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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Next Level

Knocking through and levelling up - your three-step guide to renovating

Invaluable tips and tricks for navigating the new territory of home improvement.

BUYING YOUR FIRST home doesn’t always mean moving into a property in turnkey condition – but putting your stamp on a place can be half the fun.

However, that said, a task as big as renovating a new house can be rather intimidating unless you’ve been there before. But never fear – help is at hand. We’re here to let you know what will increase value, where corners can be cut and what can wait until after your first Christmas in the place…

1. Decide on your priorities

Some projects in your new home will have a greater bearing on its value than others – so when you’re sitting down to start renovations, some things should take priority. Of course, this will be different for everyone and depending on the house’s condition, but there are some failsafe rules to guide you along.

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The kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of any home and most people will prioritise it being comfortable (and, of course, functional!). The basics are key in a kitchen, such as appliances and countertops, but even changing the knobs on some units can make a big difference to the room’s appeal.

Bigger kitchens are better – if you can knock through, you should definitely consider it. Open plan houses are great for families. Always ask the estate agent about the potential for knocking through, opening ceilings and extending out a home. Don’t assume that it will always be possible because that could be a recipe for future disappointment.

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The bathroom

Next up is the bathroom. Functional necessities aside, natural light is a big asset in bathrooms, and cleverly installed units can maximise space. Don’t let the toilet under the stairs let you down by forgetting all about it!

Rushing into conversions

Renovating a bedroom into an interest-specific room (such as a library or study with purpose-built furniture) can affect the value of your home. Potential buyers may not want to renovate – are you sure you don’t need or won’t want that extra bedroom before you drill a winerack into the wall?

2. Where you can make cut-backs

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In the bathroom

As we mentioned, functionality is the main priority in a bathroom (no sniggering, please). Decorations should take a backseat to making sure that you have all the amenities you want. However, that said, desirable bells and whistles like heated towel-racks and under-floor heating are definitely second-string to a well-fitted power shower that will last you for years.

The bathroom is also an area where you might be able to take on some of the decorating work yourself. Seeking out tiles and equipment – and rooting out a washer or two – will save you workmans’ bills and don’t take the know-how of other household areas.

Save money by using existing plumbing locations wherever possible to avoid building projects. Remember that you don’t really need a massive bathroom, too – it might be space better used elsewhere in the house if you are refurbishing.

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In the kitchen

You don’t always need custom cupboards – and they might not need to be ripped out, though they initially might look grubby. Can you change the doors, change the handles, paint them, sand them? It’s wise to invest in good counters as they affect the resale value, but cabinets can be worked on.

Presses seem important, but it’s an area where appearance is actually more deceptive than you think. Reinvest the money saved into quality appliances.

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Never underestimate how important lighting and wiring are in your home – and that they are much more difficult to change once you are in and settled. Lighting is often overlooked but can really affect how a room looks.

3. Know your entitlements

Most importantly: cashback. In last year’s Budget, the Government announced the “home renovation incentive” (HRI) scheme, which saves VAT for homeowners looking to spruce up their property. It is due to run for works carried out up to December 2015.

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According to Revenue, the scheme provides tax relief for home-owners by way of an income tax credit at 13.5% of qualifying expenditure on repair, renovation or improvements carried out by qualifying contractors.

The minimum cost of the works is €4,405 – but to give you an idea of the savings, that will entitle you to credits of €595.

The most popular renovations under the scheme so far have been window replacements, home extensions, kitchen remodelling and general fix-ups, which will give you an idea of what other homeowners are doing to their houses at the moment.

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So if you’re planning on a few fix-ups, this could be the right time. But remember – don’t put the cart before the horse and get those towel-racks before the loo can flush…

Got any other renovation advice for us? Let us know in the comments. 

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