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Adding Value to Your Home through Renovation

Adding Value To Your Home Through Renovation

Property renovation is not easy. It requires patience and hard work, but if done well the rewards are fantastic. We ask Isabelle Sterboul, Director of AIQ Global, a group that buys old properties in prime areas of KL, renovates them, and then sells or rents them, for some of her ideas on how to make sure your renovation adds value to your home.

Bounce off agents any ideas you have, particularly if you are renovating to sell. Don't be arrogant and assume you know it all - listen to them carefully. Agents, even ones with two or three years experience, know what you need to do to make a property sellable, as they are the ones selling them all day - they meet buyers very frequently and listen into their complaints and compliments. They are a valuable source of knowledge - and they'll always give advice for free.

Use an architect. Unless the changes that you wish to make are purely cosmetic (like painting, re-tiling, etc...) ensure that you use the services of a registered architect. The architect will make sure that your renovation complies with the governing by-laws and that you obtain all necessary approvals before work begins. Without the necessary approvals you risk having lots of problems later on, and it's not worth the headache. The local authorities may give you a stop order, you will get fined, and you may find it difficult to sell the property.

Make sure that your design allows for plenty of light into your house, and try to give the house an open feel. Large windows and open plan concepts will both add value to your house.

Apply for planning and building permission before you acquire the property. This will increase the return on your project by saving you interest costs and shorten your turn around period, or if you are buying for your own stay it will mean you can move in earlier which will save on interest costs.

Hire sub-contractors directly if you have time. By doing so you will save the costs of the middle-man - your main contractor. Typically a main contractor will mark-up any sub-contractor prices by around 10%. But if you don't have time this 10% is certainly worth it - hiring a tiler, an alarm specialist, a plumber, an electrician, negotiating with all of them, and then making sure their work is good is not easy - and having one person to complain about anything is a positive

Have written and signed agreements with your contractor(s). Not doing so is a recipe for disputes. State the time the work must be finished by and put penalties for late completion. If you don't put penalties explicitly in your contract, expect your work to be delayed.

Make progress payments in small increments as the work is being done. Avoid having a scenario where the contractor could be tempted to just run off with your money. Always make sure the contractor is incentivised to continue to work. However you must be reasonable too. Some work involves a significant cost upfront for the contractor. For example if you're buying items like custom made wardrobes clearly the contractor would be at risk if you paid him/her after the wardrobes were made - he/she would need a fairly large deposit for them to feel comfortable placing a big order.

Visit the property at least once a day. It means if you are not happy with something there's enough time to make amendments without a significant cost. It will also keep the workers on the ball.

Be fussy on the quality of the finish. If you do not complain about poor quality work, no-one else will. Go around the house constantly looking for anything to complain about. The more you complain, to a point, the more the contractors will ensure their work is of a high quality. Go around with a big red market pen pointing out any defects, and do not hesitate to use it.

Focus on the bathrooms and the kitchen. These areas determine, more than any other, whether a property feels modern. A great kitchen will often tempt the women, and they're usually the ones that make the decisions! Also, the master bedroom is important as this is the room where, typically, the purchaser of the house will sleep.

Take into account fung shui, even if you don't subscribe to it yourself. Others do, and that matters, particularly in Chinese areas.

Choose neutral colours and unless you are experienced do not be bold with your designs. If you keep it simple that is usually best. Any bold statements can come though the furniture, which can always be removed if they do not work well.