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Renovation industry is doing well in Cape Town

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People change and fix their homes for investment, to let, and for their own living pleasure

Home renovations are continuing unabated in Cape Town, with investment buyers, in particular, upgrading properties either to let or resell at a profit.

Many owners are upgrading their homes for their own enjoyment and to implement water-saving measures.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most common areas to be overhauled, although many owners are also looking at full home renovations, says Philip Scheltens, managing owner of The Renuvators Home Makeovers.

Many of the company’s makeovers are taking place in the central and southern suburbs. Projects have ranged in price from R80 000 for a basic bathroom renovation to R1.5 million for a complete house makeover.

Scheltens says many people renovate so they can let their properties, especially smaller apartments. Others upgrade properties they have just bought. Work includes painting and bathroom and kitchen refurbishments. 

Some people renovate to improve the property’s value. 

Fix up or buy new? It all depends, says expert

“With older houses you still have the kitchen in a separate room. The trend is to open up the living/dining/kitchen area and create an open-plan space. Almost 90% of our kitchen renovations involve knocking out a wall.”

The need to save water is seeing rainwater tank installations, hot water reticulation systems, and grey water systems that feed the toilet cisterns.

Environmental awareness has “never been more important”, and sustainable materials have increased in popularity, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

“This is evident in the use of sustainable materials such as bamboo, solar tiles, sustainable concrete, triple-glazed windows and various woods.”

But of all home renovations, investment property makeovers appear to be increasing the most, estate agents say. Adel Louw, owner of Chas Everitt International franchises that serve the Atlantic Seaboard, City Bowl and the northern suburbs, says there has been an increase in inquiries for older homes and flats of up to R3m that can be “flipped” – done up and let or sold.

A recent Lightstone report showed that while flipping is still popular among investment buyers, it reached its highest levels between 2003 and 2005.

For non-investment owners, the trend is to renovate after buying new homes, as opposed to renovating before homes are sold, which Louw says is not recommended unless properties are in very bad condition.

Renovation romance

“It is better to present the home well, set a market-related asking price, get it sold and spend the renovation money on your new home,” she says.

Renovations are usually best done to make homes better for their current owners and families who are planning to live in the homes and enjoy the changes. 

In addition to Cape Town companies and agents reporting a trend of renovations, the FNB/BER Building Confidence Index has revealed that almost all building sub-sectors in South Africa have reported increased confidence during the first quarter of 2018.

This includes architects, main contractors, sub-contractors such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters and shopfitters, manufacturers of building materials like cement, bricks and glass, and retailers of building materials and hardware. Only quantity surveyors reported lower confidence, says John Loos, property economist at FNB.

Among all sectors, the biggest increase in confidence was among building material manufacturers.

“While the higher confidence was supported by better domestic sales and production, it was the export indices – export sales and export order volumes – which provided the biggest lift,” says Loos. But he says the confidence of building material manufacturers is “notoriously volatile”.

Hardware retailer confidence moved higher for the third consecutive quarter, while sales volumes and orders also increased.

“Along with the tangible improvement in sales and orders, hardware retailers also feel that business conditions are noticeably better than this time last year.”

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