Small projects, big profits

Small projects, big profits

By Dinah Lewis Boucher

Thinking big never hurt nobody. All the same, you probably shouldn’t dive head first into that property project with zero experience or guidance.

While you may have the big picture tucked away safely somewhere, starting small in property is generally the best plan of attack. And when it comes to property projects, what better way to begin than with a straightforward cosmetic renovation?

We chat with three well-known property gurus happy to share their knowhow and renovation wisdom.

Television host and award-winning interior designer extraordinaire Shaynna Blaze shares a few helpful hints and tips in our Q&A…

What’s the most important thing would-be renovators should know before embarking on their first renovation to add value to a property?

“Look at the demographic of the area and who lives there. If the suburb is very family-orientated, you need to make sure that what you’re renovating is working within those parameters. For example, sacrificing a third or fourth bedroom for a huge media room could lose you instant value.”

What’s your top renovation tip to add value to a property?

“Street appeal – always make sure your garden and the front of the house is not only neat but stands out in the street. A great front door or the addition of a verandah to an old home can add more than the money you’ve put in.”

How can our readers avoid over-capitalising when it comes to renovating their homes or investment properties?


Shaynna Blaze

“Renovating a home you’re staying in for 20 years, I feel, it’s very hard to over-capitalise unless you’re creating a palace on a suburban block. Renovating to what you love and how you live means you’re investing in you, rather than the property.

“Investment properties, however, are another matter, so you have be sure of your timeline and the reason for renovating. If you’re getting ‘in and out’ in a short time, say one to two years, do just enough to make it feel shiny and new. New paint, a simple kitchen or bathroom upgrade with medium priced surfaces and appliances is perfect. If you’re doing a renovation to rent out the place over five to 10 years, be careful how cheap you go on kitchens and bathrooms as you need taps and appliances that are going to last the distance and not be replaced every two or three years. Sometimes ‘cheap’ can be a false economy.”

And lastly, what are your tips for making our renovation budget stretch as far as possible?

“Do as much labour as possible with demolition, rubbish removal, painting and cleaning the site, as labour can be the most expensive part of the process. Seek out auction houses (retail outlets) for scratch and dent items, as well as overstocked ranges, and buy near the end of the tax year and after Christmas, as businesses are clearing stock. Do the footwork yourself for researching items or even volunteer to pick up things rather than delivery, as every $50 does add up in the end.”

Known for their talent for transforming the old into the new – all while increasing your property value in the process – Reno Kings Geoff Doidge and Paul Eslick share a few of their top tips for your kitchen and bathroom, from their latest eBook 124 Ways to Add Value and Increase Rent.

Where do you cook up equity?

Kitchen: Dark and dingy kitchen? Eslick recommends adding skylights to increase light and ventilation. “They’re fabulous to brighten up an internal kitchen. They also slash lighting costs in these areas – great for appearance and a great money saver for tenants.”

Other kitchen ideas: If you’re on a tight budget, the kitchen can be refreshed just by painting the kitchen cupboards, installing a new splashback and updating the handles.

If it’s time to demolish, the Reno Kings suggest purchasing a flatpack or secondhand kitchen.

Bathroom: The next key area of your house to add equity.

Remember to aim for “BBC”, Eslick says – Bigger, Brighter, Cleaner!

“Any colour is okay as long as it’s white.”

Painting: “Specially formulated bath and tile paint can work wonders if you have outdated tiles and colours.”

Paul highly recommends White Knight Tub n’ Tile product.

“This isn’t just any paint, it’s specially designed epoxy enamel for this use.”

Tip: “Preparation is paramount. Follow the instructions to the letter or you may be disappointed with the result.”

Other bathroom tips include:

–          Re-grouting tiles: This can make old tiles look new again.

–          Re-silicone seals.

–          Shower screens over shower curtain.

–          New vanity: imported vanities are very inexpensive and can lift the whole look.

–          New toilet seat and/or new taps for a quick and inexpensive refresh.

Last handy hint: Add a bedroom!

This is one of the easiest ways to increase the rent, Eslick explains.

“If that extra bedroom doesn’t leap out at you when you’re inspecting the property, take the dimensions of the house and draw the floor plan on graph paper. Often, once it’s on paper you’ll see the solution.”


About Dinah Lewis-Boucher

Dinah Lewis-Boucher is a staff journalist with Australian Property Investor magazine.

Original author: Dinah Lewis-Boucher
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