First impressions count, says landscape designer Sandra Batley.
Make Your Property Stand Out
If two similar neighbouring houses were for sale and one had a well-designed garden, that one would sell faster. In fact, it is often literally the first thing potential buyers look at. It wasn’t that long ago the garden was usually left until last, or completely overlooked when renovating the inside of the home, for ways to add value. Well these days things are a little different.
Talk to the Professionals
Your home might be your biggest asset, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the more money you invest in it, the more money you’ll get in return. Before you embark on any project, you’ll need to talk to the professionals. Depending on what you want to do, you might need advice from a landscape designer or architect (if it’s a structural undertaking). Adding value is the new thing to do, but how best to spend your hard-earned cash is the question.
Garden Improvements Pay Off
When it comes to your garden a couple of deck chairs, a lemon tree and a bit of lawn just won’t cut it these days. More Kiwis want a comfortable outdoor living space, a retreat to entertain and relax in and are prepared to pay for it. My clients frequently ask whether renovating their back yards will add value to their property. In my experience, a lot of the gardens I have created and built have been a major contributing factor in the marketing and selling of the house for the owners.
Getting a house valuation before and after the work is done will give you a good indication of the value added. In a television series, landscaping was placed 4th out of 10 for top value-adding projects. With land and house prices still at a premium it’s wise to maximize the outdoor area and create exterior living spaces with street appeal, functionality and saleability that appeals to a wide audience.
The sky isn’t the limit, so it’s worth finding out what your property is worth and its maximum value. Talk to your local real estate agent. The trick is not to overspend and pay over the odds on changes that won’t be reflected in the eventual market price. Keep the scale and costs of any work in proportion to the overall value. This goes for all value-adding projects both inside and out for your home.
Do Your Homework
- Have a plan on paper, or at least in your head. It’s easy to get carried away and tear down every tree and structure on the property.
- Think the project through carefully. Employ the services of a landscape designer to get you started if you are stuck for ideas or need some inspiration.
- Talk to real estate agents and your local council to get a run down on what’s possible or impossible for your property and relevant to the area you live in.
Add Structural Value
Functional hard landscaping features such as pergolas, decks, fencing and a carport-garage are some of the best ways maximize the use of the garden and add value. Decks create extensions of your living areas; outdoor fencing provides privacy and security and a garage provides security and storage for your car and belongings. All are very valuable assets.
These are, however, usually high-ticket items so get a few quotes first and see if it still fits within your budget. Getting a garage or carport built is likely to be a big job, so make sure you’ve got the money and time to see it through. You could save on labour costs if you build it yourself. Just remember, a botched job will end up devaluing your property rather than adding value. Consents and building permits will also be required for a lot of this work. Check with your local council for all regulations.
You can lift the exterior of your home even if you are on a tight budget. A little bit of money can go a long way if you prioritise and opt for features that are functional rather than aesthetic.
Create Extra Space
- Clear some space. Prune or remove trees that have become too big for the space or are blocking valuable light. Take trees out that may be taking up space for more valuable things, such as a new patio or extended lawn.
- Patio or courtyards are best covered to provide shade and protection from the rain. This will maximize the benefits of living outdoors all year round.
- Add extra parking space; if you have suitable space this is also a very effective way to add value.
- Open up or enlarge existing areas to create an entertainment area. Having outdoor living areas flowing easily from indoors is a highly effective way of adding value.
Before You Start Check Out These Suggestions
- Don’t do anything you don’t have the time or money to maintain.
- Swimming pools and spas don’t always add value; people can see them as a lot of work.
- Don’t focus on the backyard before the front. Create street appeal first. If the front of the house doesn’t look good but the back is incredible, prospective buyers might not even get to the back.
- Don’t over plant. Plants cost money and don’t under estimate lawn space. With diminishing house and garden sizes, families see a lot of benefit and value in having a nice lawn to enjoy.
- Appeal to a wider audience. Do not add expensive features that are luxury items only e.g. fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and elaborate water features, spend your money more wisely
Simple Tricks to Revitalize Your House and Garden
- Re-plant existing garden beds with colourful plants to freshen up a tired part of the garden. Work with the environment you have, ie hot and dry or shady and wet. Native plants are easy to maintain and adapt well to local conditions.
- Plant trees for screening or privacy, this is a cost effect way of creating a living fence or screen.
- Make sure letterboxes, fences, pathways and entranceways are spic and span. A lick of paint will freshen up the dullest feature. Water-blast mossy decks, fences, dirty paths and driveways. No one likes to see grubbiness inside or out.
- Create a stylish, welcoming entrance using superb pots and great looking plants.
- Remove any plants that are past their used by date.
- Screen off parts of the garden that will distract you from the good stuff, i.e. clotheslines, sheds and bad views.
- Dress up existing courtyard spaces with stylish outdoor furniture, feature pots and plants.
- If you have a rental property, keep things very simple. You will need to strike a balance between creating an inviting, enjoyable space for your tenants to enjoy living in and not giving them, or yourself, too much work to do to maintain it.
Quality landscape design and installation, whether you DIY or get in the professionals, will add value to your property and help it sell faster. In my experience it has been a successful and rewarding process to go through.
Sandra Batley of Flourish is a multi award-winning landscaper designer based in Auckland, with a passion for people, plants and design. Visit Sandra at www.flourishgardens.co.nz