Kitchen Renovations – Adding Huge Value

kitchenA kitchen is the centrepiece for the interior of most properties and one of the most critical areas to get right when you renovate. It’s also the room you’re most likely to over-capitalise on as you renovate your property.

When renovating for profit, it’s critical to get the balance between good looks, practicality and cost, spot on. If even one these is out of whack, then your kitchen is not serving its purpose to you, it’s owner. Either, it doesn’t value up as you would expect or it is impractical and not hardy enough for tenants or future occupiers or it’s simply too expensive – or worse a combination of these!

As always, my suggestion to you when considering your kitchen renovation is to plan, plan and then plan some more. If you have a target to reach then you are much more likely to hit it.

Firstly, consider your intended end result. Obviously you want to make the property look better – but what else? Increase equity in the property? Increase yield? Sell immediately? Hold for a while? These are all questions to consider while you ponder the outcome you want to achieve.

You’ll want to consider the location of the property and the expectation that tenants, purchasers and valuers have for that area (ie: would they expect a dishwasher in your type of property? Would they expect a new kitchen or would a renovated kitchen suffice? What other expectations does your target market have?). This market research is critical to think about when deciding what you will do to the kitchen and the property in general. Talk to local real estate agents and property managers if you don’t know the answers.

The next thing to work out is how much you want to spend on your kitchen reno. This will depend on the type of property, its location, its current value and also its projected post-renovation value. It’s important to get this figure in your mind before you decide what you are going to do to the kitchen. Start with your budget and then work back from there. What can you achieve with the amount of money you have?

As a general guideline, allow 1 – 1.5% of the property’s pre-reno value to spend on an IP kitchen. So a $400,000 property will give you between $4,000 and $6,000 (all up including cabinetry, walls, floor, lighting etc…) to spend – and this is ample if you do the things that smart professional renovators do. You may need to increase this a bit if the kitchen needs replacing entirely. On the contrary, you may be able to reduce this if the kitchen is generally pretty good but just requiring a few clever tweaks.

The suggestion to re-use the existing cabinetry came as a surprise to my client who had originally intended on removing it and buying a whole new kitchen. Instead, he created this new looking, fresher, brighter kitchen for just $4,000.

Sylvania Cres Kitchen1 - BEFORE Sylvania Cres Kitchen1 - AFTER

Renovating a kitchen

Renovating is such a cost saver if you have the right sort of kitchen in the first place. Working with what you have rather than discarding the kitchen and replacing it entirely can often be done with a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking.

The best type of kitchen to renovate is one where either the bench-top or the doors/drawer fronts/carcass do not need to be replaced. Replacing both these often leads to false economy so best to consider all pricing options if this is the case.

If you have a kitchen where the doors/drawers are worn, then consider replacing or resurfacing just these. Renovating these will of course depend on their material and condition – sometimes you’re just better off replacing. And if replacing, then consider the material, the dimensions (metric vs imperial?) and additional costs.

Bench-tops can create a whole new look to a kitchen without doing very much else. However they can be very expensive. Shop directly with a cabinet-maker so that you cut out the margins that retail stores add to their prices. Also consider the lesser known brands to save on costs. The well known brands (such as Formica) can be expensive and there are some just as suitable imported products (often from Asia) available as a substitute.

Whether you’re replacing or retaining the doors/drawers, spend some time on selecting a modern handle to complement to newly renovated kitchen. A straight bar style may cost you a little more, but these will more readily modernise your kitchen than a curved ‘bow’ style.

Splash-backs will normally need replacing – if not re-surfacing. There are professional tile re-surfacers out there – or if it’s a lower value property, consider a DIY application with specialty paint bought from a paint store. However for the cost of a new splash-back and the impact it will have on the kitchen, it’s usually worth spending the extra on a new splash-back that suits the new space perfectly.

Replacing a kitchen.

Replacing your kitchen involves a lot more than simply pulling out the cabinetry and replacing it. You’ll have flooring issues, wall issues, plumbing, electrical and goodness knows what else. If you have decided you need to replace the kitchen instead of renovating it, then be sure to factor in all of these costs (as well as a contingency for unexpected works!).

However, there are lots of ways to keep your costs down when you replace a kitchen. Firstly, you won’t be shopping at a retail store, will you? Professional renovators cut out the middle man and shop direct where the trade shops. Specialist kitchen stores are for ‘Mum and Dad’, owner/occupier renovators who are happy to pay a premium for the fact that they are buying from this store or that designer.

If you have a company set up, you can generally open a trade account at retail stores (like Bunnings, Mitre 10 etc…). Cabinet-makers and kitchen suppliers who generally deal only with builders will be more than happy to deal with you if you approach them. They will do everything a retail store will do (and more) because you are dealing with the people who are making the cabinetry etc.. for you – not just a sales-person.

When selecting materials and colours, stay as neutral as you can. Warm, neutral colours are inoffensive and generally liked by most people. Materials range from 2-pac to laminate to vinyl wrapped to timber. Your decision on which finish to select will be based on where the property is located, how much you are spending on your kitchen and who the target market are. For instance, a high value home that is being sold immediately might be treated to 2-pac doors. Whereas a mid value home for students would have nothing less than laminate doors and a high pressure laminate bench-top (like Laminex or Formica).

Go basic on the doors and drawer fronts to keep costs down and then spend a little extra on nice door handles and an eye-catching splash-back. The appliances you choose will also reflect your property in general – mid value property = mid-range appliances. Low value property = cheaper priced (but still good quality) appliances.

Further reduce your costs by keeping plumbed items (eg: sink, dishwasher) in the same place (or close to). Kitchen layouts are generally based on a triangle. That is; if you drew a line from the fridge to the sink to the stove you would be drawing a triangle and in between would be bench space. Keep this basic layout in mind if reconfiguring your kitchen.