Whether you are renovating a recently acquired property or a property you’re thinking of putting on the market, timing can make a big difference in both cost and reducing your stress levels. Sam Funnell from Fine & Country Rugby gives tips on renovation tactics.

Whatever the reason for renovating, the first step is to do your homework. This will clarify whether it is financially viable and worthwhile in terms of lifestyle or return on investment. It will also answer the most important question of whether you have the funds to complete the work or whether it needs to be done in stages.

Renovating can be stressful, particularly if you are living on-site. No matter how clean and tidy your builder is there will be dust and noise, so it’s important to have an escape plan. Try to seal off one area of the house to remain clutter free. Setting an agreed budget at the beginning of a renovation with an extra 10 per cent for unforeseen needs can also help to reduce stress and save relationships. Try to avoid renovating at the same time as other major life events.

If you are renovating a recently acquired property, assuming it is habitable, it is worthwhile living in it to get a feel for what is going to work in terms of both lifestyle and aesthetics. It provides the opportunity to work with what you have and it’s surprising how some simple changes, such as removing a wall, can move an area from pleasant to amazing.

Now is the perfect time to prepare your house if you are planning to sell soon. Most lifestyle renovators complete their work before Christmas and during the summer months. Building contractors are heavily booked during this season, so availability is sometimes an issue.

Renovating to sell is a different proposition from renovating for quality of life. A homeowner looking to enjoy improvements for the next 20 years might well find a £50,000 kitchen remodel to be a valid expense, however, if you’re looking at improvements prior to selling, it’s unlikely a £50,000 kitchen will translate to an equivalent increase in sale price.

Having said this, when preparing a house for sale prioritise kitchen and bathroom remodelling.  These are the improvements most likely to recoup their costs and create actual equity.  Try to refurbish, rather than replace and stress appearance, rather than function. Putting £2,000 towards painting or refreshing flooring will provide a greater return on investment than installing a new water heater, as long as the current one is functional.

Appearance is what registers with the majority of buyers, so consider upgrading highly visible elements such as kitchen countertops.  Cabinets are at eye level too, so depending on the condition and the material, refacing, repainting or replacing may be a good option. Upgrading fixtures and hardware in kitchens and bathrooms can also be surprisingly effective in improving the appeal of these rooms and while not necessarily cheap, this type of work can be done quickly with minimal disruption.

Any work done on preparing a house for sale should be based on return on investment. The cost of improving your house before selling needs to result in a sale price that is higher than what you put in, but this can be tricky to gauge. A good real estate agent who has an in-depth understanding of the current state of the local market can help you to determine the most cost-effective investments.

For advice on selling or buying property, please contact Fine & Country Rugby on 01788 820062 or visit www.fineandcountry.com