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6 maintenance-friendly renovation tips to make upkeep easy

By Jessie Stewart

If you’re renovating soon, be careful not to fall into cutting corners on areas that will save you time and money down the track – not to mention energy exerted on cleaning and upkeep.

Building and renovating is an expensive exercise at the very best of times, so it can be tempting to cut back wherever possible. However, there are some areas to invest in early on to save you time doing repair work later on.

Not only does this help create a low maintenance home in the long run, it makes it easy to upkeep any wear or tear around your home which is a requirement as part of a home insurance policy, according to Woolworths Insurance.

Woolworths Insurance has teamed up with The Block 2018 winner and master builder Hayden Vale to shares his tips on maintenance-friendly renovations.

1. Professional vs. DIY

Do you bother hiring a qualified tradesperson or can you do it yourself?

Hayden emphasises that electrical and plumbing should be done by a professional. Not only can DIY electrical work be extremely dangerous, it may also be illegal, depending on the job at hand.

It is important from an insurance perspective as home claims caused by poor workmanship will not be covered. If you need to make an emergency claim after your home has completed, Woolworths Insurance has a 24/7 emergency claims assistance service to help customers lodge a home claim and they can help with “make safe” arrangements to prevent further damage to your home.

2. Durable materials

Quality is king when renovating, but budgets don’t always permit the best of everything. If you can’t afford top of the range, try and seek out the next best thing and not automatically jump to the cheapest option.

“For instance, when it comes to flooring, if you’re using laminate instead of solid timber products, you won’t have an opportunity to re-surface those products in future,” Hayden says. “If a floating laminate floorboard gets scratched or suffers from wear and tear, you’ll have to replace the board, whereas a solid timber floor can be sanded back.”

“You also want to make sure you’re using the right material for the right area. For instance, bathrooms and possibly kitchens require a ceramic tile versus a laminate flooring product as (the tiles) perform better in wet areas.”

Hayden suggests checking with your tiler for options that will reduce your chances of slipping when selecting a wet area tile.

Picking the right material depending on the job is important to prevent damage in the long run as some materials are more susceptible to water seepage, which will not be covered by certain home insurance policies, as confirmed by Woolworths Insurance.

3. Go wall-mounted

Hayden recommends wall-mounting cabinets, vanities or basins in wet areas (bathrooms and laundries) as they’re easier to maintain and clean.

“There are options to have floor-mounted units with legs but [the space underneath] often becomes a dead zone because we’re only talking about a space of around 10cm, and this is still hard to clean,” Hayden explains.

“If you wall mount the unit and make the space a bit larger, you can use that area to store towels in baskets that can be easily moved when it comes time to clean.”

4. Insulate properly

Proper construction materials can not only improve the sustainability and longevity of your home, they can be a cost-effective insulator.

“If you can afford to invest in concrete and masonry in construction, namely brick and concrete, you’re going to have a lot more thermal mass, which gives you a better insulation value than other construction materials and insulation batts,” Hayden notes.

“It is expensive, but this will save you on needing to burn through energy using heating and cooling systems down the track.”

5. Don’t forget ventilation

If renovating or building from scratch, it is in your long-term interest to adequately ventilate your bathroom, laundry and kitchen.

“Properly ventilate your wet areas with good window design and mechanical ventilation, like exhaust fans,” Hayden says. “This can help you avoid future issues relating to mould.”

Kitchens – namely, stove tops – also require good ventilation and it’s vital to ensure your range hood is properly connected and able to divert smoke, steam, grease and gasses that arise from cooking.

Also consider if your kitchen has a vent or flute to the outdoors – which can allow smoke to escape – when reviewing your home for ventilation.

6. Pick the right paint

Wet areas require a specialised moisture and mould-resistant paint that won’t be affected by water.

“The ceiling is the main area to focus on. Most paint companies now make a ‘kitchen, laundry, bathroom’ paint which has the properties to resist mould and has a semi-gloss or low sheen finish that you can easily clean down,” Hayden says.

Walls in high traffic areas, like kitchens, could also benefit from a semi-gloss paint or similar variety that is stain-resistant and easily cleaned.

Exteriors need a similarly hardy paint that is low sheen, stain and dirt resistant, waterproof and sun proof, providing UV protection making walls less prone to fading over time.

Keep in mind that when making a home insurance claim, mould or mildew, wet or dry rot, rising damp or dampness are generally excluded from home insurance cover as confirmed by Woolworths Insurance – which makes picking the right paint even more important.


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