As a property investor, you can more effectively renovate your bathroom for profit by aiming for an even balance of the following 3 main factors:
- Good Looks
- Practicality of fixtures and surfaces
Depending on your property, the emphasis on each of these components will vary. For instance, if you’re renovating a lower value property and planning to rent it out to students or young families, you would give more emphasis to the practicality and less emphasis on good looks and cost. However, if it’s a higher value property that you are selling immediately your renovation is complete, then you might put more emphasis on good looks and cost but less emphasis on practicality.
Good looks: What is a suitable look for your bathroom? Where is the property located and who is your target market? (Note: if you don’t know who your target market is, then talk with a local real estate agent or property manager to establish this before you start your reno). Creating a 5 star bathroom in a 3 star property is a waste of time and money and will result in over-capitalising. On the contrary; if you’re renovating a higher value property, you need to make sure the bathroom ‘fits’ with the rest of the house. Not doing enough to the bathroom – spending less on it than it needs – will do more harm than good and may turn potential buyers or tenants off.
Re-using some of the existing components in your bathroom is a great way to keep your costs at bay. Of course this needs to be appropriate for the property too. If you can re-use some of your components, make sure they are neutral in colour and in style first – do not of course re-use a pink bath or wall tiles with sail boats printed on them. White fixtures are great for this. Figure out which parts of the bathroom you are going to re-use (Bath? Flooring? Shower screens?) and then work your renovation choices around these.
Whether you’re renovating or stripping out your existing bathroom and starting again, go for warm, clean, neutral colours and a style that will appeal to 95% of the population. Shiny surfaces are great but be wary of impractical finishes that will be difficult to keep looking good (eg: polished chrome handles, dark coloured gloss laminates). Also try to steer clear of trends that may date (like how blue and yellow did in the 90’s and pink and grey did in the 80’s). Neutrals may become unpopular one day in the future perhaps, but I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about white and beige bathroom.
A note on using white: You might be tempted (as many people are) to select all white surfaces in your bathroom (ie wall and ceiling paint colour, wall panelling or tiles, flooring and fixtures. My belief is that white is very stark and sterile and totally unoriginal and that if you have the opportunity to choose the colours you use for your bathroom, why not add a bit of depth and interest by introducing one or two other light, neutral monochromatic colours? Always use white fixtures – in fact I don’t think you can even buy coloured fixtures (baths etc…) anymore. Thank goodness for that.
Practicality of fixtures and surfaces: The practicality factor of your renovation is mainly a reflection of who your target market is and there are two questions to ask yourself here.
- What does your target market find practical in terms of usage?
- Does the bathroom need to be super-hard wearing or not so much?
What does your target market find practical in terms of usage?
For example, you know that an older person my find it more difficult to get in and out of a low bath, so if your target market are retirees, then you would make sure there was a shower and if there was a bath, it would be raised slightly.
Or, if your target market were young families, then the bathroom would have lots of storage (usually in the vanity), extra towel rails and most definitely a bath. If space were tight, then you might even consider a shower over bath set up.
Professional couples or couples with a grown up family may not need a bath, but place more value on a double vanity, a double shower set-up (depending on the property) and just generally a more spacious bathroom.
You get the idea – think about what the people do and how they live to help you create the ideal bathroom for them. It’s these little things that will elevate your property above the rest. Yes the property needs to look the part (particularly for a valuer) but when it comes to selling or renting, the practicality of the bathroom is almost as important.
Does the bathroom need to be super-hard wearing or not so much?
Think about what you’re ultimately going to do to the property. If you’re holding onto it long term, then hardy surfaces and top quality (though not necessarily expensive) fixtures and finishes are a must. However, if you’re planning to sell then you can reduce your costs by using lesser quality components – still good quality but just keep in mind that it doesn’t need to last you 10 years or more.
For properties you’re planning to hang on to (and especially for properties you’ll rent to young families or students), go for very hard wearing surfaces such as tiles, stones/reconstituted stones and laminates with a 2-3mm thick PVC edge and solid joins. Fixtures (such as toilets, taps, appliances etc…) should also be good quality and preferably come with a good product and installation guarantee.
If selling your property soon, then you can afford to use slightly less sturdy finishes and fixtures. Instead of the more expensive options, go for imported (from Asia etc.) taps, tiles, lighting and other fixtures.
Whether selling or holding your property, ask yourself:
- Is it easy to maintain?
- Will it last the length of time I plan to own the property?
Cost: Determine your budget based on the bathrooms’ current condition, its anticipated new ‘look’ and of course your overall renovation budget (for your property as a whole). Spend too little and it can do more harm than good, spend too much and you will over-capitalise. If you have decided to re-use some of the components then as a natural result of that, your costs will be lower. However sometimes this is just not appropriate and stripping the bathroom and starting from scratch the best option.
Depending on the property, look at spending between .5% (low-end properties) and 1.5% (higher value properties) of the pre-reno value and then allocate your money according to how immediately obvious each component is. For instance, if the vanity is the first thing you see when you come through the door, then spend more money on a nice vanity, splash-back and mirror. If the first thing you see is the shower, then spend money getting this looking good. The next most obvious areas might be the floor, then the walls and then the towel rails and this is the order in which you would allocate your bathroom renovation budget.
This is an excellent way to prioritise how you spend your money when renovating – not only in the bathroom, but through the entire property.
Lastly, I recommend you PLAN your bathroom renovation before you start anything. If you know precisely what you are going to do and how much it is going to cost then you are much more likely to achieve that critical balance between cost, practicality and good looks – and get a renovation result that will genuinely make you a profit.