Aiming for the best bang for my reno buck



Hi to all the budding investors out there. I hope you have had a month of success and you have been learning a lot about this exciting (and sometimes frustrating) industry.

Well so much is happening with changes to the First Home Buyers Grant, stamp duty etc etc…oops I digress, sorry!

I promise not to wander all over the place and I will pick up from where I left off last. My main projects I'm juggling between are buying a property through my newly set up Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF) and completing a reno on my current house. The reno is coming along fine although I am a little behind where I would like to be due to work and generally the complexities of life (so much quicker if I didn’t have to work).

Houses generally as a rule sell better in the warmer months of the year and here in Qld we are into spring and soon summer. I have a deadline of no later than the first week of October to get my place on the market (summer and before Christmas are all key points). I will be selling it with the assistance of a property investor (and now my mentor) as he has a real estate licence. This will keep the commission I pay lower and I will also learn by working closely with him during the promote and sell periods.

My reno plans have changed a few times over the course of the last 6 months. I am aiming for the best bang for my buck while doing the least possible but still adding value to the property. It sounds impossible doesn’t it!

I have a small, 3 bedroom (after I turned an under roof veranda area into another bedroom) very old timber ‘Queenslander’. I am looking at attacking the main areas a buyer would focus in on. These are (not in any particular order) the kitchen, the bathroom and the external appearance. 

I downloaded a basic ‘free’ piece of software off the web which I have used to enter in all my reno costs against a rough budget I have in another column. This keeps me on track and stops me getting carried away - which is all too easy to do. You will be amazed what sorts of spreadsheets, etc. are available on the web for free.

I had a 70’s old style dark brown brick wall at the front of the house (oh so ugly). To save money and update I had it rendered. I got a hold of a local guy from the local paper, which worked out to be half the price of some of my other quotes. He rendered it but didn’t paint it as I can easily do that myself.

Since that day I have done the following:

·         Hired a high pressure cleaner for the entire outside of the house including all concrete and paved areas. The driveway came out well with a water blaster and hence was unnecessary to paint it. If it didn’t I was prepared to have it bagged and a colour added.

·         Hired a chain saw and cut down some ugly trees preventing a view of the park behind me. This opened it up, let in more light and gives an open space view of the park. It made the whole backyard look larger

·         Removed the old Hills Hoist that was stuck in the middle of the yard and fitted a folding clothes line

·         Removed any and all overgrown and ugly vegetation from around the house. Re-mulched, used stones (these are great for hiding bad areas of a garden or over old cement paths). This made areas look clean and crisp. I then added some suitable plants where they were needed.

·         I repaired fencing and gates instead of replacing.

·         I repainted portions (by paint matching) and touched up other external areas instead of doing a full house repaint.

·         I have a detached garage which I will clean out and promote as an additional detached living area. It seems that detached living areas are big on a buyers shopping list and are even a preference to an additional bedroom (extra rent or maybe to keep the kids at arm’s length).

Since I'm going a bit long here, I'll end this post with a few of the lessons I've learned so far:

1.       Keep a reno to sell as basic as possible (as against a reno to live in)

2.       Get free software off the web or build your own basic spreadsheet. You really need to keep on top of those quotes, time line and costs

3.       Repair instead of replace if it’s cheaper

4.       Use local tradespeople as they are often a lot cheaper but always get 3 quotes. Oh yeah and let them know you are getting 3 quotes!

5.       Hire a lot of the expensive gear you might need instead of buying

6.       Always look for clean crisp areas that lend themselves to multi-purposes (appeals to more buyers)

If you have any specific questions then just drop a comment and I will do my best to answer. From what I have seen the property market is far from quiet at the moment and a lot of smart operators are out there doing some great deals.

Bottom line, things will always go pear shaped so just learn to smile and keep moving forward as the alternative is to stress out and give up, which will get you nowhere fast!



Whether you are looking to buy your first home, move home, refinance, or invest in property, a mortgage broker can help. Access loans from all the major lenders, get help with paperwork – plus there is no charge for this service. Get help from a local mortgage broker


Recently divorced and just about 15 years from what he had thought would be his retirement age, Kevin is afraid he won’t be ready. But he’s now doing something about it, and aiming to use his passion for property to help him get back on track. He is starting from zero after giving up the two investment properties he had bought with his ex-wife, but he has big plans ahead as he strikes out on his own.

Top Suburbs : midland , toowong , leumeah , windale , rockville

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