, or copper, while trendy now, this could be viewed as a cleaning nightmare for the prospective buyer.

Remember a few refreshing cosmetic upgrades could make a big difference to the price you may ultimately achieve for your property. It’s always a good idea to seek advice from industry professionals, such as an REIQ-Accredited Agent, on where your money is best spent on a renovation, before you pick up the hammer or power tool.