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What Renovation Adds Value?

By Rachel Wallace

While it’s impossible to quantify exactly how much a renovation adds to your sale, plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests it does make a difference.

The REA Property Seeker Survey (December 2020) found 84% of sellers undertook some kind of renovation before they sold. On top of that, two in three felt that the sales price increased, even after taking out the cost of the renovation.

“Even smaller renovations, such as updating flooring, paint or light fittings, makes a difference,” REA economic analyst Paul Ryan explains.

“They make the house look well-maintained and can also present a blank slate for new buyers who can better-picture themselves living in the house.

“Then, if you move up the scale of renovations, anything that adds functionality will have an impact on price. That could be adding a bedroom or adding more natural light through windows.”

The trick for maximising your return comes from knowing where to spend and where to save.

We spoke to experts in the field of building and renovating to gauge where your money is best spent. Here’s what they had to say.


REA data indicates 19% of sellers updated their floors and thought this had a positive effect on their sale price. It was the second most common alteration made by people selling their homes, with paint being the first.

Carpet Court National Merchandise Manager for Carpet and Hard Flooring Brett Talbot says potential buyers will immediately notice new flooring.

“I would recommend to [get your floors] done,” Brett says. “It ticks a box when a potential buyer walks into a home and it’s one less inhibitor they may have when considering purchasing.”

Hybrid or laminate floors are easy to lay and look fresh.

Brett says that carpet is the cheapest update, however timber-look flooring may be more desirable.

“I’d lean towards something like a hybrid or laminate for hard flooring,” he says. “Laminate is an entry-level, cheaper option. It’s very hard wearing and also looks quite fresh. Hybrid is a fantastic option where it can go down in a reasonably fast time frame and add a real fresh approach to the house.”


The kitchen and bathroom are two of the highest impact areas. They’re also the most expensive to renovate.

Experienced builder and director of construction and renovation company Supa Group, Matt Howard, says understanding the local market can help determine the return on investment on your kitchen reno.

“It’s about understanding what your local market is, what the expectation is and then working out what will give you bang for your buck from there,” he shares.

“For instance, if you’re in a [less expensive] market, you’re not going to sink $40k into a kitchen when local homeowners aren’t going to see the value in it. Whereas if you’re in a more premium market, like Brighton [in Victoria, for example], you’re not going to go for a cheap finish.”

You don’t need to do the entire kitchen, but a few aesthetic touches, like cabinet handles and splashbacks, could help spruce things up.

While your kitchen may need an entire overhaul, you could also do aesthetic changes such as cabinet doors, handles or benchtops.

“If you’re going to do a kitchen renovation, the starting point would be benchtops,” Matt explains. “If you’ve got old, laminate benchtops, [changing them to] reconstituted stone isn’t that expensive any more.”

However, consider if you’re going to disturb any tiles in this process, whether that be on your floor or walls. If removing a bench top will cut into your splash back, Matt suggests upgrading to a simple glass variety for ease and to add a modern touch.

Furthermore, if you do want to retile the floor, you could consider a hybrid tile. This new flooring technology offers a floating floor option that doesn’t require as much of a financial or time investment as laying ceramic tile.


Renovating the bathroom is going to be a big budget-suck. However, if a potential buyer thinks they’re going to need to do a bathroom renovation, they may ignore your home altogether. It’s about weighing up the necessity with the return.

When it comes to finding savings on a bathroom renovation, it comes down to your selections. Price ranges between basic and premium products can be quite significant in this area.

“You can spend $150 on a toilet, or you can spend $1500,” Matt explains. “Being disciplined in your selections, especially around chinaware and tapware, will make a massive difference to your budget.”


Light is a huge factor when it comes to buying and your home is going to have a bigger impact if it looks light and airy.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to start knocking down walls and putting in skylights just yet.

You may be able to create the illusion of more light and space via a few aesthetic changes. For instance, clearing out the clutter should be your first step. Reducing bulky furniture and overcrowded zones will make a room feel more airy. Step two might be a paint job in a lighter shade.

When selling your home, it helps to create more light and space.

The next step could involve changing your window coverings. Outdated blinds or curtains can change the look of an entire room.

Swap old vertical blinds to a more stylish and modern option. Similarly, swap bulky and heavy curtains for sheer linen drapery or a more modern shutter.


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