We spoke to experts to find out what, in their experience, added rand value to a home; which elements were worth investing in, either to recoup the money spent, or add rands and cents when you come to sell
LIVING INSIDE OUT
A covered patio feeds into the South African psyche like nothing else. It provides outdoor living through rain and shine, allows you to furnish it as stylishly as you would an indoor space and provides you with another living area. Stackable glass doors manage the weather, and stylish security or wooden shutters add layers of functionality and security. Verandas that connect to living rooms can essentially add hundreds of square metres to a house.
Designer, Michele Throssell, considers an extended veranda or patio off the main living area to be a huge plus from a resale perspective. She’s finding that, increasingly, clients are wooed by the addition of a contemporary bar in this area.
COOKING IS THE NEW COOL
When asked which elements of a home buyers are most swayed by, Chris Tyson, CEO of Tyson Properties, says kitchens and bathrooms. “But it’s not always about gutting them. Consider a good refresher, such as a coat of paint, new countertops, modern handles or cupboard doors. People don’t want grotty kitchens or bathrooms – these are the areas that put people off the most.”
All our experts agree: a wonderful kitchen can have the wow first-impression factor, but for them it’s more about the flow of the kitchen to other rooms than about the kitchen itself. Michele says her ideal kitchen is a well-planned, modern working area that’s sleek, contemporary, well-fitted and, ideally, with a tucked-away scullery. Undoubtedly, first-class, built-in appliances in a well-equipped, hi-tech kitchen could easily be a dealmaker for those who love to cook, and then you’d find yourself recouping those expenses.
If the kitchen is literally sited in the heart of the home, it’s important it fits in visually with the overall style. A tired kitchen will drag down the adjacent areas.
WET, WET, WET
There’s something about a beautiful bathroom that speaks to women in particular. But to what extent do you need to enhance it? If you’re living there long term, you’ll want a functional, up-to-date bathroom. If you’re spending the money, it’s the economical time to look at niceties, such as beautiful big showerheads, underfloor heating and heated towel rails.
Will you recoup the expense? The jury’s out on that. Michele feels, “I’d rather buy a house with old bathrooms and renovate them to my taste because it’s such a personal space. I don’t want to pay for someone else’s renovation that wasn’t to my liking.”
Chris’s opinion is to rather spruce it up with fresh grouting and paint.
SAVE YOUR ENERGY
Given the spiralling costs of electricity, energy-saving elements are an attractive prospect for buyers. The concept also touches the green, sustainability buttons to which wiser consumers are increasingly sensitive.
Architect Joy Brasler says, “Any newly constructed or altered home today is required to have some form of alternative energy system of water heating and, similarly, heating and cooling control via glazing. I think this is the next ‘frontier’ of the savvy home buyer: solar panels, heat pumps and rain water catchment or, in my opinion, the ultimate being entirely off the grid. These systems and installations are all currently very expensive and can cost upwards of R500 000 to install in a house. It’s very easy to be seduced by the apparent charms of a house, but as power and water costs spiral, these systems will definitely become more standard and prospective homeowners will seek them out.” They’ll also be prepared to pay for them.
Deflecting heat and maximising air flow are all part and parcel of reducing our reliance on energy. Michele is a solid fan of shutters and blinds:
“They don’t attract mildew and mould, are easy to maintain and keep clean, and are definitely preferable to heavy curtains.” In addition, if they’re contemporary security shutters, their multifaceted role is clearly a drawcard for buyers and a great value-added element to install in a home.
OFFICE, COTTAGE OR STUDIO?
Building a granny flat is expensive and, according to Chris Tyson, finance unlikely to be recouped short-term. But, if you have elderly parents to house, work from home or plan to rent it out, it’s a different scenario. In that case you’re either earning or saving money, so it’ll pay for itself and add substantial value to the home when you sell.
Chris is certain that extra space is a major plus when selling. “But take care,” he says. “A buyer’s concept of a granny flat often differs substantially from that of a seller. We’re not talking about giving old-style staff quarters a lick of paint and a new carpet. Today, substantially renovated staff quarters are upgraded for staff. A granny flat is a modern, light, charming en suite bedsit or a one- or two-bedroomed cottage leading onto a patio or garden. Somewhere you’d be happy for your parents to live, or a bright and light little unit ideal for a single person.”
But whether it’s a flatlet or office, globally – and certainly in South Africa – they’re increasingly on home buyers’ wish lists.