Renovation Tips

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Gavan Forster says “it really is a billion dollar industry”

Build.Buy.or Renovate?

With property prices hotter than a tin roofand massive building delays for new homesit's no wonder we're in the grip of a renovation revolution. In the past year, WA's renovation spending spree has sky rocketed, up a record 60%, compared to 40% in South Australia, 35% in Victoria, and just 5% in NSW. Gavan Forster says “if you do invest in your own home that of course will increase the value of it”

Instead of selling up, Master Builder's Gavan Forster says families are staying put. And spending their money on major home make-overs, “investing in your own home is exempt from capital gains tax and the way house prices are rising in the last few years, people aren't over capitalising”

Jo and Steve Edminston says “I think the wonderful thing about it, is you get to choose what sort of house you want from it” When Jo and Steve Edminston compared the cost of selling their home and buying a bigger house, or adding onto their two by one brick and tile...renovating put them streets ahead in the property game. “We kept looking around the area, but in terms of what ended up best value for money were for us to stay here and spend the money on a renovation”

The money they saved on stamp duty, settlement fees and agents commission, is now going toward another bedroom for the kids Peter Buttecia says “the in and out costs of selling and buying again are just huge, on an home it could cost you $20 000 to $40 000 dollars”The couple's builder, Peter Buttecia, says for most families that's half the building costs on the average one hundred thousand dollar reno job, “they look at that and say we'd rather put that in the existing home”

So to make the most of your decorating dollar, we asked several Perth experts to give us the A to Z of renovating do's and don'ts...

Where to get expert advice...

A room by room guide to your renovation rescue...

But first, how to best add value to your property for re-sale

Greg Rossen says “they've got to trade off what is suitable for them, with what is a good investment for re-sale” The Real Estate Institute's Greg Rossen reckons there's no hard and fast rules, but a well planned renovation can double your money, “the things you should look at are those three things, the kitchen bathroom laundry floor covering, painting and lighting are important, as well as window treatments”

We asked Greg to cast his eye over two Perth homes...a three bedroom, two bathroom 1970's brick and tile. and a two bedroom, one bathroom 1920's weather-board

“We've got to be careful about over capitalising, we've got to be careful about how we spend our money”Greg says the owner of the timber cottage can go one of two ways, a more expensive structural extension, or a cheaper cosmetic make-over. So, on a twenty thousand dollar budget, where should they spend the money? Well, Greg says they're best bet is to invest in a new laundry and bathroom, to really cash in, he recommends they go the whole hog, adding two bedrooms and a second bathroom. “maybe it would cost you $100 000, timber frame, reasonably modest, you might add $150 000 to the property” That's a tidy $50 000 dollar profit. and according to Greg's calculations, the same principal applies to this brick and tile. while the three important areas, kitchen, bathroom and laundry are all okay, there's money to be made by doing an extension

But be warned, unlike building from scratch on a bare slab, renovating old homes can be fraught with pitfalls hidden costs can eat away any potential profits, turning your dream home into a money pit. Ben says “there's lots in the building you can't see and once you start pulling down the existing fabric, is when you can find surprises”

Before any construction starts, Architect Ben Crowdis says consult someone who's business is buildings, “if your $100 000 on a renovation, a small amount of professional advice will come back to you ten fold in the resale value”

So here's something for nothing....Ben's top tips for a trouble free alteration

(Expect problems) - expect things to be bumpy, and set money aside for unforseen setbacks

(Stick to a budget) - set a budget, and stick to it

(Get expert advice) - pay for expert advice

(Less stress) - don't renovate if you're already under stress

(Master plan) - and finally, think about your future needs

Making the most of limited space is Gavan Forster's forte. this is his renovation guide, room by room.

First, the kitchen, “how important is it to get the kitchen right? Kitchen should be for functionality and safety”

Topping Gavan's kitchen tips is what's called the golden triangle, that's easy access between the sink, stove, and fridge.

Secondly, make sure you've got enough shelf and cupboard space, and if you have the room, add a pantryDon't skimp on bench space, you'll regret it.And finally make sure you have plenty of power points, ventilation, and bright lights

Now, Gavan's list of top tips for the laundry, Gavan suggests going for a wall mounted dryer, high cupboards, and make sure the room allows moisture to escape, and finally the bathroom, tub versus shower, toilet separate or not? Gavan says because bathrooms are personal, you can't always please a potential buyer, but there are three things you should have. Non slip tiles, temperature controlled taps and showerhead, and a water proof shower recess.

Gavan Forster says “at least have a talk to the builder and get some ideas that will actually work and then use a professional”Follow the basics and the experts say you'll reap the rewards, but the final word of advice is from a family who knows first hand, Jo and Steve says “get a fixed price contract so you know exactly what your in for, get a recommendation on the builder from a friend, and the big one, don't try and stay there if it's going to be big, move out.”