Renovation Overkill: Renovating Beyond Return

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There are several reasons people choose to renovate: to improve living conditions, to restore an old house to splendor, to impress and persuade potential buyers. If you’re doing it for yourself because you intend to live in the house for the foreseeable future, at least 20 years or so, then it’s worthwhile. You’ll arrange the house to suit your lifestyle and what you like aesthetically because leaving your home is far from your mind.

Restoration on the other hand becomes a labour of love – minutely detailed and of artistic and historic interest. Getting things back to their original shine can be obsessive, and searching for the exact lantern lights for the front gates, or uncovering an old fireplace dating back to the turn of the nineteenth century can be a truly driven pastime.

But often people renovate to make a quick sale, hoping for a substantial profit. And many people make neither. Renovating to sell has merit, obviously. It’s a good idea to make your home look as attractive as possible – but often people make the mistake of going over the top. And they are very unlikely to recoup the financial layout.

Cold facts

Wherever you live, there are market variables – and there may be many reasons why pricing in one area in relation to another will go up or down with crashes and inflation. But very few owners are willing to sell for less than they paid or less than they imagine the market value of their home to be. So keeping your maintenance up to date would be a basic starter to ensure a return.

Few renovations necessarily increase the value of your house beyond what the renovation has cost. A house may hold value for a prospective buyer for reasons other than just looking pretty. In many cases, disappointed sellers may only recoup around 60 or 70% of their renovation spend.

Obviously, renovations are useful – such as ensuring the roof is sound through proper inspection and perhaps replacement. There are various ways to update a kitchen without spending a fortune, and replacing old windows one by one over a period of time is usually a good idea. However, some renovations bring greater returns than others. And there are several reasons for this.


Location is key. One of the cardinal rules: don’t increase the value of your home beyond the neighbourhood. Area is one of the most pertinent aspects buyers are interested in. That’s why it’s unlikely a house will sell if priced above the going rate for other homes in the area. That means that pricey renovations may bring you no return at all. Convenience is another aspect buyers may seek – such as proximity to shopping centres, schools, or transport. These are factors that often outweigh a swimming pool, open-planning, or even an updated kitchen.

Projects with good returns:

However, there are some instances where people do appreciate your renovating efforts – and it seems that adding a wooden deck is very popular. Sliding windows and shining bathrooms are also motivators. Modern look kitchens are helpful, a well-developed garden and a structurally sound appearance with evidence of good maintenance cannot go amiss. But if you go to the trouble of building on extra space or adding a second floor or building a garage, you may find that the price won’t rise in accordance with grand design.


Don’t forget the importance of curb appeal. Some projects influence the value of a house simply because they make the house look better and more appealing to a prospective buyer who’s just driving by. A newly painted roof and restored windows can make a house look well-kept and maintained, along with window boxes, strong security gates, and a neatly kept garden can provide the sense that this home is loved and cared for – and therefore worth the price being asked.

Tips to ensure your renovation makes a profit

Of course, the best way to save money and avoid spending a fortune is to do it yourself. You’ll avoid labour costs, and make an effort to source materials at wholesale prices. If you have the know-how, the time, and the tools, you can do the work yourself and pay only for materials. But make sure you can do a good job – or hire an expert for the tricky parts. Badly done renovations can lower the offers quicker than you can say, ‘Heath Robinson’.

Many valuable aspects of renovation actually don’t cost that much, and if you’re handy with a drill or a hammer, you could handle much of the less complicated work, saving yourself a bucket of money. You will need the time to put into the work, but the process can be very fulfilling. Building a deck doesn’t require much in the way of specialised equipment or skills, just careful planning and measuring.

Today DIY stores hold just about every application you can imagine – from cleverly designed, easy-to-use flooring options, to countertops, lighting, and a host of bathroom accessories. The choice is vast. The small changes over time build up to a valuable entity that prospective buyers will see when they first enter your home. Keep your changes subtle but effective: a wall handrail on a staircase; an extractor fan and heated towel railings in a bathroom; durable window frames (aluminum or PVC); attractive pot-plants; new door handles, etc.

The possibilities of cost-effective renovation are endless. And it can make a spectacular difference to perception. Plan and effect with strategy, and transfer your home into the desired price range when you sell.

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