Matching materials to your project

I spend a lot of time convincing investors to buy and install or use the appropriate materials in their properties (both traders and buy and hold investors). So, this month I’m going to share our company’s experience of over 200 renovations both for the resale market and the rental.

The first thing to decide is exactly what you are going to do with the property you are about to spend money on.  This is very important because what you do to the property will change if you are going to sell it or whether you intend to rent it out.  Once you have done that then you only need to decide how long you will keep the property for if renting it out (most buy and hold investors don’t sell for at least 10 years or they see their property as a retirement fund so it’s long term).

So we will look at your average 100 square metre home in a mid-range price bracket covering both of the above scenarios are by area.

Exterior
The cost and quality of paint varies and the old saying that you pay for what you get can be very true, however it is a certainty that the amount of preparation you (or your painter) carries out on your property will far out-weigh the cost of the paint which is usually 10% to 20% of the overall price of the project.

We always use Resene paints as a matter of quality and they offer a fantastic colour consultation process free of charge if you use their products.  If you’re smart you can buy paint in advance when they have their annual 30% off sale.

Always remember the quality of an exterior paint is what buyers and tenants see first and adds to street appeal so don’t skimp and always include the roof, fence and garage when you repaint if you can afford to.

Landscaping
The words over-capitalising come to mind here, as we see it so often.  For both scenarios you can create tidy, functional outdoor spaces for minimal spend where tenants and new home owners can add personal touches if they really want to.

Cheap plants such as grasses and simple paving stones and shells will give you that look for a fraction of the cost of a landscape contractor.  Buy some books, go on line and copy some ideas – it’s easy.

Kitchen
There is no doubt our company prefers well-made, mid-range quality kitchens such as Kitchen House for buy and hold properties and there are reasons for that.

Firstly, you get a 10-year warranty if they install them. They have standard colour ranges and they offer regular specials in store and the quality for your money is exceptional.  They will also be able to replace doors, hinges and other components in five years time or more, which means you don’t need to replace the kitchen for quite some time.

If you’re selling, then any kitset kitchen is fine and anyone can install them so long as it is in keeping with the value of the property.  Trade Me offers fantastic opportunities for second-hand kitchens if you have the skills to adapt them to your space.  Always remember, kitchens are very high on both buyers and tenants wish lists so don’t skimp in this area.

Bathroom
We always buy white fixtures and generally use vanities from places such as Bunnings where the price is good and the item can be changed if there is an issue.

If you buy imported products off a website (usually very cheap), it is unlikely that they will give you a warranty or will physically be able to do any repairs should you have issues with that product.

Always use good-quality taps and mixers, we love Methven for buy and holds, as you can always get parts and they are very reliable.  The cost of a plumber will outweigh cheaper items every time if they ever need to be changed.

If you are selling, just buy what looks good at the best price from any merchant or seconds trade outlet.

Remember, clean, white bathrooms with big mirrors sell and rent properties every time.

Interior Painting
This is one of the most important areas and where many people go wrong with products. Just like the exterior, it’s pretty much all in the preparation of the surfaces, so if you are going to do it yourself follow the paint manufactures guidelines (they know what is required for a good finish) and again, the value of the materials will only be 10% to 20% of the overall cost of the painting works.

The method is very simple; white ceilings, neutral colours throughout and we always paint the bathrooms white to make them look bigger.

If you are painting to hold, use Top 10 colour from your paint company’s colour chart so that you can touch up in a few years time or each time a tenant leaves and not have to repaint the whole space.

If you are selling make sure the agent is aware that you have used quality paints and they mention the cool modern colour scheme to prospective buyers as it will add value.

Floor Coverings
This is the area that if your property is a buy and hold that you need to get right or it is going to cost you again very soon, so I am going to provide some serious detail for you.

For several years now we have used products from Irvine International through their distributors.  Here are the reasons why on their carpets.

Firstly, their Super weave is four meters wide (most other carpet is 3.66 meters). Extra width most often means less joins and therefore less potential for wear and tear.

As the yarn is solution dyed (i.e. the colour is part of the molecular structure and therefore the whole way through the yarn, akin to a carrot) it is both UV fade resistant and stain resistant. Superior UV fade stabilisers used in the manufacture of the yarn means that it will neither fade nor change colour from exposure to direct sunlight, nor will it deteriorate.  (It carries five-year warranties against UV fade and deterioration.)

Both the yarn and the backing is solution dyed.  This means both the face fibre of the carpet and the backing are non-porous and therefore incapable of absorbing moisture.  Liquid accidents cannot penetrate the carpet, but rather sit on the surface making them easier to remove.

Bleach resistant – common household stains can be removed with a solution of 50/50 bleach and water without fear of also removing the colour from the carpet.  It is incredibly hard-wearing and stays looking good for years and years.  Both are dust-free and allergen-free.  The yarn is manufactured with no joins and therefore does not pill or shed.  The synthetic backing does not absorb moisture and therefore is not attractive to mould spores.  It is rot-proof, shrink-proof, odour-proof with excellent fire ratings and extra heavy duty residential rating.

Irvine’s also produce a Westminster carpet that feels more like wool for those pursists amongst you, with many of the same characteristics.

Most linos and vinyls are suitable for all applications and the old adages of you pay for what you get is applicable in regards to quality and thickness of products and in turn wearability.

A word of caution for buy and hold investors; don’t use off-cuts or end-of-run as when you need to replace a room this won’t be possible and you may end up with different carpet in several rooms that will eventually reduce the rental appeal and probably your rent.

If you’re selling, end-of-runs are fine but make sure it is in keeping with the value of your property and use an underlay that gives the carpet a feel of quality to your prospective buyers.

On a final note, we have talked a lot about the quality of materials and not so much about price, so for those who are renovating to sell concentrate on setting your budget and be realistic about it.

Materials will be a small but reasonable part of your overall expense but don’t get caught up in spending days sourcing materials that save you a few hundred dollars overall (work out the value of your time) and remember that your property will probably have to get past a valuer and a building inspection company in the current market, so shortcuts will have an effect on their reports and could also result in fallen sale or no sale.  We have seen this on many occasions in the last 18 months due mostly to inexperience.

Happy renovating.

Tip:
Always remember you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

Mark Trafford Director “Maintain To Profit”