Top 10 Tips For Renovators
Upgrades to a rental property need to be durable and cost effective. Thanks to experience, Caleb Pearson has a list of recommendations.
31 July 2023
When you renovate and design your own home you can take risks and add your own personality to it. If you like it, it doesn’t matter all too much what other people think.
On the other hand, when making upgrades to a rental property you don’t know who the occupant might be, and you need to appeal to a wider group of people and at the same time ensure its durable and cost effective. It can be a tough line to navigate trying to get the best outcome for your investment property and your budget.
You may not be doing a complete makeover of an investment property, but for long-term investors you will need to be doing upgrades and replacements at some point during the lifetime of your investment. Here are our top 10 renovation recommendations for investment properties.
1. Go neutral with wall colours.
To appeal to a wide potential group of tenants, keep it light and neutral. Think whites, light greys or beiges. Light and white paint also happens to be a popular choice in homes currently, allowing a clean feel in a home and ability for tenants to dress the home with their own belongings.
2. Durable flooring.
Go with flooring options that are durable and low-maintenance. Flooring gets a lot of traffic, so select products that will last. Many NZ homes have wooden floors which are popular to restore and durable; others include laminate, vinyl, tiles. Carpet is a popular option for bedrooms and living spaces as it creates warmth and softness in a house. Avoid light colours which show up stains.
Flooring gets a lot of use so it’s important to pick a material that’s durable and will last.
There will undoubtedly be cost versus quality decisions to make to replace and upgrade various parts of the home. Opting for the cheapest is often not cheaper in the long run. Consider the lifetime cost of replacements, and invest in quality fixtures and appliances that are durable and energy-efficient.
4. Functional layout
If you are making changes to your property’s layout, focus on creating a functional layout that maximises space and flow. Consider open living spaces, access from a living space to the outdoors, and getting natural light inside.
Decks are easy to maintain and appealing to tenants.
5. Low-maintenance landscaping.
Keep the exterior landscaping low maintenance, simple and smart. Your tenants may not be gardeners, so select low-care planting, hedge screens for privacy, and incorporate hardscaping elements, such as decks, paved areas or pathways, for easy upkeep.
Your tenants may not be gardeners so keep outdoor spaces simple and smart.
6. Attention to detail.
Pay attention to small details that can make a big difference, such as fresh paint, updated hardware, and general maintenance. These small touches can leave a strong impression on potential tenants.
Good lighting will make a home much more liveable and pleasant to be in. Make sure rooms, especially kitchen and living spaces, have adequate lighting. LED downlights are a safe and simple option, and have lower energy cost. Where natural light is available, capitalise on bringing this inside.
8. Work with what you have.
Before completely starting from scratch with a project, consider if there is anything you can restore or salvage. Especially for big cost areas like kitchens and bathrooms where multiple tradespeople are required. In a kitchen you may be able to replace cupboard doors or the benchtop and breathe new life into a space without ripping it all out.
9. Storage space.
Having adequate storage is essential for tenants. Prioritise the key spaces – wardrobes in each bedroom, a good-sized vanity or shelving in the primary bathroom, storage cupboard/shelving for the house, a shed outside. Consider accessing underutilised spaces, such as under stairs, a door to access under a house, overhead cupboard in the kitchen, or an attic ladder to open up untapped space in a ceiling.
ABOVE Having good amounts of storage is a big drawcard for tenants.
10. Make it extra healthy.
There are compulsory minimum standards for rental properties in the Healthy Homes standards. Don’t just tick the box, but make sure it works and also consider if this is enough for your property. Many rangehoods and bathroom extractors do not do the full job. Make sure they operate properly. If you’re upgrading insulation, an increase in R values above the minimum is often only an incremental cost. And while a cost, a ventilation system can make a big difference to drying a home.
While each investor will have different budgets and goals, these are 10 guidelines to achieve an attractive property while not going overboard with costs. It’s a good idea to start with the end goal in mind: for the local rental market, target demographic that your property would appeal to, the potential rental range and value of your property. Identify which areas are priorities for your property and start with these first.