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Q: We are embarking on a massive DIY home make-over.

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We are using a few trade professionals but are worried about making equally massive mistakes – not just in terms of the actual work but the value-add to our property. What are the most important things we need to know or take into account?

A: To help with your project, let me debunk the five biggest home improvement beliefs: You need to go big or go home: In general, home improvements don’t give you a rand-for-rand return on investment but if you remodel key features, like the bathroom or kitchen, you can expect to increase the value of your home.

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To avoid over-capitalising, do not spend more than 10% of the total value of the property on renovations.

Renovations are quick and easy: Reality TV has created the myth that you can flip a home in 48 hours with enough budget left for a major reveal but this is not the case. The best way to avoid unnecessary expenditure, both of time and money, is to choose a reputable contractor from the start.

Upgrade in line with the latest trends: If you love a particular trend, try working it into your home in a way that is easy to change. Avoid trendy permanent materials like countertops and flooring. Buyers are typically drawn by neutral, neat homes that show signs of careful maintenance.

Swimming pools add value: Expert consensus is that pools do not add value to your home – or at least not more value than cost. Potential buyers often see pools as a liability as they are expensive to maintain and are seen as a hassle. If you want a pool, do it because you and your family want a pool, not for the value you hope to gain.

Doing it yourself is the cheapest way to renovate: There’s a big difference between installing a shelf and remodelling a kitchen. If you run into problems or, worst of all, need to hire a professional to redo everything you’ve done, you will have wasted a lot of money. Leave the big jobs to the professionals. – Graeme Steen, chief operations officer at Kandua.com

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