December is a great time for most homeowners to undertake maintenance and improvement projects around the house. Here are some projects that add the most value to your home.
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make – and it’s a long-term one too considering that homeowners can only expect to realise returns on their residential property investment after five years or so in some areas.
Debbie Justus-Ferns, divisional manager of Renprop Residential Sales, points out that while the time it takes to realise value growth on a residential property and the kind of returns that can be achieved depends on a number of factors like market conditions that prevailed when buying versus selling, the area the property is located in and the size and type of the property, homeowners can increase their return on investment through keeping a well-maintained home. “It makes sense then for homeowners to continually maintain and improve their property in order to protect their investment and add as much as possible to its value,” she says. However she cautions homeowners to be careful of over capitalising on improvements, which is when more money is spent on renovations and improvements than can be added to the selling price.
While home maintenance should be kept up year round based on what needs to be attended to during the different seasons, December is a great time for most homeowners to undertake maintenance and improvement projects around the house. “No matter whether they are going away on holiday or not, December is usually a time when people start slowing down at work and therefore have more free time on their hands to attend to these kinds of projects – especially the bigger ones,” says Justus-Ferns.
She provides the top 10 projects that homeowners should look at tackling this year end:
1. Put on some paint
A fresh coat of paint, whether inside or out, can give your home an entirely new and fresh look. Changing up the colour can give a room a complete facelift, but Justus-Ferns suggests sticking to neutral colours, especially for the exterior, in order to avoid limiting the appeal to potential buyers
2. Glam up the garden
Whether it’s planting new flowers, shrubs or trees, putting in some edging or a water feature or just generally giving the garden a good tidy up and treatment, a flourishing green garden always holds appeal – for the homeowner while they live in the home and for prospective buyers when they sell it. A manicured garden is always a win for a potential buyer.
Justus-Ferns suggests that homeowners shouldn’t only pay attention to the foliage, but also remove any rubble and fix up unsightly things, like washing lines in bad repair, even if they are in the back garden or yard.
3. De-clutter and spring clean
Spring may have sprung already, but most people don’t have the time to give their home a really good clean during the year. “Enlist your family to help move heavy items or take ownership of certain spaces to clean and clear out clutter,” suggests Justus-Ferns. “This is a great opportunity for a deep clean - carpets and mattresses and couches can all be steam cleaned, while drawers and cupboards and shelves are de-cluttered. Any unwanted items can be donated to charity,” she says. “Aside from making a move in the future easier, a de-cluttered, tidy home always leaves a better impression on a buyer.”
4. Tidy the tool shed, garage and/or Wendy house
These areas of the home tend to be a collection place for unwanted, unused or forgotten appliances and possessions. “December is a great time to clean out the garage, tool shed or Wendy house, throw away or donate any unwanted items and organise storage space for the items you do want to keep.” Justus-Ferns says that any rundown or broken tool sheds or Wendy houses should either be repaired or removed.
5. Get to the gate repairs and maintenance
Whether it’s your motorised gate at the entrance of your property, or the security gates on your doors, they will need maintaining. “It may be some oil that is required on the hinges or rails, some more serious fixing or maintenance or just a fresh coat of paint - either way this is an ideal project for the December holidays,” says Justus-Ferns who notes that this task should also include checking that the intercom is working properly.
6. Shape up your security
Aside from the fact that December is one of the most critical times of the year to pay attention to your home’s security, it’s also an ideal time to undertake a security audit of your property. Justus-Ferns says that homeowners should assess what security measures they have in place, check that they are all in working order, repair what’s necessary, and determine what additional security measures, if any, are required.
“Security is one of the top factors that influence home buying decisions in South Africa,” she says, “so homeowners would be wise to pay careful attention to the security aspects of their home – for their own safety and peace of mind as well as to add to buyer appeal when it comes time to sell.”
7. Perfect your paving
Driveway and patio or garden paving needs an annual check. Broken or missing bricks or pavers should be replaced and weeds and moss growing on or in between the paving should be removed. A good, thorough wash down will also have the paving looking in top condition.
8. Sort out the swimming pool, pond and/or bird bath
Ponds need regular cleaning and maintenance, bird baths are almost always never cleaned out and more intensive swimming pool clean ups and maintenance, like changing the sand in the filter, are great projects to tackle over the December holidays.
9. Do up the domestic quarters
The domestic quarters are an area of the home that seldom get attention when it comes to maintenance and repair projects. “Take the opportunity while your domestic worker is away at home for the holidays this December to undertake any necessary repairs and perhaps freshen up the area with paint, new flooring or some new finishes like curtain rails or blinds,” suggests Justus-Ferns.
10. Create curb appeal
First impressions do count! Curb appeal is an important aspect to pay attention to when one wants to attract buyers to a property, however Justus-Ferns says that even if homeowners are not thinking about selling immediately, having an attractive verge adds to the overall look and feel of the home. “As a starting point homeowners should attend to the grass or garden beds on their pavement areas, as well as check that the street numbering is clearly visible. This is also good from a security point of view.”
There are many different projects that homeowners could undertake these holidays, depending on what their home maintenance and improvement requirements are. “From cleaning drains and gutters to fixing plumbing leaks and irrigation systems, there is always ample work to be done in and around a home. While December holidays may be all about relaxing and spending time with family, friends and loved ones, these home maintenance tasks will help to secure your financial future by protecting and improving the value of your asset,” Justus-Ferns concludes.