Is it time to upgrade your home?

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

There are numerous reasons why homeowners decide to upgrade their homes, however, what has become apparent is that many put home maintenance and home improvements on hold during a recession.

The FNB Estate Agent Survey reports that there has been a significant rise in the number of homeowners who are investing in their properties with a view to adding value. The figures speak for themselves and it's been noted that although only three percent of total homeowners were estimated to be doing 'value-adding upgrades' in 2003, the percentage rose to 21 percent by the third quarter of this year. Although the figure is well below the 43 percent achieved in 2004, it is the highest estimated percentage since 2008.

The agent survey indicates that while 9.5 percent of those undertaking home improvements are speculating, the overwhelming majority of people do so for their own use while 14 percent undertake improvements simply because they can't afford to buy elsewhere.

Renovations that add value

So what exactly are 'value-adding upgrades' and is it a given that renovations will automatically add value to a property. Well, that depends on a number of factors including where the property is situated and how much the property cost originally.

Turning a home into a palace in a lower end suburb could be a recipe for disaster for those who are hoping to make a major profit on the sale of their homes. Likewise, anyone who bought shortly before the recession could find that they overpaid for the property and although the selling price may cover the cost of the initial purchase, they won't be able to recoup money spent on upgrading the home, particularly if the upgrades involve large sums of money.

Of course there are times when renovations do add value and the homeowner will recoup all of the associated costs of the improvements as well as making a tidy profit from the sale.

So which areas of the home should owners focus on?

Kitchens and bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are generally thought to be the most important rooms of the home and buyers have been known to overlook other aspects that they don't really like, if the property has nice cabinetry in the kitchen and good-looking bathroom fittings.


Flooring is often overlooked, however ripping up old carpet and replacing it with a more modern design or changing the look completely by tiling the floors or replacing these with wooden laminate will not only be more pleasant to live with, it could have an impact when it comes time to sell.

Light fittings

Light fittings are another often forgotten area of the home and yet style gurus will generally tell you that these should be changed every ten years or so in order to continue to give the home a more modern feel.

Eco-friendly additions

Water is becoming scarce and the cost of electricity is becoming problematic for a growing number of South Africans. Eco-friendly additions to the home won't only appeal to buyers when you decide to sell, they will save you a packet in the process. Solar geysers and other energy saving devices are always worth the investment and anyone considering making this sort of investment in their home needs to consider the amount of money that will be saved once the initial cash outlay has been recouped.

Regardless of how you decide improve your home - try and stick to a budget. If you're on a strict budget, try scouring magazines and the internet for cheaper ways to beautify your property. Even if money isn't an object, try to have a clear idea of what you want before you start and stick within those parameters.

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