The kitchen is one of the areas that are often subjected to renovations by owners and buyers Image Credit: Shutterstock

Whether for personal taste or functional reasons, home renovations feature consistently on homeowners’ radars. However, many homeowners remain confused about renovation budgets, the right contractors, what renovations to undertake and why.

The first question to ask is, why are you renovating? The reasons fall under two broad categories: those looking to sell the house and those looking to enhance their living experience. The former is simply about increasing the value and saleability of a property with renovations that have more mass appeal.

“The majority of houses and villas that have been built several years ago, they have the same kitchen, the same bathrooms,” says Shane Curran, CEO of Interact Group, which specialises in interior design, home renovation and fit-outs. “By renovating you have your apartment or your villa standout from the rest of the crowd. And this reflects in the sale price of the house.”

For those who want to enhance their home experience, pride and personal touch are the key motivations. An interior designer is critical in such renovations, as the focus is on personal taste and style. “Renovation in this category is not based on an actual requirement to renovate,” says Curran. “It is usually born out of what people like and want.”

Some homebuyers also upgrade the property to their taste before moving in, adding elements that enhance property value.

In-demand renovations

Kitchen and bathrooms are the top areas for renovations across apartments and villas. “A lot of people are spending money on bathroom and kitchen renovations,” says Curran. “If you look at the kitchens that have been designed here a number of years ago, they are not in line with European-size kitchens, as they are built to a smaller standard. And because cooking has now become a trendy thing to do, people are showing off their kitchen and focusing more on it.”

For villas, it is common to see swimming pools being renovated as exteriors play a greater role in enhancing property value. “Swimming pools, gardens and landscaping are also popular renovation choices, along with fittings and fixture, and flooring change,” says Sofia Underabi, head of residential valuations at Cavendish Maxwell.

For apartments, Mouhanad Fadel, manager of residential sales and leasing at Better Homes, cites lighting and dust cleaning features as factors that have a major impact on valuation.

Property value

Experts believe renovations can add 10-15 per cent to the original sale price. “Every improvement eventually will add to the home value,” says Curran.

The key is in balancing the budget. Fadel says the cost of renovation should not exceed 10 per cent of the asset value, although in some cases it can reach up to 20 per cent. “It should be within a reasonable price range,” says Fadel. When spending more, he cautions “there’s a big chance it will not be valued accordingly in the market”.

Setting a budget

Getting a valuation helps set a budget and when renovating a home for sale, Underabi cautions against a more personalised approach, as the result could impact pricing and saleability negatively. “Don’t skew heavily on personal taste,” says Underabi. “For example, gold taps or extravagant ceiling upgrades cost more, are difficult to market and impact sales.”

However, spending a lot is not mandatory to increasing property value. By ensuring the home stands out from run-of-the-mill layouts and designs, one can upgrade even on a small budget.

So when renovating a villa or apartment, focus on evaluating your needs and reasons first, and then set a budget based on current property valuation. And don’t forget your due diligence when choosing a contractor.