There’s no better way to quickly leverage rental income from an investment property than through an effective cosmetic renovation. While you have the tradies on-site, you can knock off several jobs at once, which saves on labour costs. And because there’s no structural work required, there are no lengthy delays due to waiting for approvals, or potentially costly complications that can arise from more complex renovations.
1. Paint throughout
Far and away the biggest bang for your buck is achieved by painting throughout. It instantly erases telltale signs of wear and tear, adds a new lease of life, and provides the opportunity to update tired or ugly colour schemes. Always go for a safe, neutral palette and good-quality paint for investment properties. Painting can be done in a matter of days, not weeks, which is ideal for rental properties. For an investment of a few hundred dollars, you can quite easily triple your return on investment.
2. Revamp the kitchen
Ripping out and replacing a kitchen involves a lot of cost and effort. Tricking up the surfaces is not. Using products like White Knight Tile Paint, Laminate Paint and Bench Top Clear will absolutely transform a kitchen that is basically in good shape but simply has dated tiles, cabinets and benchtops. If time and budget allow, you could also look at updating appliances. (You can get entire appliance packages, including cooktop, oven, rangehood and dishwasher, for well under $1,500 if you shop around.)
3. Revamp the bathrooms
The same goes for bathrooms. Don’t even think about touching the plumbing or ripping up tiles – that could unearth all kinds of problems best left buried for now. Just break out the speciality paint products to update the surfaces, and maybe think about minor cosmetic updates like new tapware, towel racks, perhaps a new mirrored shaving cabinet and definitely a clear glass shower screen if you’ve got one of those ugly ’70s numbers with dimpled glass.
4. Polish or update the floors
If the carpets are old, worn and smelly, ditch them immediately! And my advice would be not to replace them, as you’ll undoubtedly be up for replacement costs in another few years. Hard surfaces are so much easier to maintain. If possible (and permitted, if you’re in an apartment block), sand and polish any bare timber boards underneath. Otherwise, products like stick-on Gerﬂor vinyl flooring from Bunnings start from around $30/square metre and will go over virtually any stable, hard surface.
5. Change the window coverings
Daggy lace curtains, vertical blinds and basically any window coverings that are an eyesore should go. They are rarely expensive to replace, especially if you buy off-the-shelf options like slimline micro-venetians. They wear well and are great for both privacy and filtering in light (or filtering out a not-so-great outlook).
6. Change the light fittings
Again, an easy, inexpensive cosmetic update, but you will need to bring in an electrician to change the fittings. Lights from places like IKEA and Bunnings mimic all the latest designs but at a fraction of the cost of designer lights. You could go for a ‘wow factor’ feature light if you’re feeling brave (there are some fabulous industrial lights around that you can buy on the internet at modest prices), or play it safe and buy tasteful pendant lights or ceiling sconces.
7. Add an extra bedroom
Not every layout lends itself to an extra bedroom, but if there’s a disused dining room or dead space that could be easily converted to a bedroom, then definitely consider it. Sometimes a layout flip – a ‘reordering of rooms’ – can yield an extra bedroom. Be sensible about it, and don’t sacrifice a perfectly good layout to create a cupboard.
8. Make open-plan
Non-load-bearing walls are not difficult to remove, so if you have one that is carving up an otherwise free-flowing, open-plan space, think about getting rid of it. In older properties there is often a wall separating the kitchen and dining/living room, which it makes sense to take out if you want a more modern layout.
9. Improve the street appeal
You can tackle this one yourself. Break out the clippers, broom, hose and cleaning products, and give the front of the place a really good going over. Clear out any rubbish, have the lawn mowed and fertilised, tidy garden beds, and make sure there’s nothing that is going to put off potential renters or buyers.
10. Add a deck
Creating a useable outdoor entertaining space adds great tenant appeal. You can buy modular decks that don’t require any hole-digging and footings; you can literally pack them up and move them to the next place if necessary.
is the CEO of Renovating for Profit,
which teaches Australians how to
buy and cosmetically renovate
properties for a profit.
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