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The magic of fixtures and fittings

Door knobs and light switches may not sound like blockbusters of property renovation, but collectively they can redefine perception, investment coach Ilse Wolfe says.

By: Ilse Wolfe

1 September 2022

The finer details of your renovation plan can feel a bit “fiddly”, admits coach Ilse Wolfe. “But updating all the fixtures and fittings can haul a property out of its era and up to new build status.”

This is why updating fixtures and fittings is step #4 of the Cashflow Hacking List – a six-step approach to turbocharge any BRRRR project.

As a rule, Wolfe defines fixtures as the visual exterior of what links to electrical or plumbing work behind the wall, like light switches and power sockets.

By contrast, fittings are everything else.

LED Lights

Integrated LED ceiling lights offer the best solution for making an old house feel new, Wolfe says.

“You will need two to four down lights for a large living room and bedroom,” she says. “But there is a catch – they are a more expensive option.”

Wolfe says these lights (more than likely) require an electrician, as each light requires a pre-cut hole.

“Depending on the size of your property, this can take an electrician two days to complete. At $100 an hour it can get expensive quickly,” she says.

But Wolfe has an alternative, which is to use a ceiling-mounted oyster light.

“This is physically mounted on the top of the ceiling. No cutting and more DIY- friendly,” she explains.

Wolfe says these 2 options are on par for the fitting cost (about $20 to $50 per light), but there can be substantial savings made in labour.

In the end what choice you go for may come down to the property.

“For a low-end rental, ceiling-mounted lights will make just as much impact as the more expensive option.”Safety Risk

Safety Risk

Yellowing light switches can also be an indication of a potential safety risk.

“If your light switch (or power socket) is old enough to have lost its original colour, it is potentially hiding an outdated metal flush box behind the wall,” she says.

“Metal flush boxes get too hot. This is why modern ones are plastic.”

So, when you update light switchs be prepared to update flush boxes too, which will add a labour cost.

Door Handles

It may sound hard to believe, but if you install all the door handles in your property you will shave thousands from your budget.

“Door knobs are a super cheap accessory when you’re bargain bin hunting (or browsing AliExpress), but they can set you back quite considerably in labour,” she says.

Her rule to “always keep the future tenant in mind” is true even of door knobs.

“If the house is going to be rented by a family try to avoid d-ring handles on the doors. They can be all too tempting for a young child to swing on and break.”

Cabinet Screws Trick

Existing kitchen cabinets will either have one or two screws for their handles. In any switch out, Wolfe says it’s best to exchange like-for-like.

“Investors risk having a visible hole left over, or an unnatural placement of a handle, in any attempt to incorporate a one-hole into a new two-holed handle … or vice versa.

“Kitchen cabinets are plastic-coated boards (for splatter and durability), so you will need to strip that back and reapply to mask any obvious holes left.

“In any case, pay close attention to your cabinets before you go buying new handles.”

Collectively, these fixtures and fittings work as the thread that ties all your hard-earned renovations together.

“This is why it is really important to create a well-thought out design throughout,” Wolfe says.

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