Top 10 tips for renovating for resale

Renovating for resale is a tricky balancing act. Here are Barfoot & Thomson’s 10 top tips to help you get the biggest bang for your buck


Top 10 tips for renovating for resale

Everyone has an opinion on how to achieve the best result in terms of adding value to a home; after all, we Kiwis are fanatical renovators. Luckily we’ve got expert advice from Barfoot & Thompson on the top 10 projects to consider when you’re renovating for resale.

The main thing to remember is no matter which areas you decide to focus on, make sure your renovation budget is relative to the overall value of your house. If prices are modest in your neighbourhood, for instance, there’s no point in installing a new state-of-the-art kitchen or a fancy outdoor fireplace.

1 Consider your street appeal

‘Street appeal’ is a term much loved and there’s no doubt that the first, outside impression of a home can dramatically influence its saleability. Start by cutting back overgrown trees and replacing tired plants (including the lawn) to make the property look fresher, lighter and more spacious.

Or you could invest a little more money by resurfacing a cracked driveway, repaving and widening an old footpath, adding an off-street parking area or building a larger front porch. Does the front fence need repainting or replacing? Likewise the letterbox, front and garage doors? Even a new house number in a style that complements the architecture of the house can help revitalise the exterior of a home.


2 Renovate the kitchen 

The kitchen is the heart of a home for many of us and improving its appearance can seriously lift the value of your home. However, think carefully before replacing the whole thing as the next owners may want to put their stamp on the kitchen. It may be better to just give it a facelift by replacing the benchtop, handles, taps and splashback.

Throw in a few extras such as a water filter, built-in rubbish bins and statement pendant or industrial-style lighting. Contemporary kitchens often have cabinetry in two or three different colours so consider repainting existing units in colours which harmonise with each other.


3 Upgrade the bathroom

A second bathroom and toilet is almost compulsory these days so finding space for these is pretty much a given for savvy renovators. Adding a second toilet is the very least that most buyers expect. However, don’t feel you need to spend a fortune on expensive fittings – there are many products available for those with a limited budget.

Water-saving measures

such as installing eco-friendly taps, shower fittings and toilets will also impress

To upgrade existing bathrooms, rather than going all out with new fittings, you may only need to make minor changes such as buying a new vanity (or repurposing an existing piece of furniture for the job), cleaning grout, buying new door knobs and drawer handles, even replacing the toilet seat. Water-saving measures such as eco-friendly taps, shower fittings and toilets will also impress dollar-wise homebuyers.


4 Maximise storage

It’s a big priority for many homeowners so look for every possible nook or cranny that can be utilised for extra storage. In smaller homes this is an absolute must. Remember, shelves and cupboards don’t always need to take up floor space; is there space higher up for bookshelves or a set of cupboards?

5 Choose the right flooring

Flooring is one of the most dominant features in a house and most real estate pros will advise you to invest money on it. If new floors are beyond the budget, consider re-sanding and sealing existing timber floors and having carpets professionally cleaned. There’s no point in keeping old vinyl and linoleum unless it looks good and is in tip-top condition. If there’s only particle board underfoot and you can’t afford new flooring, paint it and cover with attractive rugs.

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6 Don’t forget outside

Connecting interior living spaces to the garden with a spacious deck or terrace will always add value to a house. Building an overhead structure to provide protection from the sun and rain makes it even more desirable. Built-in seating that can double as storage is great, and attractive screens to provide privacy from neighbours, block wind and hide service areas (bins, washing line) are also highly desirable. Forget top-of-the-range landscape accessories such as spas, complex water features, outdoor fireplaces and pizza ovens, as these are a matter of personal taste and probably not worth the investment for resale purposes.

7 Home maintenance

A flash kitchen won’t distract people from spotting rusty gutters, leaky windows or a dripping tap. Houses which show evidence of regular maintenance are the most saleable. You may not notice that ding in the wall but potential buyers will, and it may make them wonder what else is wrong with the house. Small repairs often don’t cost the earth but oiling doors and windows or replacing a missing tile can make a big difference.

8 Create space

Spacious homes are always in demand and sometimes the removal of just one non-structural wall can be all it takes to create a more open feel, particularly in smaller houses and apartments. But check with a builder on the cost first as load-bearing walls are not cheap to move and you’ll probably need a building consent.

If there’s plenty of storage space in the kitchen consider taking out an island unit to better connect the room to other living spaces, or replace it with a moveable island. And if you’re keen to add another bedroom, look carefully at existing parts of the house (for instance, another bedroom, wardrobes, hot water cupboard, the laundry or hallway) to see if it’s possible to steal some space from these without moving structural walls. It might be possible to make use of a corner or alcove in the living areas or kitchen for a home office or study nook, too.


9 Choose the right lighting

Light has a huge effect on the attractiveness of a home. Although expensive, adding windows and skylights is a good investment if your home is dark. Likewise if there are good views, it may be worth the cost of moving a window to maximise those views.

Although expensive

adding windows and skylights is a good investment if your home is dark

Instead of skylights, many homeowners are going for the cheaper option of tubular skylights which funnel natural light down from a hole in the roof. With artificial light, adding dimmers can enhance the mood of your house while statement lights in the living areas will instantly give it a contemporary feel. There are also plenty of low-cost LED options available to update your lighting.

10 Be energy wise

With energy costs rising, increasing a home’s energy efficiency rating will impress future buyers from both an economic and environmental viewpoint. Install insulation in walls, floors and ceilings (subsidies are available; go to to find out more) and consider adding a heat pump. If you live in a noisy street or cold area, retrofitting windows with double glazing might be a good option.

For more advice on how to get your home ready for sale head to Barfoot & Thompson.

Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photos by:

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