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Tips for a DIY home revamp

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Sprucing up your property needn’t cost a fortune, especially if you have a handyperson around

Home improvements are a great way to add value to a property but with major renovations too expensive for many homeowners, DIY is the way to go.

Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable ways to spruce up your home over a weekend, says David Jacobs, a regional manager for the Rawson Property Group.

His favourites include:

Kitchen facelifts

Kitchens are known for their impact on a home’s value, so clever updates here can give a lot of bang for your buck. Jacobs suggests concentrating on external surfaces like countertops and cabinet doors, which are easy to refurbish without professional help.

Cabinet doors

“Modern buyers definitely prefer light and bright kitchens and repainting old, dark cabinets a lighter or more modern colour can really open up a space.”

Solid wooden cupboard doors can be sanded down using a palm sander before painting, while melamine cabinets need to be primed with a special primer before they can be painted.

“Remove the doors from the cabinets and take off all the handles and hinges before sanding and painting. Use a foam roller with water-based enamel paint for the smoothest and most long-lasting finish.”


Great countertops make a big difference to both a kitchen’s appearance and the cooking experience, and while granite, Caesarstone and marble counters are always favourites, they cost a fair bit and need to be installed by professionals. Timber and Formica, however, are easier to work with – and more affordable – for the DIY family and can be just as attractive if they’re installed well, Jacobs says.

When selecting a Formica finish, he recommends avoiding dated options like faux granite or marble.

“Modern wood grains and minimalist textures give the best results. A square edge profile, rather than the traditional quarter-round, can also add a more contemporary flavour.”

For the adventurous DIYer, there are also options like casting their own concrete countertops.

“Just keep in mind the general style of your home and make sure your countertop choice enhances its surroundings,” he advises.

Your garage

Garages might not seem like the most important part of a home but Jacobs says homeowners can add a lot of value to their property by turning them into more functional spaces.

“Garages are often underutilised. They’re ideal spaces for adding extra storage – very important to a lot of buyers – and can often accommodate a mini workbench or laundry area.”

While adding a laundry corner to your garage would require a plumber, storage is an “easy weekend” DIY for the handyperson in your home.

“You can buy ready-made cupboards and shelves from your local hardware store but budget-conscious DIYers can also try second-hand websites to find old kitchen cabinets to mount on their garage walls.”

For those with less space, Jacobs says hanging storage might be a better option.

“Try pegboard walls with hooks for holding everything from bicycles to lawnmowers and secateurs,” he says.

Update outdoors

Garden spaces are very popular with buyers but more emphasis is being put on ease of maintenance.

“Water-hungry lawns and labour-intensive plant beds are falling out of favour but outdoor entertainment areas are in high demand. Homeowners with a flair for DIY could do well to combine these two trends by adding paved or gravel sections to their garden, and possibly a pergola or a built-in braai,” he says.

While paving might be hard work, it is DIY friendly, as is the basic brickwork required for a simple braai.

Construction plans for braais and timber pergolas can be found online and all supplies are available at your local hardware store.

“Remember, low maintenance doesn’t mean bare of all greenery and life – try to at least keep a border of plants or creepers and definitely preserve any mature trees.”

Restyle your bathroom

Bathrooms can be tricky for a DIYer to totally revamp, but Jacobs says even small updates can make a big difference here.

“Try a fresh coat of paint on your walls and ceilings and replace old-school towel rails and accessories with more modern versions. You can also refinish your bathroom cabinets or replace your vanity entirely. Adding a few stylish mirrors or display shelves can be a great idea as well.”

He adds: “Retiling makes a huge difference but it’s a pretty big DIY. If you’re not up for a project of that scale, you could consider refinishing your existing tiles using the specially formulated tile paints now available.”

However, homeowners who choose to paint their tiles must follow the instructions very closely. For the best finish, avoid areas like shower enclosures that get wet regularly, Jacobs says.


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