PROPERTY NEWS - If you long to renovate your home but have nightmares about the time, money and inconvenience involved, you are not alone. Homeowners are often anxious or even scared to begin renovation projects because so many things can go wrong.
However, their worries usually fall into one of five main categories, and there are tried-and-tested ways to deal with these, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.
"The most common fear is of course of being swindled. Unfortunately one hears all too frequently about fly-by-night home improvement contractors who cheated unsuspecting homeowners out of thousands of rand by doing shoddy work or taking money for projects they never intended to complete. But one can overcome this by working only with established companies and registered contractors who have been personally recommended or whose references and previous work you have personally checked. Their price is likely to be higher, but they will inevitably cost you less in the long run because they will try to do the job right from the start - and if they do make mistakes, will not try to make you pay for these."
The second most frequent home improvement worry is running out of money, he says, and it's a fact that most home owners do underestimate the true cost of renovating. Once a project begins, the work may also expose bad or outdated electrical wiring, leaky plumbing, termite damage and so on, and whether planned for or not, these problems will all have to be fixed.
"So to avoid unpleasant surprises, homeowners who are planning an improvement project should budget for at least 30% more than they originally estimated. They should also make sure that they have a proper contract (drawn up by their attorney if necessary) which stipulates how much they will pay at each stage of the job - and should never, ever be persuaded to part with their hard-earned money upfront."
Everitt says many homeowners also worry that after spending all that time and money, the end result may not be what they had in mind and they will have to live with the disappointing results.
"The answer to this is to go beyond a two-dimensional plan or drawing and get help to visualise what your changes will really look like. Go online to look at photographs and 3D drawings of similar projects and visit décor and home improvement shops and exhibitions to get a better idea of the real size and shape of furniture and appliances before you finalise your plan."
Fear of disruption is the fourth most common reason that owners avoid home improvements, he says. There is no escaping the fact that renovating usually does cause tremendous upheaval.
"The truth is that yes, you probably will have to put up with mess, noise and interruptions to your daily routine while the work is going on, but again, the answer is to deal with reputable, experienced contractors who understand your anxiety and will keep the disruption to the minimum - so that they can earn your word-of-mouth recommendation for the next project."
Finally, says Everitt, owners who are upgrading their properties do always need to be wary of over-capitalising. "This simply means spending more money on renovations or alterations than can be recouped on resale of the property at a later date, and it depends primarily on position. For instance, a modest home converted into a mansion will be difficult to sell at a price high enough to recoup expenses if the suburb as a whole usually only attracts middle-income buyers. Consequently, the prime rule for sensible renovation is to determine with the help of a knowledgeable agent the current top values of homes in the area, and then compare these to the value of the home to be renovated. The difference in value is the maximum sum that can safely be spent on renovations, although it might be prudent to spend even less than this. For example, if the market value of your home is R800 000 and top prices in the area are around R1-million, you should think carefully before spending more than about R150 000 on renovations."
'We bring you the latest Garden Route, Hessequa, Karoo news'