There are nine golden rules for home renovators that it’s worth knowing before you get carried away with improvements. If you’re thinking about selling your home, or even if you’re not, you’ll want to add value with any changes that you make.

Watch your budget

The first rule when it comes to home improvements is to never overcapitalise. Any money you spend on renovations will reduce your equity, so be sure that you aren’t adding a kitchen more appropriate to a million-dollar mansion than a two-bedroom townhouse.

It’s easy to get carried away in the moment with Italian tiles and rose-gold tapware, but often you can create the same effect with much less money. Look on Pinterest or through home magazines for some clever design ideas that won’t blow the budget.

Keep changes sympathetic to the original

As a rule, it’s best to keep anything you do roughly in line with the home’s existing style. So if you’re adding an extension to a brick home, you’ll try and match the brickwork and roofing materials. The only exception is if you’re using an architect or building designer – they know the rules of design, so they also know how to break them.

Follow all council guidelines

While it may be tempting to skip the hassle of getting council approval, it can land you in hot water. Make sure all work you do on your home is legal, certified if necessary, and council approved. Buyers will ask to see records if you come to sell, and you don’t want to risk fines or having to take the work down.

Add natural light wherever possible, and keep what you have

If you can, add natural light to any work you do on your home. This will make your home more energy efficient and pleasant to be in.

Ensure that any changes you make don’t reduce the natural light you already have. For many buyers, dim interiors are a dealbreaker, and they won’t even consider a house that has poor natural light. Here again, an architect can advise you on achieving as much light as possible in your home.

Use professionals for your renovations

Yes, it’s tempting when you are planning some work to choose those tradies who are cheap and readily available. But if their work is of a poor standard, you’ll only have to get it redone.

This doesn’t mean going with the most expensive quote, but it does mean getting a few quotes, looking up reviews from former clients, and getting a clear picture of what you are being offered.

Check and maintain structure

Any work you do needs to be structurally sound, and shouldn’t affect your property’s existing structure. Again, this is where professional builders and architects will be well worth the money. The most successful home renovators know when to bring in outside help.

Focus on good-quality flooring and other fittings

‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ is a cliche for a good reason. If you can only afford the cheapest fittings, it may be worth waiting a little longer for your home improvements. Or compromise in other ways – for example by looking for second-hand furniture so you can afford better-quality flooring or tiles. Replacing a dining table when you have a bit more cash is far easier than replacing cheap laminate flooring.

Connect to the outdoors wherever possible

Like natural light, a connection to the outdoors – even if it’s just a view – really adds to the appeal of a property. If there is some connection already, can you improve it, for example by adding a shaded alfresco seating area or French doors? And adding some plants is never a bad idea.

Keep it neutral

Avoid anything too eccentric when it comes to things you can’t easily change, such as external wall colours or bathroom tiles. Save your personal touches for details that can move with you, should you sell, such as artwork and furnishings.

Are you one of those keen home renovators? What are your tips for making the right changes?

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Tolga Ozer, Principal & LREA

Hyde Park’s most highly acclaimed property expert, achieving record-breaking outcomes for owners and investors. Having become the most sought-after agency for Sydney’s inner suburbs and CBD, my team and I take pride in our ability to deliver outstanding results.

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