Renovate Now or Later?

Many friends asked me this question as they’re moving into their new home. My personal inclination is always to say “now”, before you move in and can’t be bothered to change anything because all your stuff has been moved in.

We have done this to every apartment we bought … we renovate and customize it to our way of living before we moved in. For this reason, we always include renovation cost in our whole purchase and moving budget.

There are some immediate and long-term benefits to renovating before you move in:

– You’re moving to a NEW place that suits your lifestyle and personal taste

– Lower maintenance and repair cost in the long run, because everything that was wrong with the place you bought had been corrected

– It is easier to get a contractor to commit to a larger project, changing and fixing everything before you move in, instead of having a one-man-show handyman or moonlighting contract worker do patch-up jobs at your place.

– And admit it … once you’ve moved in and all the furniture and stuff are in place, you will be complacent about the things you don’t like about the house and won’t bother fixing it. My parents are perfect example of this…. they hate their master bathroom – the shower is way to small (seriously, you can’t turn around without bumping your elbow to the shower door or the wall), the tiles are very slippery (my dad fell badly one time, breaking the plastic shower door while falling), there’s not enough ventilation so towels don’t dry and smells don’t go away for a very long time. But instead of getting a contractor to re-design the space and make it work for them, they patched up the shower door with duct tape, continued to live with bruised elbows and the damp smell, and put anti-slip mats all over the bathroom floor – making the bathroom seriously beyond ugly. It wasn’t until I get an interior designer to come and show what that space could look like with some two-week work that my parents agreed to have their bathroom totally hacked and re-built. Now they’re wondering why they didn’t do that earlier …. but I know why. It’s the “can’t be bothered” syndrome that comes with having settled down in the home 🙂

But my place is great, no renovation needed!

Some times you buy  a place where renovation is absolutely not required. That’s great! But before you move in, you should think, “Should we change the curtain? Do we need to revarnish the flooring? Should we re-paint the wall? Do all taps work and don’t need to be changed? Do we want different light fixtures on the ceiling?” Even when renovation is not needed, you may want to make the place “your own” by adding some personal touches before you move in. It takes only a few days to get these type of work done, but it can make a BIG difference to the ambiance and enjoyment of the space.

When you should NOT renovate

Having said that, I would advise you against renovating when you have maxed out your budget to purchase a house and don’t have extra cash in the bank. We don’t support the idea of getting an extra loan just for renovation. Renovation is not an asset that will bring up the price of your property, unless the place is in bad shape and you’re planning to sell it in the near future.

I hope this enlightens you, if not to renovate before you move in, at least for you to really have a thorough look at the place you’re about to move into and think, “What final touches can I add to make this place my own?”



~ by elinski on January 13, 2011.

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