Best Ways To Boost Value
Keen to add value to your investment property? The Block NZ 2013 winners and reno experts, Alice and Caleb Pearson, share their top tips, by Alice & Caleb Pearson
1 June 2019
The changing property landscape means that many investors are looking for ways to boost the value of their properties. But when it comes to picking a value-adding project, there are many competing ideas and ways to spend your money.
While all will achieve varying returns on your investment, it’s critical to spend your money carefully. And to do so, you need to be cognisant of which projects to choose, the condition of your property and its location. Over the course of our own renovations, we have completed a wide range of projects. From those experiences we have compiled a list of our favourite value-adding home improvement projects.
There are many projects which can add value, but these options are all at the easier, more cost-effective end of the spectrum. Most can be done within a week - with no consents required and, if you are DIY inclined, it’s possible to complete them yourself.
It’s accepted wisdom that new paint works wonders. A fresh coat of paint can make a massive change to the look and feel of a house and, in many areas, it’s a requirement for the care and longevity of your asset. Interior painting is also one of the simplest renovation projects which makes this an achievable project for the hands-on property owner.
Repaint your interior: A repaint of interior walls and ceilings in a house with a faded or dated colour scheme can be transformational, completely changing the mood of a house. Dated colour schemes can be replaced with a fresh and modern feel, while in dark rooms it can feel like a window has been added. Plus fresh paint adds a new surface for protection and the wear and tear of time will be covered.
Exterior Painting: Exterior painting does require an extra level of effort and planning above painting inside. Typically, it requires additional preparation, access requirements and bigger costs due to the larger surface areas. However, a fresh exterior paint can revitalise and transform the façade of a property.
Colour scheming: If you are unsure where to start with selecting colours for your house, start with the colours that you already have that won’t be changing. These may be existing wooden detailing, floor tiles, carpet colours. Colour scheming isn’t necessarily about choosing colours you like, rather it’s about discovering colours that will enhance the look of your whole house. Select popular paint colours (whites and natural colour tones) and if you are unsure make the most of test pots before you commit to a colour.
Stand Out Features
Always look at the opportunities within your property to add design or feature elements. They don’t have to be big or expensive, but there’s value in making a property stand out - whether that’s for the sale of a property or to attract tenants.
These projects are often overlooked, or considered unnecessary, but they might be the point of difference for prospective tenants or buyers looking at your property. Kiwis are house proud people and having something “special” in their house will help them take pride in your property.
Our favourite simple design projects are:
Add a feature wall: A painted or wallpapered feature wall can create a big design statement in a room. With a feature wall you can add texture, pattern and/or colour to a room to give it more vibrancy and sophistication. Not only is it simple to achieve, it is simple to undo. Bedrooms are a great place to try a feature wall as it personalises the space and makes it memorable.
Replace light fixtures: Lights are a practical element but they can also become a design statement – so why not have both? Updating light fixtures with trendy products will instantly modernise a room. If you aren’t confident in selecting products, start with products from a store’s latest range and make a statement by going big.
Decide on a style and look: Many houses have had upgrades completed but lack continuity between each upgrade. For many of us with limited time and funds, projects are often done piecemeal and completed when a need arises rather than planned in advance. Regardless of how you stage your projects, always decide on an overall look for your house in its entirety. Factor in opportunities for design features within this so they have consistency with the overall colour scheme.
It’s worth noting that adding a design element to your property does not need to be costly. But always be mindful and realistic of who you are targeting for the rental or sale of your house.
If the prospect of design elements doesn’t excite you, then practical projects may. While practical projects don’t stand out in photos, they do benefit the liveability of a house and the satisfaction of the occupants. This, in turn, creates value for those who recognise these elements.
Some of our favourite practical projects include:
Create storage: Storage is commonly overlooked, or intentionally overlooked because there’s a misconception that it doesn’t add any value to a project. Look for opportunities to add or create storage both inside and outside on your property. One such opportunity is attic storage. If you have a pitched roof, an attic may be an untapped reservoir of storage space. Do this by adding attic stairs and particle board/plywood on top of your ceiling joists. Another option is under house storage. If your property is on piles there may be an opportunity to gain large areas of space below the house. Add a door to the baseboards to gain access, level dirt and add pallets on the ground to keep items dry. Construct a shed: A shed adds valuable floor area to a property for storage. For the same reasons as above, prospective buyers or tenants know they will have a place to store and lock their possessions which aren’t suitable for keeping inside.
Maximise parking options: Outside of a house, a vehicle is generally the next highest value item that someone owns. If there is insufficient parking for the size of the property and occupants need to park on the street, look at opportunities to add off street parking. If concreting or asphalt is too expensive, this can be done by boxing and adding base course, pebbles or paving blocks.
Heating & ventilation: An effective source of heating is a common consideration for purchasers and tenants. There are a range of heating options which vary in upfront and ongoing costs. Ventilation systems are growing in popularity and often requested. In areas prone to moisture they are well worth the investment for the health of the occupants as well as the health of the building
Upgrade hot water: If the hot water in the shower is barely coming out, an hot water cylinder replacement may be a wise investment. A straight replacement will be the simplest but consider gas as an alternative or using an outdoor HWC. These also help to free up space inside.
Kitchen And Bathroom Makeover
We all know the value of a new kitchen and bathroom – and also the costs. These two areas are huge selling points for a home. However, there are many cases where a complete upgrade is not necessary and smaller changes will achieve a better return on your investment.
So instead of a remodel, consider some of these smaller projects which can be done individually or in combination:
New handles: Replacing cabinetry handles or knobs is the simplest and cheapest way to make change. Aim to find something simple but modern. Using handles with the same sized fixings means no patching is required.
Cabinet recolouring: Often overlooked, a repaint of the panels in your kitchen can make them look like new. This can be done by painting yourself, having someone spray all the surfaces professionally or by covering with a vinyl wrap.
Splash backs: Putting in a splash back is a great way to modernise the kitchen or bathroom and provide some practical benefits for hygiene, cleaning and avoiding water damage. Common options include tiling, glass, pressed tin and stainless steel.
Sink replacement: A sink bowl and mixer can create a classy touch in a kitchen. Replacing these may be all that’s needed to add a fresh feel to your kitchen. Stainless steel is timeless but consider alternatives like quartz or ceramic for a more modern look and feel.
Appliance upgrades: Dated or damaged appliances can be replaced without impacting the rest of the kitchen. As a bonus the old ones can then be sold to help pay for their replacement. If there is an opportunity to include a dishwasher or rangehood to a property do consider the benefits.
Adding cabinetry: There is often the opportunity to add to a kitchen to make it more functional rather than having to replace something. Opportunities may include wall mounted cabinetry or shelving for storage, an open shelf or microwave cabinet to free up bench space. If space permits, add an island or butchers block or pantry unit.
New bench top & panels: If you have a good kitchen layout and the cabinets are in good condition, a halfway point to a kitchen replacement is to replace the benchtop and/or the coloured panels.
Many would argue that outdoor areas are where you can achieve the greatest dollar return for your investment. And there are indeed substantial opportunities in exterior spaces to add value. Adding doors to a living space to create indooroutdoor living and flow is always a good project. But here are some more straight forward projects to consider:
Outdoor living spaces: Look at the opportunity to add another living space in your outdoor area. Kiwis love being outdoors and a comfortable outdoor area can be treated as another “room” in the property. Think about the connection to inside rooms and other outside spaces, aspect, weather, privacy and materials. From boxed edging with pebbles, pavers, decking, concrete, there are a range of materials and options to consider which vary in cost and ease of install. What is important is to make sure the space is functional and usable.
Pergolas: A covered space creates an additional element to an exterior space. Increasing the liveability of your outdoor space making it usable year round.
Gates and fencing: Create and define spaces within your exterior by adding fencing or privacy screens. This can create privacy to both exterior and inside rooms, enclose areas for the safety of children and pets, and add a sense of security. There are a range of options at different price-points - from timber, block, and metal fencing to trellis for a more transparent fence to planting trees or screens for a softer feel.
Make an entry: Give your property some street appeal by doing a makeover on the frontage. We know first impressions count, so maximise the psychology of first impressions by completing some simple projects at your house’s entry. This can be done by repainting a fence, creating a clear pathway from the street to the front door, adding or maintaining existing planting. A front door makeover is a great way to make an entry. This can be done with a fresh coat of paint, a new door, or you can add a level of sophistication with a digital lock and video doorbell.
There are many ways to invest and add value to your property. This list is a great start if you are looking for simple ideas that don’t take much time and/or require loads of cash.
If you are planning to upgrade an investment, try to prioritise what will get the best return. We recommend taking time to brainstorm and discuss all ideas, putting them all on the table for consideration.
Always make sure you understand the time and money you have to invest, as well as what you are aiming to achieve. Not everything needs to be done together, but it’s important to make a plan for your property to get the best return from the projects you complete.