Home improvement ideas can breathe new life into your home and also make it more appealing should you plan to put it on the market.
Taking on a home improvement project might be something you are doing because you just love throwing yourself into a project and especially one that will make your home better in some way or improve its function. Other people take on home improvement work solely to add value to the property; they may not plan to live in the same house forever and so it is all about carrying out some work that will hopefully add value to the selling price.
In coming up with actual home improvement ideas, you should look to what could be improved in your home; what would add value and/or function. There is no point in changing something that is working perfectly well or making a project of something that is already a feature of your home. The best home improvement ideas are those that enhance the space and add functionality and/or make it look more aesthetically pleasing.
Pinterest is a really good starting point for getting and storing ideas for your projects and it is fantastic for inspiration. Create your own board (you can make it a ‘secret board’ if you wish) and start gathering inspiration from other pinners. You’ll likely notice a pattern emerging of your style. You will be able to see what colours and styles resonate most with you and this will hopefully allow you to define the direction your own project should take no matter what part of the house your project is on.
Home Renovation Doesn’t Need to Be Stressful
Sometimes you hear people talking about various home renovation projects and they are close to ripping their hair out. It simply doesn’t need to be this way. Depending on budget of course and time, it might be an idea to choose just one project at a time because you can always add on another as you go or at a later stage. It is really important to stick to the budget that you set out at the beginning because inevitably if you go over it, you will get stressed out. A really important thing to remember is to keep a contingency element to the budget of 10-15% as things will likely overrun and at least if you have a contingency element, you will have some padding. Once you have set your budget, it is then time to go through the many home improvement ideas that you could consider. Try to look at this project as a fun experience because despite the upheaval you may experience, in the long run a good and well planned home improvement project will be worth it.
Tips When Budgeting for Your Home Improvement Project:
- Focus larger elements of your budget on classic items for the project such as a timeless piece of furniture in a classic style that will stand the test of time and isn’t a trend setting piece.
- Focus the budget on quality pieces of furniture such as a wonderfully crafted table as this will likely be a focus point and you will use it a lot. It’s not a good idea to waste budget (when you are restricted) on pieces of art that could go out of fashion or could be something that you end up disliking.
- Pick up cheap but distinctive accessories as the project goes on. You’ll find wonderful pieces in markets, second hand stores, antique outlets etc. Pick a theme and keep your eye out. EBay and other online marketplaces are obviously great places too.
- Don’t scrimp on your budget for quality trades people. Invest in those who come recommended or with reliable testimonials as you won’t regret it in terms of their work effort and output.
Home Improvement Idea 1: Add a Pool
Over 12% of the Australian population have swimming pools on their property most probably due to the largely warm climate (the ownership figure rises to 18% in Perth). With world temperatures on the increase (2015 was the hottest year on record worldwide), having a swimming pool on your property is quite the attraction. So if as a homeowner, you don’t currently have a swimming pool, is it worth investing in one as part of a home renovation idea and how much will the project cost? As with any home improvement project, it is important not to over capitalise in that if you spend too much money, you may not get back the cost of your renovation should you sell on your home.
Benefits of having a pool in the home
- Great entertainment for children
- They add style to a home
- They can increase the rental attraction of the home
- The can increase the value of a home should you wish to sell it on
- Keeps the family cool in hot weather
Pools can be built in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and of course these variables will all have a bearing on the price associated. Obviously it’s important to choose a pool that will suit your home (in terms of its style) and of course your budget. To determine how much you should allocate towards the project, you could compare the values of homes in your area with and without a swimming pool. Approach some real estate agents for advice especially if you plan to put the home on the market in the future. The real estate agent will have experience of what type of pool in terms of size might be suitable for your home. This research part of the process is really important because if you build a pool to the same level of the area you live in, you won’t overspend.
How much will a pool cost?
Pools vary in price mainly due to the size you choose but also the type.
|Inground Pools||Above Ground Pools|
|More expensive due to excavation costs||Less expensive option|
|Two types: concrete & fibreglass||DIY kits made from resin shells with vinyl liners start at around $3500 and go up to $6500 or more|
|Concrete pools cost between $35,000 to over $100,000 to install but on average around $50,000||If you add timber decking this will increase the price a further $1500 to $2000. Depending on the amount of excavation needed this can cost another $2500|
|Fibreglass pool shells cost between $6500 and $25,000||Larger above ground pools may also require a concrete slab to be poured.|
|A fibreglass pool installed in-ground costs between $25,000 and $75,000 or over. The higher costs going towards excavation and pumps etc.||A complete above ground kit that includes a pool pump, filter, and other accessories could cost up to $9000|
Tips for choosing a pool supplier
- Get recommendations from people in the area that have pools. Also check online forums and pool supplier’s websites for testimonials.
- Ask suppliers for references and ask if it’s possible to go and view some of their work in person.
Home Improvement Idea 2: Alfresco Living
Dining and entertaining outdoors is something that most Australians are accustomed to due to the predominantly warm climate. That’s why upgrading any outdoor space that you may have will add an extra dimension to your home by extending the space. It would also make an attractive feature should you plan to sell your home in the future.
Things to Consider Before Designing Your Alfresco Space:
- Function – what do you ultimately want to use the new alfresco area for most? Is it for extra dining space? Or will you use it for cooking or perhaps a combination of both? Will it be used as extra space for young kids? Knowing the answer to those questions will help you decide on layout, design, furniture and appliances.
- Shade – it can get really warm when the sun is at full strength and staying protected from that and being comfortable needs to be a priority. You could get a built in shade over head or you could also invest in a beautifully presented and functional awning: there are many options to choose from.
- Climate – depending on the area of Australia that you live in, you will need to make provision for things like tropical showers and varying temperature so your alfresco area might need some degree of shelter. Other factors in this consideration would be how often you plan on using it or whether you will be using it primarily for dining, so keep in mind shelter in this respect.
- Space – an alfresco space differs to a patio area in that an alfresco area is meant to be an extension of an existing home whereas a patio is sometimes seen as specifically an outdoor area. When adding an alfresco space to a home, in most cases a builder will need to knock out a wall or a section of a wall. After making sure the opening can bear the weight of the roof, bifold doors are installed. They come in a variety of formats but when fully opened, the indoors and outdoors are directly connected to each other. Before you proceed with this work, you obviously need to take into account whether you have the space for this new area e.g. will losing an internal wall have issues for storage in another room or also do you have sufficient space outdoors or will this work require you to sacrifice some garden space.
Costings of an Alfresco Area:
This really does depend on the extent you want to develop this area as there are a number of elements that you might or might not include in the work. Factors you might be thinking about:
- Roofing and a ceiling
Your builder will quote but in general extension work tends to cost $2000-3000 per m2.
- Decking or paving or tiling
In terms of decking, it obviously depends on the wood that you use and the area you need to cover but this Australian deck supplier estimates it as follows (2015 prices):
10m long alfresco deck span x 3m wide (or deep) alfresco deck span = 30 m2
30 x $200 = $6,000
30 x $250 = $7,500
This estimated cost includes merbau hardwood decking panels, joists, bearers, materials used to build and fasten, labour, and insurance coverage. The price would be higher if it were to include handrails and balustrades. Important to also consider the maintenance involved after installation for decking as it will require treatment throughout its life.
For paving (average):
$100 per square metre supplied and laid.
For tiling (excluding tiles):
Tilers differ in price per hour, but as a guide you can average $40 – $60 an hour.
- Home renovations such as knocking out walls and installing bifold doors
This would be included in the quote from the builder but again in or around the $2000-3000 mark.
Your builder will likely sub-contract this out but you’ll need to factor in the lighting costs that are associated with the many options for outdoor lighting including pool lighting, recessed decking lighting, motion lighting, feature lighting; there are many options to consider and this will obviously impact on the costs associated.
- Retractable screens
There are many options here and some will have function as well as adding beautiful aesthetics to the home also. Retractable screens can help with issues of security, shelter and keeping out unwanted flies plus many others uses.
Home Improvement Idea 3: Upgrade Your Kitchen Even on a Budget!
Without a doubt, the kitchen is the heart of the family home. It’s there where most activity and interaction takes place and it has obvious function also so it’s important that it is a room that you love. That’s why it is a wonderful place to choose to carry out some home renovations. While the obvious choice would be to totally overhaul the kitchen cabinets, this can work out very expensive if you acquire the services of a bespoke kitchen designer and carpenter but the good news is that updating a kitchen can also be done on a budget! This can be achieved by choosing a flat pack kitchen (also known as an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution) and then adding your own personal touches and stylish tones via the accessories. It will require extra effort and planning but your hard work and personal input will result in a wonderful new kitchen aesthetic and you will be extra happy with the money you save!
Flat pack kitchens that come from large hardware retailers and flatpack specialists tend to be set sizes and you need to fit around them. Other flatpack kitchens are available on a made to measure basis, which obviously allows for more scope but inevitably will be more expensive.
Advantages of Choosing a Flat Pack Kitchen:
- Obviously costs will be lower than a bespoke kitchen design.
- Advanced materials technology means wide choices are available in terms of laminate materials etc.
- A flat pack kitchen can be purchased quickly, installed and ready for use in a very short turnaround time.
- Clever storage solutions are available as part of flat pack kitchen options.
To prepare for your new kitchen, getting the measurements right is vitally important. Some retailers offer a measuring service but you can do it yourself.
This instructional video from IKEA who specialise in flat pack furniture, explains how to measure your kitchen area in preparation for your new kitchen.
An average price for a bespoke kitchen from a top quality supplier could be anything from $40,000.
Average costings to expect for a flat pack kitchen solution:
- Basic L-shaped flat pack IKEA kitchen with laminate counter tops and standard melamine cabinets will cost you approximately $1500-$2000.
- A solid timber counter top could add an extra $300-$400.
- Adding appliances could add on approximately $3000 but it obviously depends on the number of new appliances you choose.
With a flat pack kitchen, it is of course possible for you to install the kitchen yourself but this should only be considered if you are experienced and have all the necessary tools. The kitchen cabinetry will be used a lot so it needs to be securely installed. Your flat pack kitchen supplier will have a list of trades people that they recommend you engage with but you can still ask them individually to see examples of their work.
Tips for Adding Stylish Accessories:
- Accessories in a kitchen will appear less contrived when they are items that “make sense” for the space so always try to keep function at the heart of your choices.
- If space is limited, try to find quirky and unique looking jars or pots to use as utensil holders, decorative containers for day-to-day items, or a plate stand to display a collection of plates.
- Be practical with your selections by looking for items that can easily be cleaned or wiped down as part of your regular cleaning routine.