One of the great aspects of owning your home is that you’re free to renovate it as you please. You don’t need to spend a fortune to improve your lifestyle – and your home’s value.

With the pandemic pulling the plug on international travel, Australians are spending more time at home. That’s seeing renovation activity surge as we prime, paint and hammer our homes into perfect shape.

The catch is that home improvements can be expensive. The latest renovation report from Houzz shows the median renovation spend is $20,000.

However, real estate agents will also tell you that even small renovations can pack a punch, improving a home owner’s lifestyle – and the value of their property. It’s all about knowing where to focus your spending when the budget is tight.

Here are five ideas to get the ball rolling.

  1. Give kitchen cabinets a facelift

 The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms to renovate, according to Houzz. But it can also be a space that soaks up serious cash.

The latest Archicentre Cost Guide puts the cost of a full-scale kitchen revamp at anywhere between $15,000 and $43,000. But you can create the ‘wow’ factor with much less.

A new tiled splashback is a low-cost way to give an old kitchen a new lease of life. Or invest in new cupboard doors and handles. It’s a lot cheaper than installing new cabinetry, but the result can be an amazing facelift.

What will it cost me?
Expect to pay upwards of $25 per cupboard door through large retailers like Ikea.


  1. Add tile style to the bathroom

Bathrooms can also be a money pit, with improvements potentially costing $12,000 to $27,000. And a full-scale renovation isn’t just costly, it can also be a major hassle.

When it comes down to it we can all survive kitchen renovations by relying on takeaway or barbecues! But going without a bathroom for several weeks is a lot more challenging. This explains why quality bathroom renovations tend to deliver plenty of bang for their buck – it lets buyers avoid the inconvenience of renovations.

If your budget is lean, you may want to start with easy projects like installing a new vanity unit. Or, if bathroom tiles are in good condition, think about painting rather than replacing them.

 What will it cost me?
While you’re adding tile style, look at specialist paints that can transform bathroom flooring. Laying new tiles can cost about $120 per square metre. Or, you could pay a total of $120 for a litre each of primer and tile paint, which should cover around 12 square metres.


  1. Show your flooring some love

Flooring is always an important home feature. It has a huge visual impact and can immediately set the tone of a room.

If your flooring is looking a little worse for wear, or if different rooms have mismatched floor covers, it could be time for an upgrade.

What will it cost me?

Natural timber is known for its warmth and durability, but ripping up carpets and polishing floorboards can cost up to $110 per square metre. There is an affordable alternative. Floating floors are generally an easy and popular way to create an easy-care timber-look floor on a budget.

At Bunnings for example, laminate floating floors start in price from about $10 per square metre (allow extra for underlay), and can often be installed in a weekend by a home handyperson. Hiring a few tools like a jigsaw will make the job a lot easier.


  1. Create a “cloffice”

Up to one in two Australians have been working from home during the pandemic, and three in four of these workers believe this is likely to continue post-COVID .

That’s making a dedicated home office hot property right now. And it doesn’t have to mean giving up a spare bedroom.

We’ve all seen the “cloffice” trend take off, where a built-in closet is transformed into an office space. It’s a clever idea that can add value because once work is done for the day, you just close the closet doors, and work is out of sight.

Check out the different spaces in your home where a closet or alcove can be transformed into a study nook or micro-office. Add a desk and chair, shelving and lighting, and your office comes to life, leaving the rest of your home a work-free zone – good for you, great for your home’s value.


  1. Nurture a vegie patch

The pandemic is shaping the way we use outdoor areas. The 2021 Plant Trend Report,notes that 90% of Australians are now growing their own produce – either in the backyard, a courtyard or on apartment balconies.

In fact, Google searches for ‘How to grow vegetables’ hit an all-time worldwide high in 2020.

It makes setting up a vegie patch a smart project that can provide healthy eating at very low cost while potentially giving your place an uptick in buyer appeal and market value.


Golden rules to bear in mind

Before you kick-start a reno project, give some thought to whether it’s likely to add to your property’s value.

Renovating to sell if often viewed as a different proposition to renovating for lifestyle. But you never know when you may decide to sell in the future, so it’s worth aiming for projects that have broad appeal.

If you’re renovating to sell, an important step is to have a real estate agent appraise your property as is, and then guide you on a possible valuation post renovation. They can also guide you on what local buyers are looking for, so you can target your renovation to create market appeal.

Doing all or part of the renovations yourself can cut costs. Just be careful you don’t aim too high with DIY.

Always aim for a professional finish. A poor-quality renovation can detract from your home’s value. Only tackle projects that match your skills – it can really blow the budget if you have to call in the tradies to fix any mistakes or complete the job to a high standard.

Financing your home renovation

An important step in renovations is to manage your finances. On too many occasions people start renovations using their cash reserves, and then approach their bank for finance mid-way through. Generally, lenders don’t like being asked to assist with renovations that are half complete – and they may have strict criteria you haven’t thought of.

Our lending specialists use a convenient fact find process to assist you with renovation finance. Our key steps include:

  • A full review of your financial position and budget
  • Current market value assessment of your home
  • A free guidance report for a possible value port renovation (from a real estate professional)
  • Finance pre-approval
  • Guidance through the loan approval and drawdown of your renovation loan


If you would like a no obligation chat on renovation financing, our lending specialists are available 7 days a week either in person, or via phone or web chat.

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This article is prepared based on general information. It does not take into account individual financial objectives or needs and is not financial product advice.