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Renovating a house: where to start

24 September 2020

Whether you're looking to improve the home you're currently living in or spruce up an investment property before selling it, when renovating a house you'll probably wonder what room to start with. If the plan is to do a full renovation, you may need to chip away at it (quite literally) over a number of years before all rooms have been refreshed. This is because it can be hard to afford it all at once, especially if you need to move out of the home while renovations are taking place.

So, what's the best room to start with?

There's no easy answer to this, as it will depend on your overall renovation goals. Instead of asking 'what room do I start with?', ask 'what do I want to achieve overall?'.

Here we explore some of your options, to help you decide where to start when renovating a house.

I want to add value to my home: renovate your kitchen

Most people will tell you to start with your kitchen, as this is thought to provide a good return on investment. The kitchen makes a lot of sense as the first place to improve, because:

  • It's a high-traffic area, so chances are your family will often be here preparing meals and spending time together.
  • This is also an area of the house that guests will often see (more so than your bathroom, for example). A shiny new bench top and stainless steel appliances can really make an impression.

The downside to renovating your kitchen? It can be expensive. Depending on the size of your kitchen, and how much work it needs, you may be looking at upwards of $10,000 for a basic refresh. Keep in mind, though, this could be worth it if you manage to make your money back by adding value to your home with a full kitchen renovation. While a kitchen renovation is not a guaranteed way to add value to your home, it's worth considering as a starting point. Talk with some renovation professionals to learn more about your options.

I want to attract buyers (but can’t spend a lot): renovate your front yard

For a cheaper and simpler option that will make your real estate agent jump for joy, why not focus on your home's external appearance? Updating your front yard doesn't have to be expensive. You could start with some simple improvements:

  • spruce up the garden
  • plant some shrubs and flowers
  • install a water feature
  • put in a fancy new letterbox
  • paint the front fence.

The front of your house is what potential buyers will see first when they come to inspect your property.  A fresh look can help give a great first impression.

I want to freshen up my house: renovate your bathroom

Together with the kitchen, the bathroom is always a popular room to renovate. Why? Because a sparkling, spacious, beautiful bathroom, as opposed to your current bathroom – you know, with its cracking paint, missing tiles, and pink 50s bathtub – could potentially help increase the value of your home.

A clean, fresh bathroom can update the feel of a house, making it seem newer. 

If you're tossing up between renovating your bathroom or another room, consider this: how much time do you actually spend in your bathroom? How important is it to you?

If you're the sort of person who has 90 second showers and flits out the door in the morning without pausing to look in the mirror, then maybe a bathroom renovation isn't your first priority. However, if you’re spending hours in your bathroom giving the kids baths or winding down with a long, hot bath yourself after a big day, then a bathroom renovation could be the best decision you ever made.

I want a simple fix for the whole house: apply a coat of paint

Maybe focusing on one room of your house isn't the place to start for you. Think about refreshing your home's overall appearance with a sparkling new paint job. This will make the whole house feel fresh and doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Fresh paint will cover cracks and stains, and you can even add some coloured feature walls to make certain rooms pop.

I want to make my house bigger: add an extension

Another option to consider when renovating is building onto your house. This can be especially useful if you're expecting a new member to the family, or if your house could do with more comfortable living space. Don't underestimate the power of an extra lounge room to make a house more functional.

Extending can be expensive, but it could also be a great way to add value to your house. By building onto your house you're adding to its overall size, which may make it more valuable when it comes to selling.

When renovating your home or investment property, think about what you want to achieve and what resources you have. If you're after a quick, cheap refresh to entice buyers, a paint job or a tidy up of the front yard might be enough. If you're after increased functionality and have the time and resources to put into a bathroom or kitchen renovation, that may be the way to go.

Whether you're carrying out large-scale or simple renovations, you may want to consider a construction loan or home equity financing. A Suncorp Bank home lending specialist can help you choose a way to finance your renovation project. All consultations are 100% obligation-free.

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Information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account any person's particular objectives, financial situation or needs. You should make your own enquiries, consider whether advice is appropriate for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or Product Information Document before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product.