Advice and Opinion

What Are The Implications Of Buying A Property To Renovate?

With the slight upturn in the economy, agents are once again finding that purchasers are buying to renovate, and there seems to be more people renovating their existing homes, said Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential SA.

The question to be asked, however, is what the implications are of buying to renovate, when looking at the updated building (2011) and zoning regulations (2013), she said.

In some cases, she said, buyers are demolishing the existing home on the property to build two units, which in many cases is now allowed whereas before they were only single residential properties, but the effects of doing this need to be checked thoroughly before embarking on a project like this, she said.

“One of the implications is the changing of the character of an area. This is very evident in the area around Cavendish Square, for instance, where more and more properties now have duplexes and semi-detached homes being built on them, replacing the single family residences that were there. This has impacted on the character of the area, and it now is a mix of old and new,” she said.

While densification does fit in with the City of Cape Town’s need to remedy the shortage of housing, this should be done with sensitivity and thought to the look and feel of the renovation, she said.

“If you are buying to renovate, the most important thing to remember is that the money spent on the renovations must all add the right value to the completed home,” said Steward.

Frequently many badly thought out renovations are carried out, where costly changes have been made but when the owner comes to selling and is looking to cover the costs of the upgrades, finds that he doesn’t have the right value add, she said.

For example, if a buyer is considering building rooms such as a sewing room or craft room off the main bedroom (which is a very personal and unique use area), they should consider putting this room in a central position so that it can be used in an alternative way by other purchasers later.

Another example is when a home that was once a four bedroom family home has been converted into a two bedroom home, because the owners wanted larger proportions and, perhaps dressing rooms in the bedrooms. If this is to be done, it should be with thought to how the new buyer might be able to turn it back into a four bedroom house, without too much cost or complication, she said.

There is, too, a modern trend to create air-conditioned wine rooms that are features and placed in prominent places of the home. The placement of these needs careful thought as many have been built actually blocking off sections of living rooms or part of the entrance hall, which impedes the natural flow of the house.

“What needs to be remembered,” said Steward, “is that trends come and go, and anything built on or added to a home might not be wanted by the future buyers. Make sure the value of the renovation is in proportion with the value of the property and maximum that could be achieved in the area when selling it.

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