If You Could Renovate One Room Only... Which would it be? Which would have the best return on investment?

According to Cathy Morrissey, of The Reno Chick, the answer is a no-brainer.

“If I had to say what gets people in the door, it is the front yard, your outdoor room,” says Morrissey, who has managed seven renovations since 2012. Each has returned a six-figure sum.

“That’s because if you can’t get them (prospective buyers) in the first 10 seconds, if you can’t make a good impression, you will never have a chance.”

If I had to say what gets people in the door, it’s the front yard.

Morrissey says her own daughter is currently looking to buy a home and already has decided not to stop and inspect 20 houses because she hasn’t liked the front yard.

“Investors don’t care so much because they are thinking about what they can do to improve it themselves but for owner occupants it’s their home so spend a little if that is all you have and it will bring the best return on your outlay.

“Make that positive first impression and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to do it.”

If you have less than $500, Morrissey suggests you:

  • Buy some new plants and flowers
  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean the concrete
  • Remove rubbish
  • Prune existing foliage
  • Add some fresh mulch
  • Paint the front fence

She recently spent $6,000 cosmetically refreshing the front of an investment property in Sydney. She says the 35-day paint-and-gardens project made her $105,000 profit.

“Paint the fence if you can and get the front yard looking really neat because that will get people in your front door.”


Kitchen a sure winner

The kitchen of almost any property will return the best bang-for-your-renovation bucks when it comes time to sell, he says.

“I would say it is probably one of the most expensive (rooms) to do but for returns I would have to say the kitchen,” Hall says.

“If a buyer comes in, it really looks like a lot of money has been spent and a lot of hard work when they are confronted with a new kitchen but it actually doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Hall’s tips for saving money on your kitchen include:

  • Shopping for a package of appliances including range-hood, oven and cook-top
  • Buy flat packed kitchens and install yourself if you can
  • Buy a mainstream brand of appliances suitable to your target market
  • Don’t over-capitalise

“If you do have a bit of cash to spend, while it is the bigger ticket investment it will bring the biggest return on spend because it is your home’s highest traffic area and everyone really wants that open-plan flow to an impressive-looking kitchen.

“You will pay $15K-$20K for a top end kitchen, $10K-$15K for a very good kitchen but you could expect a return of three times minimum on that spend.

“In this current market you can sometimes get up to five times your investment on your kitchen reflected in your post-renovation valuation price.”

Cherie Barber of Renovating for Profit also thinks a kitchen is the most important room as “buyers love a smartly renovated, modern kitchen and, done well, you’ll always get a good return on investment.”

“Between $7,500 to $12,500 is a reasonable ballpark to budget for an average kitchen reno; obviously a lot more for a luxury fit out,” Barber says.

“I always say your kitchen reno budget should be no more than 2% of your property’s current value.

“The other really important room, for the same reasons, is the bathroom …”

Don’t forget the wet areas

Experts, including Justin Lilburne from JPP Buyers Advocates who renovates in his spare time, say updating a bathroom can potentially add sizeable value provided its bath, shower and toilet remain in their original locations.

If you don’t have to move these fixtures’ pipes you could save a lot of money and get maximum return on your renovation.

“A quick update could be done for $5,000-$10,000 and the return on investment would be$30,000-$40,000,” Lilburne says.

“However, adding an additional bathroom will increase the number of potential buyers and this will increase the gain; keeping mind it will depend on the type of dwelling and location of the existing plumbing along with ease of access.”

Source: Real Estate Australia (Caroline James)

What Not to Do as a New Homeowner


Avoid these easy-to-prevent mistakes that could cost you big time

We know so well the thrill of owning your own house — but don’t let the excitement cause you to overlook the basics. We’ve gathered up a half dozen classic boo-boos new homeowners often commit — and give you some insight on why each is critically important to avoid.

1. Not Knowing Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve Is

Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home’s interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight — including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

Quick-twitch reaction is needed to stave off a major bummer. Before disaster hits, find your water shutoff valve, which will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone knows where it’s located and how to close the valve. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when you need it to.

2. Not Calling 811 Before Digging a Hole

Ah, spring! You’re so ready to dig into your new yard and plant bushes and build that fence. But don’t — not until you’ve dialed 811, the national dig-safely hotline. The hotline will contact all your local utilities who will then come to your property — often within a day — to mark the location of underground pipes, cables, and wires.

This free service keeps you safe and helps avoid costly repairs. In many states, calling 811 is the law, so you’ll also avoid fines.

3. Not Checking the Slope of Foundation Soil

The ground around your foundation should slope away from your house at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Why? To make sure that water from rain and melting snow doesn’t soak the soil around your foundation walls, building up pressure that can cause leaks and crack your foundation, leading to mega-expensive repairs.

This kind of water damage doesn’t happen overnight — it’s accumulative — so the sooner you get after it, the better (and smarter) you’ll be. While you’re at it, make sure downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from your house.

4. Not Knowing the Depth of Attic Insulation

This goes hand-in-hand with not knowing where your attic access is located, so let’s start there. Find the ceiling hatch, typically a square area framed with molding in a hallway or closet ceiling. Push the hatch cover straight up. Get a ladder and check out the depth of the insulation. If you can see the tops of joists, you definitely don’t have enough.

The recommended insulation for most attics is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose. BTW, is your hatch insulated, too? Use 4-inch-thick foam board glued to the top.

5. Carelessly Drilling into Walls

Hanging shelves, closet systems, and artwork means drilling into your walls — but do you know what’s back there? Hidden inside your walls are plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

You can check for some stuff with a stud sensor — a $25 battery-operated tool that detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts.

But stud sensors aren’t foolproof. Protect yourself by drilling only 1¼ inches deep max — enough to clear drywall and plaster but not deep enough to reach most wires and pipes.

Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches — wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

6. Cutting Down a Tree

The risk isn’t worth it. Even small trees can fall awkwardly, damaging your house, property, or your neighbor’s property. In some locales, you have to obtain a permit first. Cutting down a tree is an art that’s best left to a professional tree service.

Plus, trees help preserve property values and provide shade that cuts energy bills. So think twice before going all Paul Bunyan.


Article Credits: House LogicJohn Riha