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Property expert Andrew Winter’s top renovation tips

Hidden costs can be a “nasty surprise” to your budget, the real estate expert says.

Keen to spruce up your home this year? You’re not the only one, with new research finding around half of homeowners are planning to do renovations or make home improvements in 2024.

Andrew Winter, real estate expert and host of Selling Houses and Love It or List It Australia has seen his fair share of home makeovers. Whether you’re looking to renovate your home for sale, or you’re just keen for a change, here are his top tips and the traps to avoid.

Andrew Winter, property expert on home renovation tips.
Andrew Winter is the new property expert for Compare the Market, who found 52 per cent of homeowners were planning a renovation this year. (Source: Compare the Market)

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

1. Add ‘tangible value’ to your home

If you’re renovating with the intention to sell your property in the near future, Winter said it was important to make sure the renovations actually added “tangible value”.

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“The primary ones are anything that involves adding rooms,” Winter told Yahoo Finance. “That’s not always the case of having to extend. Some people convert a garage into a room but then you lose the garage. So, as long as you have a driveway or the ability to put up a carport or a structure to compensate for that loss.

Another option could be to create an extra room out of a large open-plan living area, which may not be as practical for your day-to-day life.

“If you have a big enough space, you can create rooms within rooms and I’ve seen that work quite successfully,” Winter said. “You can literally section a room off and suddenly you’ve gained a study or a family room. That can be a real value add and it’s no more than the cost of walling and flooring.”

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2. Think about your design choices

If you’re hoping to sell in the near future, Winter also recommended being mindful of the design choices you made for your home.

“I’d hate for people not to choose design choices they like because it’s their home,” he said. “But bear in mind that, if you think you are going to sell it in the near future, if you go for anything very distinctive or very offbeat or controversial, make sure you do that in something that is changeable.

“So, not in bathroom tiles but maybe a feature wall here or there, or kitchen cabinetry - some of the doors could be a strong colour that you really love, that’s fine.”

Winter said you could let your individual taste shine through in areas like fabrics, wall colours and flooring - things that could easily be removed or changed.

“Even with tap wear, there are lots of different choices,” Winter told Yahoo Finance. “It was only a little while ago that everybody wanted rose gold, and that lasted about a week.”

3. DIY what you can

If you’re looking for ways to cut down costs, Winter recommends doing what you can yourself - or enlisting the help of a friend or family member - to save on labour costs.

“Electrical fittings, gas fittings, plumbing issues or anything like that obviously needs to be done by a registered professional,” Winter said.

“[But] if you are having your bathroom done, stripping out your bathroom ready for the contractors will save you several days’ worth of labour.

“Likewise, any painting or tiling or sourcing of building materials you can do. There’s nothing stopping you going and sourcing online and checking the shops out and getting [everything] ready to go.”

4. Don’t forget about hidden costs

When setting your budget, don’t forget about the hidden costs - including council approvals, legal fees and insurance.

“Often, for simple renovations, they are only a few hundred,” Winter said. “But if you start getting into development applications and building approvals, then you can start to get into the thousands and it can suddenly be a bit of a nasty surprise.”

You can ring your local council to see how much approvals would set you back.

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