Having competed on the nation’s most popular renovation show, Michael and Carlene Duffy know first-hand what will strike the wealthiest chord when wanting to boost your property’s value. The couple divulge the home improvement essentials that make a difference.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can take your home’s rental yield or market value from comfortable to life-changing – and it can be as straightforward as stepping foot outside and assessing the greenery.

In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by Hort Innovation revealed that a staggering 93% of Rain and Horne real estate agents said that they would advise their clients to improve their lawn if planning to sell, and 40% of agents agreed that an attractive lawn has the potential to elevate a home’s value by over 20%.

Working off CoreLogic’s national median house value for March of $554,229, this percentage increase comes in at just over $110,000.

Peter Diamantidis from Raine & Horne St Marys says that incorporating a new lawn is not only easier on the pocket but can “deliver a good return” and “attract more buyers”.

“Too many times I’ve had buyers walk away from a property simply because of a poorly presented front yard and the prospective buyers can not see past it,” Diamantidis shares.

Michael and Carlene Duffy, former contestants on Channel Nine’s The Block, share that their lawn has played an integral part in the success of their home on a whole.

“Our grassed courtyard is a hero in the design. Functionally, it provides a soft surface for which the kids and the dog can play and provides a very inviting space to entertain,” Carlene says.

“Homeowners appear to be placing more emphasis on their outdoor spaces than in decades past and allocating more of their budget to these areas.”

In saying this, what are some of the ways in which you can become hands-on and consequently watch your home’s value take a hike? – Michael and Carlene share their top renovation tips; starting off with the outside potential of a property.

Experiment with varying outdoors textures

The warm climate of balmy Queensland, where Michael and Carlene are based, has meant more buyers are turning to functional and welcoming backyards to support a lifestyle in the sun.  

“Outdoor spaces are really an extension of the interior, so making them inviting is key to how we live,” Michael says.

“You’ll see more confidently design spaces that incorporate a strong mix of elements, [such as] timber, lawn, concrete, stone, etcetera. I also think we’ll continue to see a greater range of outdoor furniture; fire pits, heating and lighting become available to us, which is exciting.”

However, the couple share that inadequate planning is one of the biggest mistakes that homeowners can make when approaching a backyard renovation.

As with the house it encircles, a yard requires a diligent consideration of design, Carlene says, also spotlighting how using different materials can help to “create dimension and interest” within the space.

“It doesn’t need to be expensive; it just needs to be thought out to include a successful mix of hard and soft materials, seating zones, cooking zones and play zones,” she says.

While heightened maintenance is something that a handful of homeowners find themselves avoiding, the couple don’t take a liking to “concrete jungles”, and they remind keen renovators that even concrete surfaces require the appropriate up-keep.

“Homeowners are certainly giving their yards more attention than ever before but still typically don’t allocate enough of their renovation budget to its cause,” Michael says. “Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions and the value that a well-maintained garden and yard will add to your home.”

Implement a “realistic budget”

No matter the breadth of lived-in experience that has been put away, every renovator has to start somewhere when wanting to turn an idea into a new, tangible asset to the interior or exterior of a home.

From magazine glossies, online pins, and taking inspiration from skilled reno-enthusiasts – there’s a plethora of visuals and support networks to help you gage whether your chosen design will have a profitable impact.

Michael says that research “will give you the tools to know what can be tackled with or without expert help and will also give you inspiration and ideas for what you’re looking to do”.

The renovator duo advise investors and homeowners to start by compiling costs and quotes, and they share that these can effectively be organised through spreadsheets.

“Try speaking to those who have renovated before for advice on budgets as well, and where they saved some cash during the process,” Carlene says.

But when reflecting on how outdoor spaces can be an “often-forgotten element”, Carlene says, “the front and backyard is key to an impactful design, and things like a fresh, lush lawn can significantly add to the value of a home”.

“Make sure you include budget to spruce it up when you’re creating your estimates,” she adds.

Recognise the value of a DIY approach

In addition to rolling out a healthy slice of turf, Michael says that painting and demolition “are just a few ways to save some money for renovators”.

“They also make a huge difference to the look and feel of a property at an affordable cost,” he says.

But to best perceive whether a renovation idea will suit a specific space or layout, the couple recommend spending some time getting to know the property.

“Through living in the space first, you’ll gain an understanding of how you can best maximise the home’s natural light and ventilation, and how you can achieve an easy flow from room to room,” Michael says.