Your Guide To Building, Selling and Renovating

Your Home Renovation Guide from Start to Finish

Your Comprehensive Guide to Renovating for Profit or Keeps

First Step: renovate to keep or sell?

So, you’re thinking about renovating?  Good for you!  The first step in your renovation journey is to decide whether you’re renovating to keep, or renovating to sell.

There’s something very satisfying about enjoying the fruits of your renovation labour, yet there’s an equally satisfying feeling with selling your renovated property and turning a profit or gain equity.

The key is to make an informed decision.


How much is your property worth?

First, establish the current value of your home.  You can do this by speaking with local real estate agents, researching property sales for similar homes in your suburb, paying for a property valuation or signing up to sites like AMP’s Price Finder.

Once you’ve got an idea of the value of your pre-renovated property, it’s time to find out what your property is worth after your renovations are complete.  Speak with your local real estate agent again or check any local property sales (that are similar to what your property will be like after renovation) to understand how much you may be able to sell your newly improved property for.


How much are you willing to spend?

Now that you know approximately how much your property is worth both before and after renovation, it’s time to work out your price threshold for renovation expenses.  How much money are you willing to invest in improving your property, versus the potential profit, equity or enjoyment that you will receive?  According to a recent Westpac Renovation Report, the average Australian spends $47,948 on renovations for per investment property.  If you’re renovating to keep and enjoy, you can spend as much as you’re comfortable with.

To start calculating the cost of potential home improvement works, speak with tradies about labour and material costs.  Also speak with your family and friends – you may also be surprised with the skill set or wider connection base of your immediate network.

Here is a simple formula to estimate the potential profit or equity gain after renovation: the value of your finished property minus the current value of your property (don’t forget to take into account insurance costs, as well as holding and selling costs).


Crunch the numbers

When you have done the maths, establish a renovation budget and stick with it!  Make sure that your calculations are as correct as possible.  Consult a financial planner or renovations expert to understand how renovation costs fit in with your property portfolio, goals and / or financial position.  A good starting point is with downloading Archicentre’s Renovation Cost Guide.

Remember that renovating is rewarding work, but takes commitment, time and effort.  Your level of renovation enjoyment lies heavily in your ability to manage a range of discomforts, including risk, good old hard yakka, flexibility, delay, phone calls, site visits and more.

Don’t let the potential discomforts scare you away from renovating.  We’ll help you get organised. Read on!

Prioritise your assets

When it comes to allocating your renovation budget, keep in mind that not all rooms are created equal.  Take stock of your property as it stands, and figure out which rooms need renovating the most, and how much labour and materials are required to achieve your desired improvements.

If you’re renovating to sell, spend your money where it shows.  Cost-effective renovation is key!  Recent research by Domain shows that 50% of Australian renters looked for internal laundries, built-in wardrobes and adequate storage areas.  Consider your property, and think about where your investment will show and tell your ideal tenant or purchaser that this property is a must!

Bathroom 101

The condition of a bathroom can make or break a deal.  Why?  An older or poorly presented bathroom implies that the plumbing isn’t in good nick, and may be a bit of a money-pit.  On the other hand, a new bathroom can signal that the property, overall, is in tip-top condition.

If budget allows, add any bathroom gadgets that make the thought of using your bathroom a desirable experience.  For example, install heated floors, towel-warmers or heat-lamps for cooler climates, built-in shower seats for a welcome touch of luxury, or a bathroom audio system to breathe life into stirring renditions of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”.

If your property renovations make for a family-friendly size, consider getting a bath put into the bathroom.  For families with young children (or pets!), a missing tub may be a purchase deal-breaker.

Relieve any bathroom-caused anxieties by making sure that it looks good, smells good, and is a joy to step into.

Room by room: how to prioritise

Next, go from room to room and write down the things that you, the things that you dislike, and what changes you want (and can afford) to make.  Once your list of affordable changes is complete, number the rooms in order of priority.  If the changes are minor, strike them out.  Strike-out is easier when you start from the bottom of your list.  You will thank yourself if your estimated costs don’t stretch too close to your renovation budget.

Keep changes that matter the most

How do you figure out what to keep on your priority list?  Take an approach with structure in mind.  Prioritise any cracking, causes of mould, rotting, splitting or damp areas.  If you have any of these, we highly recommend consulting a licensed and insured builder to help you assess the changes the required.  Don’t be afraid to ask for your builders’ credentials, or if they have photos or an online portfolio of previous work.

Mistakes to avoid when renovating

This is where the renovation budget and room prioritisation list that you prepared earlier will come in handy.  Now you have to carefully plan your renovation in order to keep hiccups like miscommunications, delay and overlap to a minimum.

Answer these critical questions

Do you need council approval?  To submit applications?  Get a permit?  Does your insurance policy cover your proposed renovation?  Do you need the expertise of an architect or engineer?  How much work can you do yourself?  How much work will you give to a builder?  Do you need to create certain energy efficiencies?  Do you need temporary accommodation?  Think practically, and keep your health, safety and sanity in mind.

For big changes, get an architect

Hiring an architect may seem like an unnecessary, indulgent cost.  However, having an experienced expert with an eye for visualising your dream as reality, and may save you from costly mistakes and avoidable oversights, making your renovation a more enjoyable experience.

Get it in writing

Protect yourself by putting agreements in writing, and have them signed and dated by all relevant parties.  When looking for contractors, obey the rule of three: get three quotes for every project, and be respectful when negotiating on price.  You’re the boss, so speak out early so that corrections can be made!


Council requirements

Do get in touch with your local planning council to understand your obligations and get a head-start on navigating any red tape.  Contacting your council should be one of the first phone calls you make – there’s no point hiring contractors and buying materials when you don’t have the required permits or planning permissions!

Inside out

Work from the inside out, and create functional spaces for living.  Think about how colours and accessories make living in your property an enjoyable experience.  Work on any landscaping requirements after you’ve renovated the inside.

If kitchen renovation is on the priority list, make sure that you give this culinary masterpiece space the Michelin Star it needs.  Install soft-closing draws and cupboards, use quality hardware pieces, and allow enough room for (organised) storage.  Remember, you get what you pay for, so avoid making the mistake of buying cheap materials.


Where to find your inspiration

Sometimes it’s hard to visualise and remember your big ideas, let alone communicate to another person how and where you want everything to go.  Luckily, there are tools like Ikea’s Kitchen Planner and Armstrong Flooring’s Interactive Room Designer programs to bring your big ideas to life onscreen.  These interactive programs let you choose wall and floor finishes, colours, furniture and much more, giving you a more tangible glimpse into how your ideas can come to life, and making it easy for you do make last-minute changes to your colour scheme and show your ideas to your architect and / or contractors.

For renovators undertaking much of the hard yakka themselves, programs like Sweet Home 3D offer free interior design capabilities where you can upload your floor plan, scale it, and get to work designing your property!  Another free program is HomeByMe, a room-planning tool where you can start in 2D and build from the ground up, finishing your rooms with furniture and accessories.  If you’ve played SimCity, you’ll know exactly how fun this is!

For renovation ideas, make use of social media tools like Pinterest and Instagram.  Pinterest has boards and boards of organised renovation ideas for rooms, colours, soft furnishings, cabinets, tiles and more!

DIY help is at hand!

Are you finding yourself lurking dangerously close to spending your entire renovation budget?

Don’t fear!  DIY work is here!  It’s time to roll-up your sleeves, and tap into some free DIY advice and training that can save you money, reduce overall cost of your home improvement works, or place changes that are a little beyond budget within reach.  We have collected our favourite learning and training classes, right here.

Bunnings: free DIY workshops

Bunnings’ workshops teach less specialist skills that don’t require you or your partner to have a trades licence.  These workshops are taught by Bunnings team members who are qualified tradespeople and regarded as experts in their field.  Bunnings’ workshops can teach you how to paint, plaster, create storage solutions and more.

If you’re looking for a little confidence boost, want to know how to get started, or simply learn what you’re comfortable with doing, a Bunnings workshop may be just the session you’re looking for!  Visit Bunnings for DIY Workshop locations and for more information about in-store events, Kids’ Workshops and DIY Workshops for Ladies.


The internet

Don’t have time to attend a live class?  YouTube is your new favourite channel.

YouTube videos are great for visual learners, and offer step-by-step guidance for small tasks like how to hammer a nail, to larger tasks like how to set up a kitchen storage compartments.  For carpentry videos, see channels like HouseImprovements.  For home repair videos, see Hardware Helper.  For tips and tricks from how to sharpen scissors to adding keys to a keyring without breaking a nail, see Handyman Magazine.  To celebrate smart and sassy DIY women, see Beth Allen’s DIY HIP Chicks channel.

If you’re more into reading “how to” articles, or want more specific advice, you can turn to websites, blogs and online forums.  Homeone is a great website to plan your build, renovation or improvement, and can connect you with domestic builders, tradesmen and suppliers.  Homeone is also stocked full of building, renovation and home improvement articles, and can let you discuss your ideas, projects and more with its home building forum.

Other helpful sites include Mitre 10, Kennards Hire and Do It Yourself.

Tips and tricks, room by room

We’ve prepared some neat little tips and tricks to help increase the value of your newly renovated property.  These inexpensive (and free!) suggestions can help to make or break the sale of your property.

First impressions

What is it about first impressions?  They count!  Keep this in mind when prioritising your renovation works.  Erecting a striking façade will attract prospects to your property, and set a tone and expectation for the interior.  Give buyers the “wow factor” with a fresh coat of paint or rendering, an attractive front door colour and neat landscaping.  Simple jobs like cleaning gutters, plant debris and polished decking make for an exciting entry.

Let there be light

Let a skylight or a window to a northern wall lift your property.  A basic skylight can cost anywhere between $700 and $800.  Consider adding accent lighting with cleverly-positioned floor lamps, adjustable downlights or table lamps.  Choose your lightbulb tone to create a cooler wash or warmer glow.


Earthy-green is calming and easy on the eyes.  Strategically pop a potted plant at the front door and other areas of your property like your bathroom vanity, kitchen corner, table setting, and near seated outdoor areas.  When choosing potted plants, consider the suitability of indoor and outdoor plants, the level of maintenance and size.

Smell good

Let a warming, welcoming scent waft through buyers’ nostrils and calm the senses.  We don’t recommend anything particularly pungent or overpowering.  A delicate scent akin to vanilla cookies or fresh linen is perfect – a scent that can conjure pleasant memories of home.  For your bathroom and any powder rooms, opt for clean, fresh and subtle scents.  If home perfumery is too confusing, simply open windows and doors and let the fresh Australian air cleanse your property!

Soft furnishings

The power of clean, white bed linen should not be underestimated overlooked.  A well-dressed bed hums comfort and relaxation, creating an attractive and desirable resting place.  Let your ideal buyer easily imagine themselves enjoying your property!  Throw cushions for your bed and sitting spaces add character and comfort to a property – opt for classic, neutral colours in varying tones and textures.

The final touch

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how to renovate your property from start to finish.  Whether you’re making improvements to sell and profit or keep and enjoy, we hope you relish the experience of bringing your plans to life.  If you’re looking to buy or build your first home, second home, piece of land or invest in property, or have some blog ideas or feedback, we’d love to hear from you here.  Someone from our friendly team will be in touch.  Happy Renovating!

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