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8 Tips for Renovating an Apartment
●August 9, 2021●5 minute read
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Renovating an apartment can be an intimidating process — especially given that they come with their own challenges that you often don’t have to worry about with houses.
First of all, you might not get permission to make big alterations if it will affect the structure of your building. Being higher up in the building can also make access an issue for contractors. There are also more neighbours in closer proximity that will likely have to deal with disruptions. Once you get past all this, then there’s the cost to factor in.
While it’s not going to be cheap, a good renovation can drastically increase the value of your property. So most of the time, the hardest part is getting started.
If you’re planning to renovate an apartment, we’ve put together eight handy tips to help you get started.
1. Set a budget
The first thing you will need to do is establish a budget. Renovations aren’t going to be cheap, so it helps to have a bit of cash saved up. Having savings can also help if you’re trying to get a loan to finance your renovations.
A great way to sort out your budget is by setting certain amounts for each room of the apartment. For example, if you save $20,000, you can allocate $6,000 for the kitchen and $8,000 for the bathroom. Since these are the most expensive rooms, you can then afford to splurge a bit more on the bedrooms and living areas. You might even have a bit left over, which is never a bad thing, but it also helps to have extra wiggle room if needed.
2. Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations
Before you get started with the planning stage, you will need to find out your building’s rules and regulations concerning renovations.
There are some things you can change without needing approval, such as a fresh coat of paint or some new curtains. Anything more, and you may need to consult your building’s strata by-laws. These allow owners to customise their personal space, without disrupting others in the building or interfering with the building’s uniform appearance.
Anything classified as a major change under strata by-laws will need permission from your building’s management or body corporate. For example, most bathroom and kitchen renovations will be considered major changes due to the plumbing connections.
So before you start knocking down walls, it’s best to find out what you can and can’t do.
3. Create a plan
So you’ve got the funds, the approval of building management, and now it’s time to start planning what you want to do with your apartment.
Drawing up a roadmap of everything you will need can help you see where your money is going. This includes materials, tools and equipment, and any tradespeople you might need to hire. It also helps give you a timeline of when you can expect certain tasks to be completed.
The planning stage gives you the chance to get to know the tradespeople you will be working with, so communication is key to make sure everyone is on the same page. Make sure you shop around for quotes within your budget.
Once you have your plan set out, it can be a good idea to share it with your neighbours to let them know of any interruptions. While some noise and mess are guaranteed, you’ll want to minimise disruptions as much as possible to keep your neighbours happy. They’ll thank you for it, and it can make bumping into them in the hallway far less awkward.
4. Do a paint job
Perhaps the simplest way to breathe some new life into your apartment is a fresh lick of paint. Better yet, it’s also cheap and usually doesn’t require any special approval. If you’re looking to save money, painting is something you can do yourself instead of hiring a professional.
Preparation is key, so make sure you remove any flaking or chipped paint and scrub the walls with sugar soap. This will help ensure a nice even base coat, making the following layers go on much easier. Be sure to mask up the edges and lay down a drop sheet, and have some fun with it.
5. Change flooring
Another way to instantly make your apartment look and feel more modern is to change the flooring.
Some older apartments will have carpet in the bedrooms and living room, with linoleum in the kitchen and tiles in the bathroom.
Tiles are essential for the bathroom, but you can replace the carpets or change the flooring altogether.
Hardwood flooring is expensive, but is a surefire way to upgrade the quality and feel of your property. You can then also accessorise the different rooms with rugs, instead of being tied down to one colour carpet.
6. Prioritise the bathroom
The bathroom is going to be the most challenging part of any renovation project. Not only are the materials expensive, but you will have to hire professional plumbers and waterproofers. This is why you’ll want to dedicate a significant portion of your budget to bathroom renovations.
The bathroom can be a clear indication of your apartment’s age. So while it’s expensive, a more modern bathroom can make a huge difference and increase the value of your apartment.
7. Upgrade the kitchen
Like the bathroom, upgrading the kitchen can be an expensive process. But also like the bathroom, it’s the best way to make your place feel more modern.
Upgrading the outdated linoleum is a great start, but you can also replace the benchtop. Another way of modernising your kitchen is updating the stove to a ceramic induction cooktop. You can also replace the oven, and any appliances such as the fridge and dishwasher.
8. Lighting and airflow is important
While the windows might be permanent due to strata restrictions, you can still improve airflow and lighting in your apartment.
For example, if your property doesn’t get a lot of natural light, updating the ceiling lights can improve the overall mood of the apartment.
You might also want to consider replacing the ceiling fans with air conditioning. Not only will this improve the airflow for the whole apartment, but it gives tenants the added option of heating in the winter. Despite air cons being more expensive to run, they are certainly more appealing for those sweltering Aussie summers.
Want to learn more about renovations?
Are you planning on renovating soon? Whether it’s about home improvement loans or the most popular renovations in Australia, we’ve got a range of helpful articles on renovations.
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Written by Dan O'Sullivan
Dan O’Sullivan is a Content Intern at Jacaranda Finance. Dan has previously worked as a Junior Reporter at JACDigital and as a Media and Publicity Assistant at St. Leo’s College. He has a Bachelor of Journalism/Arts from the University of Queensland.