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20 Practical Tips for Renovating Your Rental Properties

Property investors always talk about buying low, bang on some renovation et voilà!  Capital Gain!  But as it has always been said, easier said than done, what exactly do you have to do to a property to maximise its capital potential?  

We had a dig through the APIA archives and look what we found!  A vintage oldie but a goodie – Cliff Seque’s 20 top tips for rental property renovation.  Here we go:

  1. Don’t over capitalise and do a rough budget based on quotes or estimates for the expensive items.  Spend the most on what will be used the most and that you really want to last, e.g. appliances, plumbing, lighting and all horizontal surfaces i.e. flooring, bench tops, vanities, showers, etc.
  2. Be generous with plugs for appliances, lamps, stereos, televisions, computers and heaters.
  3. Neutral backgrounds allow tenants to create their own identify with their belongings.  Dominant colours, patterns and textures control the atmosphere of the space.
  4. Wallpaper can be an excellent choice for general maintenance especially washable and scrub-able vinyl.  A good way of hiding imperfect walls.  
  5. Avoid coarse or heavy textures for interior use as they absorb so much dirt, smell and dust and are harder to clean e.g. bricks, textured ceilings, long piled carpets.
  6. Pay attention to safety issues and that they comply.  This includes: stairs and handrails, balconies, decks and terraces, smoke alarms, hearths for wood burners and fires, access to the exterior, somewhere handy to the range to put a hot pot that won’t damage the surface such as tiles or stainless steel. 
  7. Window treatments should retain heat, provide privacy and control the light.  They should be easily operated and firmly secured.  Avoid curtains in doorways.
  8. Interior decorating schemes can be inspired by the style of architecture, existing fixtures and fittings, the outlook or personal preference.  Spaces can skillfully be manipulated by the use of colour, texture and pattern.  Lighter colours recede, darker colours advance.  Smooth textures recede, coarse textures advance.  Subtle patterns recede, contrasting patterns advance.
  9. Pattern can be used to disguise defects in design, structure and style.  Clever applications on any surface can enhance an environment but must be chosen with care.
  10. Wall hung cabinetry or vanity and shelves can be coloured the same as the walls to create an illusion of space whereas in contrast they would stand out.
  11. Provide plenty of good, easily accessed storage.
  12. Supply uncomplicated, reliable, well designed appliances that are easy to operate and clean and have a good service record.
  13. Consider the use of timber for doors, framing, skirting boards, stairway handrails and dado lines because of its durability and long-term beauty.  Don’t use MDF in wet areas.
  14. Paint is the most versatile medium.  Use high gloss enamels on all doors, window framing, and skirting boards.  Use semi-gloss acrylic on walls (low sheen on imperfect walls) and anti mould paint in ceilings – dulux mould shield or similar.
  15. Carpet is a wise flooring choice being soft and comfortable plus an insulating surface which helps with noise control.  Use darker colours with a fleck or a small pattern.  I prefer wool of extra heavy duty domestic or greater.  If short pile use thick underlay to give an impression of softness.
  16. A mirror creates an illusion of space and is great in small bathrooms.
  17. Allow for efficient ventilation to remove household smells and moisture to disappear.  Vent to outside.  If redesigning kitchen, put range on a outside wall if possible and use flexible aluminium ducting off the top of the range food to outside.  In bathrooms fit a heat, light and fan unit and have the electrician wire it up so that the fan goes when they use the heat or light function.  Have windows that can be secured open with ease.
  18. Use ceramic disc taps in high use areas – kitchen, vanities and showers (single lever if possible).
  19. Plan to have adequate lighting.  In dark rooms or long rooms, fit extra overhead lights.  Make sure there is outside lights around entrance door areas and areas that may be used at night i.e. patios, main entrance path etc.
  20. I like to use 1830mm stainless steel sink bench in a breakfast bar design.  This enables a 600mm wide dishwasher to be fitted in the bench either side of the sink with drawers on the other side.  The services are run through a 100×50 framework at the back of the cupboard.

Cliff kindly shared these tips with us back in 2010.  How up-to-date do you find them?  What are your top renovation tips?  Leave a comment below to share!

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