1, Off-street parking
If there is room to park a car in front of your home, it’s worth going through the planning hoops to get it as it could add “10 – 15 per cent to the value of the property”, says Lisney director John O’Sullivan. The lack of designated parking can be a turn-off for would-be buyers. The planning application takes about three months to process, that’s if there are no objections raised by neighbours. Your builder will need to lay a hardcore base and finish it to your choice – gravel, tarmac, brickwork. Whichever you choose it’s an expensive job – parking for two cars, with “dishing” of the footpath, can cost upwards of €10,000 with appropriate landscaping, but it adds an instant premium.
“Off-street parking is a huge draw,” says Paul Aherne of Hunters Estate agency, “and not having it is a drawback when you come to sell. If you are planning to rent out the house, it will make it far more desirable. A corporate client, for instance, will not want to park on the street.”
2, Kitchen refit
For most of us, the kitchen is the single most important room in the house and it’s also the room that potential buyers will zone in on of it’s not right. It’s also one of the easiest rooms to fix and you don’t have to spend a fortune. If the existing kitchen units are perfectly fine, just not to your taste. you can get a complete new look at a relatively low cost by painting the cabinets, replacing the worktops and adding new handles to cabinets and drawers, while new tiling will also give an instant update.A complete new kitchen is an expensive outlay, but if it’s unavoidable, then consider picking an off-the-peg kitchen from a big supplier and using any extra funds to invest in top quality surfaces and lighting.
3, New bathroom
After the kitchen, the bathroom is the next most important room to tackle when it comes to adding value. Or bathrooms. Is there space to add another shower room? Look at understairs space or other pockets that could be converted to a wet room or guest loo. It has got to the point, one agent says, where a house with four bedrooms should have a minimum of two bathrooms. Shower rooms can be added by taking a slice from each bedroom where they adjoin to create one for each bedroom or a large central bathroom with access from both rooms. It is worth it when your kids are teenagers or for selling on. Make sure to replace and reproduce any coving or ceiling details once the job has been done so that the new rooms blend in seamlessly.
When it comes to fittings, keep it simple, especially if you plan to sell on, says Rebecca Roe of Hedgeroe Interiors. "Do not spend a lot of money remodelling the bathroom as the return of this is typically 50 per cent of your spend. So stick to a budget, keep to white and add big fluffy white towels."
4, Create some space
Knock through non-structural walls to open up areas such as small dining rooms that can be incorporated into a hallway or kitchen to make a brighter, more welcoming space where it is easier to circulate. Just make sure that if you are knocking through and installing an RSJ (rolled steel joist) for support, you need to get a certificate of compliance, says Rosie Mulvany of Sherry FitzGerald. "It's work that can be done relatively inexpensively, but the cert will crop up later if you go to sell."
5, Make room for a guest
So-called income suites have replaced granny flats as selling points. Many people are now taking in Airbnb guests, students or tenants under the rent-a-room scheme – whereby home owners can up earn to €14,000 a year tax free by letting out a room – so a separate bedroom suite, while it won’t necessarily add value to a home, could make it more attractive to a buyer and pay for itself in the meantime.
6, Make your home more energy efficient – and add a stove
This is an investment that no one will particularly notice, although everyone will appreciate lack of draughts and the reasonable bills. Good insulation, new windows, an insulated attic – this is work that you can’t see, but it’s worth doing because prospective buyers are asking more and more about energy efficiency, says Rosie Mulvany of Sherry FitzGerald. External insulation is becoming more popular because it is less disruptive and also because it can transform the exterior of a house. Likewise, new windows will now only cut down on your fuel bills but they will also change the look of your home completely.
"Househunters are beginning to see stoves as very desirable," says independent auctioneer Janet Carroll who is based in Blackrock. "They like the look of them – they have that 'hygge' appeal and they can be very energy efficient. ''
7, Rework your hallway
Must hallways aren't that large but they make a big impact on visitors and would-be buyers. "The first 10 seconds are the most important when it comes to showing people a home," says Brian Dempsey of DNG. "You will see a viewer's eyes going all over a hall and they're immediately wondering if they can live in this house. So any improvements you make in the hall are worth it. Hall and stairs carpet and freshly painted walls can create an instantly appealing effect." If there is space, Dempsey adds, "consider putting in a downstairs loo under the stairs".
If your front door is old, repair and repaint, says Rebecca Roe of Hedgeroe Interiors. “The front door should be pristine with polished ironmongery.” Finally, hallways can be dark, so if you have a little cash to spare, consider installing a Velux roof light on an upper floor that will throw light down to the entrance.
8, Give timber a new look
Natural wood finishes were extremely popular 20 and 30 years ago and if you’ve moved to a home with a lot of timber finishes, consider painting it all – doors, ceiling beams, staircases, kitchen units, the lot. One agent cites the case of a large attic room with dark stained beams that “depressed rather than impressed buyers”. She advised painting the entire space white and the house sold within weeks for over the asking price.
9, Cut back and prune
Trees, hedging and shrubs can enclose a garden in no time, making it appear smaller than it is and cutting out light. Popular shrubs like escallonia or forsythia can grown to a depth of 2-4 metres, according to gardening columnist Fionnuala Fallon. Uprooting them will give you a lot more space, and light. To bring more light into the garden, if you plan is to sell, remove them entirely and you have an instantly bigger garden. Alternatively, Fallon says, there is "skirtlifting". "It's where you remove the lower stems of a shrub to create an umbrella-like quality. You won't lose privacy but you will gain space."
10, Finally, keep up with small repairs
Don’t let them become bigger problems at a later date. Leaks should be fixed before they undermine ceilings or woodwork, for instance. “Surveyors are being asked for more and more detailed reports these days,” says Janet Carroll. “ I get people who want to sell their homes but they can’t face putting it on the market because they haven’t kept up with repairs.”
RENOVATIONS THAT WON’T ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME . . .
1, An overspecced, over-large bathroom
This will not add value to a home, particularly if it is taking up the space of an extra bedroom. It might look fantastic, but it could even devalue your home, says property consultant Isabel Morton. "There is something decadent and exciting about them, but at the end of the day you only spend so much time in the bathroom – and people are practical. Very few people want to wallow in a free-standing, roll-top bath with nowhere to balance a bar of soap."
Rebecca Roe of Hedgeroe Interiors agrees. “Do not spend a lot of money remodelling the bathroom as the return of this is typically 50 per cent of your spend. So stick to a budget, keep to white and add big fluffy white towels, it’s true, they do add value.”
2, Attic conversion
It’s something that people you can spend too much money on and not get enough use from, says Brian Dempsey of DNG. “So you really have to make sure that you are going to use that space if you are going to invest in it – and surveyors don’t tend to like them. They often find problems in them which can delay a sale.”
3, Hobby rooms
A home gym, movie room or meditation space are all good ideas if you’re in your forever home, but if your aspiration is to sell, be wary of tailoring a room to personal taste. The next person may not see the point of surround sound or floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall mirrors in what should really be just another bedroom. This extends to decor, too, says Janet Carroll. “We all love to look at a room with highly personalised decor such as dramatic colours or furnishings, but the houses that sell faster are far more bland,” she says. “People want to imagine themselves living there and they can’t do that if it’s too personalised.”
4, Everything open-plan
Not everyone loves open-plan. By knocking walls through most of your downstairs into one big area so your your home is one big space, you will lose privacy and potentially put off would-be buyers. A big open-plan kitchen is on a lot of buyer wishlists, but if you are planning to knock out and extend to create that big space with a sale in mind, make sure that you hive off some space for a utility room for laundry and storage.
5, A conservatory
It is a lovely place to be on a warm day and theoretically a great addition to a home, but they’re expensive to install and are often underused. A poorly planned conservatory can be too warm in summer, too cold in winter and can simply suffer from lack of purpose.
6, Ambitious landscaping
Yes, the landscape gardener left full instructions as to how to manage the green wall and how often to service the water features, but landscaping will not necessarily add value to your home. Elaborate plant schemes could intimidate potential purchasers who won’t want the expense of garden maintenance.