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Friday, 07 November 2014 00:45

Growing Money On Trees

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Despite often being overlooked or underdone, outdoor spaces can make an enormous difference on auction day. Here, Rachael Harrington speaks to industry experts about how landscaping can add to your property’s resale value.

Though it mightn’t always be perfect, Australians across the nation have to admit that we really are the lucky country when it comes to climate. Given our abundance of sunny days, it’s no surprise that Australians love to enjoy the great outdoors.

Being able to spend time with family and friends relaxing, entertaining and simply enjoying our outdoor spaces is a luxury that isn’t out of reach for most of us. With such strong ties to quality of life, there’s little wonder why outdoor spaces are among the most popular areas of a property to renovate.

Whether you’re looking to sell your home in the near future or later down the track, experts agree that a property’s outdoor spaces play a significant role in the overall impression of your home, and therefore can hugely affect the sale price.

Here Pool + Outdoor Renovation seeks the advice of experts from around Australia on how to best renovate your outdoor spaces, so you can not only enjoy them while they’re yours, but get maximum return on investment come auction day.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

As the business development manager of Queensland’s Beau Corp Aquatics & Construction, Michael Hoy understands the value of a first impression. He believes this is particularly important when it comes to selling your home.

“Buyers start to form an opinion even before they walk through the door,” Hoy says.

This means that although most people spend their time outdoors at the rear of their property, the front of the home is still a very important consideration when undertaking outdoor renovations, as it is often the first thing potential buyers see – either in advertising or upon inspection.

“[It helps to] stand in the shoes of the buyer and see your property for the first time,” advises Hoy.

Potential purchasers will not be enticed by a renovated backyard if they aren’t first persuaded to make it through the front door. Given a potential buyer’s impression of your home starts to form before they even set foot on the property, think about how you can create an inviting entry.

If required, your fence and/or gate should complement the style of your home, providing security without detracting from your home’s appeal. The approach to the front door should be clear and clean, such as a paved pathway.

Soft landscaping shouldn’t be forgotten, regardless of the size of the space. Even a little bit of greenery, from a small lawn to a few potted plants, will go a long way in creating an inviting atmosphere.

Remember that the front exterior of a property will set the tone for what’s to come. This is where buyers can get emotional, so make them excited to see what lies beyond.

TAKING THE INSIDE OUT

Once buyers have been enticed into your home, the experts agree that the focus should be on how the interior relates to the exterior.

As managing director of Victoria’s Domain Pools and Landscapes, Tony McLeod’s experience in the pool and landscape industry spans more than 30 years. When it comes to selling your home, he believes that the most important element of landscaping is how it complements the house.

“Build a quality outdoor space which relates to your home’s living space,” he advises.

“The outdoor space [should be] an extension of the [home’s] living/entertaining rooms.” Senior landscape designer at LD TOTAL, a boutique Western Australian landscape company, Candice Day says that an outdoor entertaining area is one of the most commonly requested landscaping features.

“It’s like adding another room to the home,” she says.

“A stunning open-plan design, with wide floorto- ceiling glass doors opening out to terraced areas, will make the outdoors feel like a natural extension of any impressive internal living and entertaining space.”

Another popular way to achieve good indoor/outdoor flow is by continuing materials and colours from the interior to the exterior, such as travertine tiles that extend from inside the house to the alfresco dining area.

“Creating the seamless integration between the indoors and outdoors allows beautiful flow,” says Hoy.

“By extending the square metreage of your property seamlessly from the indoors to the outdoors, [you] can make a big difference to the value of a property.”

JUST ADD WATER

If you’re looking to make an outdoor investment with lasting value, which your family can enjoy today and will appeal to buyers in the future, the experts say that you can’t go past a pool.

“We often say to our clients ‘Why not holiday in your own backyard?’” says Hoy. “The secret to the ultimate outdoor escape is water – liquid architecture. Water soothes and relaxes and makes your home more like a holiday resort. Swimming pools top Aussie property wish lists.”

A multi-award-winning pool builder at the top of his trade, Ben Thompson is the founder and managing director of Sunset Pools. He has transformed many properties throughout Sydney with his adventurous pool concepts.

“Well-designed and constructed swimming pool and spa renovations invariably add value to a property for the right buyers,” he says.

“When selling a property as a lifestyle choice, the inclusions are critical. A relaxing resortstyle property can lose its appeal if there is no swimming pool and/or spa.

“When a pool is part of a well-designed outdoor living area and complements the house by creating a better aspect to the property, then it is sure to add appeal and value to the home.”

If your property already has a pool but it is dated or dilapidated, it will do little to attract buyers. Renovating an existing pool is far more affordable than starting from scratch, yet can make an enormous difference to the overall appeal of an outdoor space.

MINIMISING MAINTENANCE

While buyers may be impressed by an outdoor design that appears reminiscent of a luxury resort, they certainly won’t be impressed if it requires resort-style maintenance.

“Remember that buying a home is also buying a lifestyle,” says Day.

“A homebuyer wants to be able to see themselves living in the house without having to do much to it.”

A pool will certainly help to evoke the feeling of a holiday at home, but it will also add an extra element of maintenance to the outdoor space. This is especially true when it comes to older pools with out-dated technology, which require a lot of time-consuming, hands-on maintenance.

“Pool and spa automation has become key as it eliminates what can sometimes be perceived as the necessity of maintenance,” Thompson says.

“Modern automated water heating, sanitation and cleaning supplant most buyers’ concerns, allowing them to appreciate the immense enjoyment, exercise, leisure and entertaining potential their pool will undoubtedly provide.”

It’s not just pools that present maintenance issues either. Outdoor designs without a pool can also require a lot of time-consuming maintenance.

“Today’s buyers want to see an appealing, well-presented garden space that they can imagine living in and enjoying,” says Day.

“People want to enjoy their outdoor space, but not be a slave to it.”

An experienced landscape designer like Day will be able to advise which plant varieties will be able to flourish in your local area, without requiring a lot of upkeep.

“Less watering, weeding and upkeep means more time enjoying your relaxing outdoor living space,” says Hoy.

Hoy advises that garden maintenance can be minimised by reducing the amount of lawn and replacing it with foot-friendly native ground covers or colourful pebbles and stones.

FORM AND FUNCTION

As well as ensuring that your outdoor design is appealing and easy to maintain, Hoy advises that it’s not just about aesthetics.

“While the garden needs to look good, it also needs to be functional,” he says.

“The practical elements are essential to most gardens, but they don’t need to be ugly or unattractive.”

“Remember that it’s not just about the plants you choose and where you put them,” Day agrees. “The overall layout is important when you’re thinking about functionality.

“This mean considering practical elements such as the clothesline, where to store garbage bins and where to park the car. The trick is to blend them into your overall scheme and not to draw attention to them.”

Ensuring that your outdoor space is functional for a potential home buyer will mean thinking about who your buyer will be.

“You need a clear picture of the type of buyer you are targeting,” says Day.

“Is it a family with two kids, for example? Do they need somewhere for the kids to play… [or] an outdoor area for meals and entertaining?” While it’s hard to know exactly who your target buyer will be without speaking to a real estate professional, think about both your home and the area you live in. For example, a home that is close to schools and has four bedrooms is going to be ideal for a young family, so the outdoor spaces should be designed with this in mind.

LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS

If your budget is small, you may be tempted to do some of the renovating yourself in a bid to save money. However, the experts warn that DIY renovations should be approached with caution as they can easily backfire.

Poor-quality work can be spotted a mile away and will do little to add to your resale value.

Rather than adding profit, poorly executed DIY work could potential be a waste of both your time and money.

“Getting an outdoor professional to design your outdoor area will culminate in an outdoor living space that works exactly how you envisioned it,”says Hoy.

“A well-planned design will save you money and add value to your home.”

As well as ensuring that the quality of work is high, a professional will also have the experience and knowledge to advise on how to best renovate to add value.

DON’T BLOW IT

As with any form of renovation, when improving your outdoor spaces you may run the risk of overcapitalising. Hoy says that it is important to understand that if you invest large amounts of money in an outdoor space that are disproportionate to the value of the land, you run the risk of losing money.

McLeod says that speaking to those in the know is essential to avoid overcapitalising.

“Read through magazines, do your property research, look at your local property market and talk to professionals within the industry,” he advises.

“The general rule of thumb is to not spend more than 10 to 15 per cent of the value of your property on landscaping,” says Day.

“The trick is to maximise any existing hardscapes and infrastructure where possible and extend from there.”

The experts agree that those most at risk of overcapitalising are those looking to sell in the short-term.

“What you spend on improving a property is critical when you intend to sell in the short-term and it’s always best to consult a local agent,” says Thompson.

“This is less of an issue for people renovating an outdoor space they intend to live with for a longer period. Here your investment is worth exactly how much enjoyment you and your family will accumulate over the coming years.”

“We often establish in the early stages of our clients’ planning [whether] they are taking a long-term approach on their home renovation or a short-term,” says Hoy.

“This can often determine the cost of the renovation.”

Regardless of whether selling is in your short- or long-term plan, Hoy advises using timeless and simple products that will not date, to give your outdoor space enduring appeal.

While profit can never be guaranteed, following the advice of industry professionals will certainly put you on the right path. Whether you plan to sell soon or later down the track, speak to the experts in your local area to help transform your property into a place that anyone would be happy to call home.

Read 6035 times Last modified on Friday, 07 November 2014 00:53