Which home improvements add the most value to your home?

Private Property South Africa
Martin Hatchuel

Let’s face it: renovating or adding improvements to your home can be a bit of a chore. But if you plan the job carefully, you’ll score twice over: first while you live in (and enjoy) your new-look house, and then when you sell - and you reap the rewards in cold, hard cash.


As with everything in life, though, not all additions are equal: some may add to the value of your property, while some may actually detract from it - so it makes sense to ask for professional advice before you begin.

But who to ask?

Well, that depends. As a rule of thumb, check first with some of the estate agents in the area to get an idea of whether or not your improvements are likely to help your bottom line - and by how much. And then if you have to build anything - ask an architect or your local planning department.

“Although your house is yours, and you have the right to enjoy making certain improvements without asking permission - like changing the colour of the walls, say, or, replanting the garden - you’re nevertheless restricted in the law when it comes to making structural changes to the buildings, or adding things like swimming pools or high outside walls,” said Cape Town-based architectural technologist Jacque Cronje, of www.timberdesign.co.za. (See What building alterations require approval from your municipality? on PrivateProperty.co.za, 10 April, 2015.)

“It’s important to be aware that you can cause yourself a lot of trouble when you sell - and cost yourself a lot of money - if you fail to get planning permission before you begin. So in terms of return on investment, I’d say that the worst kind of improvements you can do are always the ones you do illegally,” said Jacques.


Where you spend your money is important, too, of course.

“If you’re looking to improve resale value, your first move should always be to spend on maintenance so that the house looks good from top to bottom,” said Angela Clack, an agent in the Knysna office of the Chas Everitt International Property Group.

“Making sure that things like roofs and windows are in tip-top condition - and repairing or even replacing them - will ensure that your property fetches the best price every time.

“Other projects that will often add to a house’s value include well designed, modern bathrooms and kitchens - but you’ll need to make absolutely sure that the job is professionally done!” she said.

Angela also spoke about the need for doing your research carefully before you begin with any major additions. Sometimes, you might be heading for overkill.

“The garden is an important part of the whole, and it’s a major contributor to that all-important first impression when buyers come to view - so, if the buildings already take up most of the space on the property, you need to ask yourself if your house’s value really will benefit from the addition of another room.”

Like Jacques, Angela said that her best advice is that you should talk to the people in the know. “Every house is different, and every project has its own merits and challenges,” she said.


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