HOME renovations are easy, right?
Some DIY lessons at the local Bunnings, a decent enough toolkit, and a willingness to get your hands dirty is all that is needed to transform a desk jockey into a weekend tradie.
Why employ a professional when you can do as the blokes do on Better Homes and Gardens and install your own water feature, build your own backyard aviary or make a statement letter box out of the remains of a discarded wooden kennel?
Not to mention the value it will add to your home!
This kind of pluck and misplaced derring-do is well known to CEO of service.com.au, Dan Kerr.
“There are so many DIY shows at the moment and people think they are the DIY king or queen,” Mr Kerr said.
“They will try and lay their own tiles or do their own waterproofing and end up contacting us.
“In the end, it can be more expensive to fix the job than if they had brought in a tradesman to begin with.”
Cathy Morrissey, aka The Reno Chick, runs a business advising other homeowners on how to flip for profit, and has seen many a renovation disaster in her time.
But none quite so confounding as the renovation job on the investment property she bought in Sydney’s west in 2009.
While the kitchen and bathrooms looked like display homes, the rest of the property had been “renovated on the cheap”.
The beautiful new kitchen.
“They had spent between $10,000 and $20,000 renovating the kitchen and the bathroom was magnificent, but it was a half-renovated home,” Ms Morrissey said.
“They had painted the rooms themselves and even painted over the actual light switches.
They built their own handmade bar, which was just a bit of wood nailed together.
“They had no idea.”
Ms Morrissey went on to finish the renovation and sell for a profit, and the experience highlighted to her the golden rule of a renovation budget.
“You need to lay out a budget beforehand and stick to it otherwise you run the risk of overcapitalising,” she said.
Most renovators are under the impression that they need to spend all their money on the kitchen and bathroom, but that’s not necessarily the case.
There is no point in installing a designer kitchen in a $500,000 home, as you’re not matching the “cost to the value”, according to Ms Morrissey.
“I say to people that in order to prevent overcapitalising they should budget for about 5 per cent of the value of your home: that is your total renovation budget,” Ms Morrissey said.
“If they plan to spend a bit more time in the home before selling, say five to seven years, then they can spend up to 7 per cent as they will make that money back in capital growth.”
Property expert at financial comparison site Mozo.com.au, Steve Jovcevski, agreed that the degree of renovation has to match the rest of the home.
“Renovators should avoid installing high-end upgrades above the level of finish of the house as this could also adversely impact its resale value,” he said.
“When it comes to adding resale value, it’s always a better renovation strategy to bring the entire home up to a certain standard of quality rather than putting all of your resources into one room.”
Mr Jovcevski also added that homeowners should steer clear of renovation projects that appeal to a small number of buyers, as this could substantially lower the resale value of their home.
“An in-ground swimming pool might be an attractive feature for some, but many potential homebuyers may see it as a hassle, costly to maintain and even dangerous, especially if they have a young family,” he said.
“Potential buyers may even factor maintenance expenses or the future costs of filling in the pool into their final offer.”
Updating the exterior of a home could prove a costly renovation mistake, as well.
“Splashing thousands of dollars on modern textures, like alucobond, may cause the property to seem out of place in a street of, say, federation homes and is likely to harm its capital growth prospects,” Mr Jovcevski said.
Mr Kerr added that some sellers spend a fortune on rendering their home when a “wash or a paint job could have a similar effect”.
“Many sellers will also go nuts on landscape design and install boxed hedges and water features, and some buyers will be put off by this because it looks like they need to hire a fulltime gardener,” he said.