How To Renovate For Maximum Return

July 21, 2014
How To Renovate For Maximum Return

Cherie Barber completed her first renovation at the age of 21.

By her early 30s and with a further two renovations under her belt, Cherie’s renovating Midas touch prompted her to throw in the towel on her marketing career, and take up the mantle of full time professional renovator.

Some 43 renovations later, the establishment of her successful business Renovating for Profit, and countless media appearances, it is little wonder Cherie has been dubbed Australia’s Renovating Queen.

We caught up with renovating royalty to find out what you need to consider when it comes to renovating with resale in mind.

Cherie Barber Renovating For Profit

Cherie Barber, Australia's Renovating Queen!

Check for Asbestos

The golden rule before any and all renovations is to conduct an Asbestos Identification Survey before you touch a renovating project.

I am a National Brand Ambassador for Asbestos Awareness and although this advice won’t contribute to your renovation’s resale, it will contribute to you and your family’s safety and wellbeing.

No renovation is worth a life, and at approximately $500 a report, it’s a small price to pay in context.

Asbestos Removal in Progress

Always seek professional advice on asbestos removal

Knowledge is Profit

Have an intimate and detailed understanding of your home’s suburb and its requirements.

Know the type of people living in it, how they tick, what they expect or demand from their lifestyle.

Think of your renovation as a product that meets the need of the market and customer.

By taking this approach you also remove a lot of emotion that can come with a property.

Remember – you are renovating for the end buyer, not for yourself.

Realise your skill levels

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will save money by doing everything yourself.

There are certain jobs – such as electricals and plumbing – that simply must be handed over to a professional.

But even jobs like bathroom tiling call for a tradesperson – a two-hour course on the subject really isn’t going to make you an expert tiler, and a subpar tiling job wont last a long time and can compromise the resale value.

SEE ALSO: Shop for your renovation Tiles

Laying Ceramic Floor Tiles

It's important to know your skill level prior to beginning your renovation

The 10% Rule

Your cosmetic renovation budget is ten percent of your propertys current value. Ten.

This is the first mistake so many people make when renovating any property for resale.

Whatever you paid for the home, allocate ten percent to its renovation costs.

So if you purchased a house for $450,000, you have a $45,000 cosmetic renovation budget.

If making a profit from your reno is paramount, then never over-capitalise.

Every amount you go over will compromise your final returns when the property sells.

Within that ten percent you then have formulae based on each room, which Renovating For Profit details in our workshops, but needless to say some rooms – such as the bathroom and kitchen – will receive a more generous slice of the ten percent pie.

Cosmetic or Structural Renovations?

Does your home need a structural or a cosmetic renovation?

The answer lies in its location.

There is a general rule of thumb that homes lying in the inner city ring (3-10km from the CBD) and metro ring (10km – 20km from the CBD) are largely post war constructions and therefore normally require structural renovations.

Properties in the outer metro ring (25km – 75km from the CBD) and regional ring (75km+ from a CBD) tend to call on cosmetic renos only.

SHOP NOW: Shop for all your renovation products

The Big Ticket Reno Jobs for Turning a Profit


  • Painting. For every dollar you spend on painting, you’ll receive $10 in return

  • Focus on the kitchen. In an ideal world every kitchen would be treated to a total renovation. But we have to keep going back to the ten percent rule so if you’re budget doesn’t allow for this, consider easy solutions such as laminate, paint, self-adhesive vinyl floor planks, cabinetry hardware etc

  • Rip up those floor coverings. Especially if your home is a fairly old structure – there’s a good chance you have some delightful floor boards underneath crusty carpet! Also, carpet tends to make a space look smaller so if your home is a little on the intimate size, then floorboards will help add the illusion of space. And space helps sell property!

  • Get rid of nana’s lace curtains. Vertical blinds are also a crime against good taste – change window furnishings to give your home an instant and easy face-lift

  • Update the lighting. A lot of old properties in particular often have just one light in the centre a ceiling, and it’s usually an oyster light. Rip them out and install downlights to better illuminate a room and make the space seem lighter

  • Add aircon. Ducted or split air-conditioning is a big value add from a valuer’s perspective

  • Add wardrobes to bedrooms. Remember your ten percent rule – these don’t have to be built-in robes, they can be free-standing


  • Add a garage or carport, but only if most other houses in your street and suburb have one. Be mindful of making changes to your property that are relevant to the suburb and the expectations of the people living in it

  • Add a drive way – this gives your property definition

  • Never underestimate the impact of cement render. This can add significant value to a property

  • Add bulk and scale to the front of a house – do this by ‘lifting’ features. So for example, raise garden beds, add architraves around windows and door frames

  • Improve gardens. The great Aussie dream is that big back yard but the reality is this is getting harder and harder to achieve. Turf is terrific and highly valued especially for the inner city, so lay turf rather than pebbles, and add shots of green through fresh, healthy plants

You can find out more about Renovating For Profit and free workshops, by visiting here

READ NOW: Before You Start Renovating