Tips and Advice

Block NZ winners Alice and Caleb share their tips on renovating for resale

Every home is different and will have its own challenges to address. Here are 10 tasks and techniques that are likely to help you be more successful for resale on auction day.

Renovating a home can be a very rewarding experience. However, when you’re doing it quickly and selling the property on for profit, the whole equation changes. Rather than being about what you like and want, the reno is about managing every cent of your budget to maximise your profit.

1. Make a plan

One of our key pieces of advice for any project is: ‘Plan your work; work your plan’. By knowing what you are trying to achieve, you can understand what a successful outcome looks like for you and work towards that goal. Take time at the start of your project to think about this and write it down.

2. Have a budget

The budget is key when you are renovating to sell as you must aim to maximise your return for every dollar spent. When used as a tool, your budget will help you make decisions, stay on track, and ensure the best possible return on your investment. At the start of your project, itemise all expected costs, and track them as your renovation progresses.

3. Work with what you have

Not every change to the house will add more value than what you spend. You need to be aware of the cost vs. value-added equation when choosing which tasks to undertake. When you make structural changes that require lots of tradespeople and consents, costs quickly add up. Evaluate your house and look for clever ways to work with what you have.

4. First impressions

First impressions really do make a difference. If you can get this bit right, you’ll put prospective buyers in the right frame of mind when they arrive to view your property. Most homes are unique and rarely tick every box a buyer might have on their list. You won’t be able to please everyone, but the entry is a great place to create some positive associations. The street frontage, the approach to your front door, planting and the entryway itself are important areas to focus on.

Tip: Painting is one of the easiest ways to refresh a property – As well as walls, trims and ceilings, the effectiveness of paint can also extend to furniture. painting an old chest of drawers, chair or table can create an attractive accessory in your renovated home.

5. Paint & paper

Fresh paint can completely transform a property from drab and dated to fresh and modern. Refreshing the painted surfaces both inside and outside your property is perhaps the easiest and best-value task you can undertake to add value. An alternative to paint, and one we love, is wallpaper. Modern wallpapers are easy to install, and are generally quicker than paint. Whether for a feature wall or an entire room, wallpaper is just another useful trick to keep up your sleeve.

6. Outdoor living space

Having an outdoor living space is a valuable addition to any property and, when done well, it can feel like a whole extra room. If your property doesn’t have a defined outdoor living area, have a serious look at how you could add one. There are many options available, with decks and paved courtyards among the most common. Work with your existing area and its constraints to plan a space. Consider how the space will connect both to the house and to other external areas. Pay attention to the weather and think about adding shelter and protection from the elements. A pergola or awning might be worth the investment if it will help you create an outdoor space that could be used all year round.

7. Improve the flow

The default response to changing the layout of a house is to make it open plan, and there are sound reasons for that. We are drawn to living in connected environments that allow better living options and flow between spaces. But there is more to good flow than removing all the walls. If the layout in your house isn’t working, look at the easiest ways to make it more appealing. Consider ways you could make a room feel larger, improve connections between spaces and add focal points such as a fireplace.

8. Maintenance issues

A loose tap or flaking paint on its own might not put off a prospective buyer, but a list of maintenance projects or touch-ups may be enough to put someone off your property. Deal with the maintenance items and ‘small stuff’ so a new owner won’t have to worry about a to-do list when they first move in. This list is wide and property specific, but could include anything from a dripping hose tap to loose handles, doors catching in their frames, missing fence palings, rust, cracked windows, or gaps in window putty.

The exterior of your house is an area which typically yields a high return on your investment.

It’s also an area where you can put in a bit of ‘sweat equity’ and get some great results

9. Up to standard

The Healthy Homes Standards became law in July 2019, and were designed to improve the quality of rental properties. These are now well known to investors and landlords and, if you are not familiar with the standards, it’s a good idea to ensure your property meets them as it will make your home more attractive to investors. However, the standards also provide useful guidelines for what makes a home warmer and drier, and meeting the criteria will make your property more appealing for any prospective buyer. The standards cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draughts – you can read more at raisethestandard.nz.

10. Landscaping

The exterior of your house is an area that typically yields a high return on your investment. It’s also an area where you can put in a bit of ‘sweat equity’ and get some great results. Start by dealing with any overgrown trees, hedging and weeds. Or if you are lacking in vegetation, look for areas where you can add some colour or greenery through planting. Create areas within your property which are functional and useful, whether for play, dining, food production, or practical tasks such as car parking, bin storage or a potting shed.


Words by: Alice & Caleb Pearson, professional renovators. Photography by: Helen Bankers, bauersyndication.comau.

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