05 Jul DIY home improvement design – Vaughan Keenan
If ‘improve’ rather than ‘move’ is the option you are considering then veteran renovator and home decorator Vaughan Keenan might just be able to save you time and money.
Kevin: We’re seeing a lot more people in the marketplace now wanting to improve rather than move, so when it comes to renovations, where can you go wrong, how to avoid the traps? I’m talking in this segment to Vaughan Keenan. Vaughan is from Grace and Keenan and has an extensive experience at both renovation and decoration.
Vaughan, welcome to the show and thanks for your time.
Vaughan: No, thank you, Kevin. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Kevin: I could call you the decorator to the stars, couldn’t I? Because you’ve done some work with Deborah Hutton.
Vaughan: We have just recently, just helping her, basically, fix some of the pitfalls and traps that come up when you’re renovating and also about it getting it right at the end of the day.
Kevin: Yes, very important. Where do you see renovators go wrong?
Vaughan: Basically, where most renovators go wrong, it’s mainly about inexperience at the end of the day. They go to some of the experts – like architects and interior designers and also draftsman and bits and pieces from there – but they start their design on sometimes how they want it to look rather than how it needs to be to live in and how it needs to flow.
Most architects, they want to design from the cutting-edge point of view as opposed to going, “How is this family going to live in the house?” Also too, “Who is going to buy it one day?” because everyone moves at some point in their life. Whether that’s a five-year period or a 50-year period, they do move on.
So, the flow and how it’s going to represent for the mass market is very important, and then you make the house pretty from there.
Kevin: You’ve obviously had extensive experience in this and you’re obviously very good at it because you’re in great demand. How much value does it add to a property? If you listed a property for sale and you did a makeover on it, are you able to give us a bit of an idea as to how much value that would add to the property?
Vaughan: Basically, a makeover, nine times out of ten does add value but as long as they fix the floor plan. A lot of people go in and think “We’ll give it a coat of paint. We’ll pop a kitchen or bathroom in.” But if they’re actually putting all of that into a house where the floor plan doesn’t work, it’s not actually going to add that much value.
So, if they fix the few pitfalls with the floor plan, then they start making it look what I call pretty and appealing to the mass market, they’ll then make some money, which depending on cost… The old rule was whatever you spent on it, you would like to get that back plus the same again. So, if you spent $100,000, you’d like to think the house is worth $200,000 more.
Kevin: Is that always the case?
Vaughan: Not always. Again, if they haven’t fixed it properly or they haven’t fixed some of the issues, because sometimes people think a “tart up” will fix it, but if you have structural issues or water problems or [2:47 inaudible] problems and you haven’t fixed those, they normally rear their head at the end of the stage and then that affects the price.
Kevin: When it comes to renovation, do you find that many people make the mistake of renovating it to their own taste as opposed to renovating it for the taste of the people they want to target or market?
Vaughan: Definitely. When people start adding bright colors to a house, carpets that are funny patterns, built-in cabinetry that no one else would want, often, that doesn’t add any value. It’s a little bit like spending money on C-Bus lighting, which is a computer-controlled lighting system. People think that’s great for them, but it’s not going to add any value.
A little bit like solar panels and everything, because you would want to make sure that it’s going to add value where sometimes those things don’t add value to the people who don’t want them.
Kevin: Do you think, therefore, that if they’re going to be looking at selling, people should make everything fairly neutral, or can you have splashes of color in different places?
Vaughan: You can do the odd feature wall because then, say, if I was selling it for somebody, I would say “Listen, if that feature wall offends you, you can paint it out.” That’s an easy fix. It’s when you see online sometimes, sometimes people put in a kitchen that’s bright red with black bench tops or something. That’s an expensive fix if people don’t like it.
So, the fundamentally expensive things to change should all be very neutral.
Kevin: You talked earlier about solar panels and so on and technology. Is it worthwhile putting good technology into a property, or is that really designed for and over a certain value style property? Can you over-value with technology?
Vaughan: Definitely. And it also depends on your age group of person buying your property. We just sold a house in Ascot, and that sold in the mid-$4 million range. That property had intercom, it had security, and it had a normal lighting system and a home hub so that you could patch things through, but it didn’t have any other technology. The people who purchased that house were in their 50s. They didn’t want the technology because they actually find it hard to manage.
You would think in a $4 million home, it should have all of that, but most people spending that sort of money, they’re not in their 20s or early 30s. They’re a slightly older crew where, say, a modern, new apartment, they normally put a bit of technology in there because the age bracket of the person is a little bit younger and they’re used to technology.
Kevin: Yes, it raises a really interesting point, doesn’t it, about if you’re thinking about selling your property, maybe you should get an agent like you in to say “Who do you think this is going to be targeted at and how should I prepare? What are the things people in this price range and this age group expecting in a property?”
Vaughan: Definitely, and also, too, how it’s staged and presented as far as furniture goes. If you’re selling an apartment on the river at Newstead in one of the more expensive buildings where they’re $2.5 million upwards, that furniture has to relate for down-sizers. They want comfort, they want ease, they want it to feel like something they would have at home. If you’re selling a $600,000 apartment in Newstead to the younger crew, they want it all very modern and minimal and slick. Not so much about comfort; it’s more about a look.
Kevin: So really think about the person who will be buying your property and then make it fit that demographic.
Vaughan: Exactly. And keep it nice and broad. In some cases, there’s a crossover, so you also have to style it and present it to suit both markets as well. So, definitely talk to agent who knows your area or knows your marketplace before you put it on the market on how you present it. Otherwise, you might present it and you have to re-present it again, and then you’ve wasted money.
Kevin: Thanks, Vaughan. Great advice. You can reach Vaughan and the team at Grace and Keenan, GraceAndKeenan.com.au. Thanks for your time, Vaughan.
Vaughan: No problem at all. Thanks, Kevin.