Australia is a house-proud nation. It’s not unusual to find us pottering around the house, painting a wall here and concreting a garden path there.
And the proof is in the pudding – renovation activity across the nation is estimated to have totalled more than $33 billion during 2017.
Roy Morgan’s Renovation Nation: Home Improvement in Australia report, which was released last year, shows that the most popular home improvements are minor repairs and alterations. This is followed closely by paint projects, plumbing, electrical work and styling.
Housing Industry Association Sunshine Coast branch manager Stuart Collins says during 2017, approvals for renovations work in the Sunshine Coast region came in at $144.7 million, up slightly (+2.1 per cent) when compared with 2016.
“This figure includes only renovations work which was large and substantial enough to require authorisation from local government – most renovations activity does not, so the true value of the local renovations market is much greater than $145 million,’’ he says.
“The growth we have witnessed over the past year has been helped by the remarkably low level of interest rates as well as continued modest growth in dwelling prices.
“Our survey results indicate that repairs and maintenance jobs are the single biggest source of demand in the renovations market. The lesson is that renovations work is often crucial just to maintain the value of a home and overcome the effects of years of wear and tear on the property.
“Renovations work is also an important avenue for updating the feel of a home and making it more consistent with modern standards of design and comfort.
“Over time, for example, kitchens and bathrooms have moved from being functional parts of a home to adding to the overall sense of style and comfort.
“For this reason, both kitchen and bathroom renovation jobs form major parts of the renovation industry’s order books.”
Two people who know plenty about renovation projects are Australian model Elyse Knowles and her partner Josh Barker.
In 2017, Ms Knowles swapped heels and the catwalk for a hammer on the popular Channel Nine reality series The Block.
Together, she and Mr Barker converted a dilapidated weatherboard Elsternwick home into a masterpiece. The property was purchased for $3.067 million by comedian and television personality Dave Hughes, and they pocketed $547,000 in the process.
Following the show, the couple enjoyed an extended holiday, but they are back and busier than ever before.
“We are both now back at work and ready for a really exciting 2018,’’ Ms Knowles tells My Weekly Preview.
“We have started a company called JE Projects and, under this, we will renovate and design high-end properties that we love and hope others will love too.”
The pair recently made headlines for the sale of their Coburg home, which was their first renovation project together. It took 18 months to complete and it certainly paid off, selling at auction for $1.63 million.
“It was very hard to part ways with our Coburg home as we spent so many hours, weeks, months and years working on the renovation. A lot of blood, sweat and tears,’’ Mr Barker says. “But it was time to move on and we have been lucky enough to purchase our new home. It’s another renovator’s delight – what else?
“We intend to do a high-end architectural build that is going to turn heads again.
“At the start our goal is always the same, and not overly original, which is to search for the ‘worst’ house in the best street, in blue-chip areas,’’ he says of their renovation process. “From there, we create a budget that we can live comfortably with, and always include a contingency plan for unexpected hurdles and costs.
“From a design perspective, we try to come up with amazing high-end yet feasible ideas. Ideas that can be achieved in budget and don’t over-capitalise. This is the time to secure reliable trades, with us also working long hours, so we can save on trades where we don’t need them.”
Ms Knowles adds: “Living in a half-demolished house isn’t always fun. But we get through by always remembering the end goal.”
Three must-do renovation projects
Identifying any structural and non-structural defects with a view to having them rectified through renovations work is the single most important value-adding exercise that a homeowner can undertake.
Homeowners interested in adding value should review each of their home’s rooms with respect to modern standards of style, design and comfort, particularly when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms.
With more people expected to work from home over time, the conversion of spare rooms or parts of living areas to function as a home office is also worth considering.