For those who have been toying with the idea of putting their property on the market, the lockdown period at home can be a double-edged sword - finally you have time to make those value-add home improvements you’ve been contemplating, but conversely you might not have the materials or equipment at hand that you need, with no way of getting them any time soon.
Still, there are certain jobs you can tackle with little or no equipment that will add sales appeal to your home and give you a head start when it comes to listing your property once the lockdown is lifted.
“Before putting your home up for sale, it pays to spend a bit of time getting it in the best shape possible,” says Andrew Haliday, head of merchandise at Bunnings. “There are plenty of small DIY jobs that homeowners with basic skills can do to help give their sale price a boost.”
Here, then, are the value-add home improvements that you can do yourself during lockdown:
1. A lick of paint
If you have paint on hand, Haliday says applying a fresh coat is one simple but effective task you can do during the lockdown to give your home a “new-house” feeling and refresh a space.
“Bathroom need a facelift? Completely freshen up the space by painting the tiles,” he suggests.
Caleb and Alice Pearson, winners of The Block NZ in 2013, hosts of The Ultimate Reno in 2018, and founders of Pearson+Projects, an online resource for DIY enthusiasts, home makers and renovators, agree that a paint job is a great way to brighten up your home, and that there’s a reason why painting is at the top of the DIY list for most home renovators.
“It’s a big impact project with relatively minimal cost and skill required. Painting or wallpapering completely changes the look and feel of a home, covering up any outdated design schemes, modernising and adding a new home feel,” Caleb Pearson says.
2. Kerb appeal
“It’s important to create a positive experience when a prospective buyer arrives at your property,” Haliday says. ”Is your fence in good condition? Does the same paling keep falling off or perhaps it’s time to build a new fence? Maybe it just needs a fresh coat of paint?
”Simple fixes can greatly improve the kerb appeal of your home.”
Even changing the look and feel of the front door can make a statement, Pearson explains.
“A makeover to your front door can create a strong first impression as well as bring street appeal to your property. This could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint and a new handle, or go the next step and add a digital door lock and video doorbell.”
Stan Scott, the "Easy As" builder from Mitre 10, says the exterior of your property is a good place to start.
“Stand in front of your house on the street and look at it as if you are a potential house hunter. Paint the fence, weed the garden, trim the trees, clear anything away from the house, lay new bark in the garden, plant a couple of feature plants, paint the window trims, give the house a light water blast, install a new letterbox, waterblast the driveway and fit a new front door or paint the existing one.”
3. Have a clear out
Haliday recommends looking at the rest of the house through a potential buyer’s eyes.
“Doing a declutter to remove the mess and things you no longer use is a cost-effective and easy way to get your home looking its best. A good place to start is the kitchen or bathroom.”
And while you’re at it, get the scrubbing brush out.
“It sounds obvious but giving everything a good clean makes a big difference. Think walls, carpets and windows, and don’t forget the grout.”
Block winners Caleb and Alice Pearson: "Painting or wallpapering completely changes the look and feel of a home."
Smith agrees that your home needs to look like it’s well-loved and maintained. “Get rid of any rubbish, define garden borders, stain the fences, weed the garden, and clean the windows.
Your home should be as attractive as possible not just for open homes, but for your listing’s photographs too, Pearson says.
“Declutter, stage, style and clean. Arrange your furniture to maximise space and the positive features of your property.”
4. Experiment with light and design touches
The Pearsons advocate using design features and subtle finishing touches to help your home stand out, such as creating a feature wall within several of the rooms or using a designer light pendants - which don’t require installation by an electrician - to create a focal point.
Changing interior lighting options can be a simple trick to enhance the look and feel of a space, Haliday says. “Whether you want to add warmth and ambience, make a bold statement or accent a feature, there are plenty of options.”
Mitre 10 "Easy As" Builder Stan Scott says the outside is a good place to start.
At the moment, playing around with design features has to be done with what you have in the house already -- maybe you could plan to frame some of those prints that have been sitting around for a while. “Adding a point of interest to a room, such as an artwork, can be an affordable way to add personality to a space,” Haliday says.
5. Outdoor activities
One fun job could be rearranging your outdoor living space and planning some furniture options or new decking.
“Us Kiwis love the outdoors,” Pearson says. ”And many of us will be walking around an open home wondering where we will put the barbecue to entertain friends, or where the kids can run around. An outdoor living space is a big value add to any property. Consider its connection to inside, flow between spaces and location on the property.”
Remember: Safety first
The last thing any of us want to be doing right now is taking up valuable space in hospitals or emergency rooms.
“If you're working at home during the lockdown, be especially mindful of who else is around your home and might enter your workspace,” Pearson says.
“Before a project, take five minutes to think about where any risks are and what you can do to avoid these, and if [you can’t], then minimise this risk.”
Always wear a dust mask when sanding or stripping old paint and do not get on the roof of your home unless you have a safety harness on, says Smith. In fact, leave any roof work to the professionals.
“Ladder injuries by DIYers are one of the main causes of ACC claims in NZ, so make 100 per cent sure your ladder has good footing and is not too steep. Keep the area around the bottom of the ladder completely clear of any obstacles, and never attempt to do any electrical or plumbing work yourself.”
He recommends visiting Building Work That Does Not Require a Building Permit before undertaking any DIY improvements on your home.