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Cost Effective Renovations

How do you get the biggest bang for your renovation buck? Domain consulted the experts to discover the most cost-effective renovations that could make the biggest difference to your home. From minor additions to big-ticket structural changes, here’s what they had to say.

Install a skylight

Let there be light. Skylight, that is. Georgia McKay, a project manager at Buildwise Projects in Melbourne, says adding a skylight – or window to a northern wall – can make a huge difference to a dark room or hallway. “There are some very fancy skylights available, but if you go for a basic model, it costs about $700 to $800,” McKay says. High-end models can cost more than $4000.

Rip up the carpet

Scuzzy carpets are out. Timber floors are in. “Polished floors are really nice and clean – and they’re great if people have pets,” McKay says. Expect to pay from about $30 per square metre to sand and polish floorboards. If there aren’t timber floorboards under the carpet, consider overlay flooring.

“You can go from very ordinary-looking floors to a real wow factor. And rugs work really well.”

Repair the roof

It’s not the sexiest job on the renovation wish list, but McKay says roof repairs can have an enormous impact. Ensure the gutters are in order, the insulation is effective and there are no structural defects.

“People go and do all these fancy things inside the house, then the roof leaks. I always say, start at the top, then work down,” she says.

Reconfigure living spaces

Outdated or dark living spaces can leave you feeling boxed in, says Richard Misso, creative director at The Stylesmiths, which offers interior design services in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The solution? Ask a builder if non-structural walls can be removed to open up the living areas. It could cost as little as $1500.

“The end result will add some serious value to the way you live,” Misso says.

Create an ‘intertaining’ unit

Let’s face it, even the most impressive televisions are just big black voids when they’re switched off. Organising your family room by installing shelving and cabinets to hide technology when not in use will “give your home a sense of maturity and elegance”, Misso says. Expect to pay from about $2000 for a built-in entertainment unit.

Add an extra bedroom

When it’s time to put your home on the market, an extra bedroom can make a big difference to your bottom line. Rob Williamson, a project manager at Elliot Projects in Sydney, says a 20-square-metre extra bedroom could cost as little as $40,000 – depending on the complexity of the job.

“Sometimes it can go in the attic. You can shuffle rooms around a bit and make another room or extend out the back or underneath, depending on the block,” Williamson says.

Build an en suite

As anyone who has ever lived with a toilet-training toddler or shower-hogging teen could attest, sharing a bathroom is the pits. If the plumbing is in the right position, it could cost as little as $15,000 to add a very basic en suite, Williamson says.

Boost the street appeal

“First impressions count for a lot,” says Danny Cobden, director of Sydney real estate agency Cobden & Hayson. He recommends landscaping the front garden and making the sure the front facade looks tidy. “Often an economical makeover of the front garden and facade can completely change the look of a property and serves to maximise street appeal,” Cobden says.

Refresh paint and fittings

A lick of paint can go a long way towards giving a tired space a fresh look. Cobden suggests repainting internal walls and ceilings, as well as replacing any dated light fittings and handles on doors.

“This will have the effect of creating a new look very economically,” he says.

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