A man’s home is his castle − and usually his most valuable asset. Property values generally appreciate over time, but canny homeowners know that well-thought-out home improvements can dramatically improve a property's value even more quickly.
Use these seven tips to ensure you get the most out of your home improvements:
Have a plan.
Take a good look at your home, inside and out, in order to assess its strengths and weaknesses.
You live in the place, so you have an insider’s understanding of what just doesn’t work, and what you’ve always wanted to change. However, as an insider, there’s probably a lot that you don’t see − enlist a friend or relative to give you an opinion.
Even better, a trusted local estate agent would probably be happy to come and give you a valuation and some indications of what potential buyers would be looking for.
Once you have an idea of what should be done, decide what you are prepared to do − and how.
Do you intend to do a massive upgrade, or tackle a number of smaller projects? If the latter, which one will be first?
An important consideration is whether the cost of renovations can be justified by the extra value they will add to the house − if not, perhaps you are being too ambitious.
Call your insurer.
Alterations and renovations can affect your house’s value, and building operations constitute an extra risk. Give your insurer a call to discuss the issues and whether the policy needs adjusting.
Focus on the kitchen and bathrooms.
These are the main common areas of the house, so the quality of the fittings and the layout are most important.
Just adding new fittings, like taps, cupboard and door handles as well as light fittings can be a way to upgrade a kitchen or bathroom; new floors or counters can also be a relatively easy quick fix.
Spend research time in good décor and building supply shops to see what is available − many of them will have displays to show you how to achieve “the look”.
Of course, easy does not rule out expensive, but most estate agents will confirm that money spent on kitchens and bathrooms will usually pay off when the house is sold.
Open things up.
Contemporary living styles favour open-plan areas, with space and practical flow key considerations.
Taking out non-structural walls can create a pleasant sense of space and fits in well with the modern aesthetics − breaking down the barrier between the kitchen and TV room, for example.
Make sure that you have accurate house plans so that you can find out exactly which walls are structural.
Bring in colour and contrast.
A fresh coat of paint is a great way to spruce up a house, and can change the impression it gives.
If you are selling, stick with a neutral palate; whatever you decide to do, take advice from the many good paint shops around. They will usually offer a range of surface coatings − paint isn’t just paint anymore.
These shops are also good places to get advice on what colours will help create the spacious look that is a hallmark of contemporary style. They will also usually have lists of trusted painting contractors.
One of the most important parts of a painting project is the time spent preparing surfaces, repairing cracks and so on. Paint is not cheap, so make sure you get the most out of it.
Let there be light.
Consider installing new or extra light fittings to give an instant makeover. In the same vein, increasing the size of existing windows, or even adding new ones, will help make a room look bigger and more inviting. A skylight could also be an option.
Give your home an attractive setting.
The garden is the setting in which your house exists, and it is also the first thing people see as they arrive. Just keeping the garden neat and clean is a good start, but investing in some trees and shrubs will also improve your quality of life and make the home more appealing to a buyer.
If your house is on the market, investing in a few professionally planted tubs or hanging baskets of flowers will provide an instant splash of colour.
By the same token, and whether you have renovated or not, when showing people round the house, make sure that it is looking its best. Curtains should be open and all clutter cleared away.
Fresh flowers and smell of brewing coffee also work a treat; some estate agents even recommend steeping cloves and cinnamon in boiling water to mimic the smell of baking!
Taking the time to think your plans through, and investing your money wisely, will definitely pay off when it comes to selling your house − and will greatly improve your own living experience in the meantime as well.
*Rory Judd is head of online marketing at MiWay.