Newly-weds’ experience shows how simple, cost-effective renovations add value
BUYERS need to look beyond the obvious when viewing properties, says Seeff City Bowl consultant Bridget Shiffer.
“Don’t just see what is wrong with a house or an apartment, imagine what it could be if you invest a little time and money. Would a little work transform this into a dream home, or would a small investment ensure greater returns when you are ready to sell?”
She believes buyers need to visualise the potential of ordinary flats after something as simple as a fresh coat of paint, new handles on the cupboards, new floors and even lighting, has been done.
“A good example is a loft apartment in Sutton Place in Gardens that I recently sold to newly-weds.
“It was a very ordinary, but somewhat dark apartment. The only redeeming features were that the flat was conveniently located on the top floor of a well-maintained and popular block, had a pleasant leafy outlook and is within walking distance of the Gardens Centre.”
The buyers had been searching for a one-bedroom flat in the city for over a year and were hoping to find one for less than R850 000. At the end of last year, they put in an offer of R840 000 on the 45m Sutton Place loft, which was listed at R875 000, and their offer was accepted.
She said the buyers saw the potential in the flat. By doing some simple and cost-effective renovations, they created a clean, modern space that is ideal for them. And, their R60 000 makeover probably increased the value of their property by about R300 000.
“When we bought the flat, we knew there were some drawbacks. There was very lit- tle natural light, poor ventilation and, generally, the finishes were dreary, dated and dark.
“The mezzanine bedroom could barely accommodate a double bed and the bedroom and kitchen had too little cupboard space,” say the new owners.
Shiffer says the most important and effective alteration was the installation of skylights, which allowed the natural light to stream through and increased the feeling of space.
The second most effective change was the floor which was laid downstairs. It is a white screed, which creates a feeling of more light and space.
Other renovations included a kitchen makeover, extending the mezzanine to provide more space in the bedroom and allow for more cupboards, the removal of the carpet from the stairs and sanding and sealing the pine underneath.
For the new residents, the aim was to create a neutral and light space without spending too much. To achieve this, they chose cost-effective and neutral finishes.
“We saw that with some creative thinking and some paint, we would be able to consider- ably improve the interior of the flat, so as soon as we had approval from the body corporate and transfer had taken place, we got started.”
They extended the mezzanine, built a drywall to house new cupboards and installed a new ceiling over the kitchen area. They then added a new suspended pine floor and two loft windows.
“The skylights completely transformed the quality of light in the flat. They changed the flat from gloomy to gleaming. Painting the charcoal balustrades white, the walls neutral and installing the light-colour floor also added to the lightness and flow of the space. We did all the paintwork ourselves.”
T h e k i t ch e n m a ke ove r included new tiles and flooring and revamped cupboards. To save money, they kept the carcasses of the existing bottom kitchen cupboards and only added new doors and tops. The brushed steel handles are also mo r e mo d e r n t h a n t h e o l d mock-timber ones.
Shiffer cautions that buyers also need to beware of the risk of over-capitalising.
“Take into account the con- dition and location of the block, and the state of the rest of the flats in the block. Don’t renovate something into a magnificent flat in a scruffy block or a bad area, although this is unlikely in the city bowl as most of the blocks are in good shape.
“Make sure the price plus the cost of renovations and some profit are equal to the market-related value of the property – especially if you plan to sell right away.
“Sometimes, buyers need to wait a year or two so that the newly renovated property can grow into the higher price.”