Value-adding DIYs for handy home owner

Home improvements are a great way to add value to your property, but not everyone has bottomless pockets for full-on renovations. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable DIY projects that can spruce things up over a weekend.

David Jacobs, Gauteng regional manager for the Rawson Property Group, shares his favourite DIY home improvement ideas.

Kitchen facelifts

Kitchens are renowned for their impact on the value of a home, and Jacobs says clever updates in this area can give a lot of bang for your buck. He suggests DIYers concentrate on external surfaces like counter tops and cabinet doors, which are easy to refurbish without professional help.

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

Solid wood 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’ll be ready to paint. Remember to remove the doors from the cabinets and take off all the handles and hinges before sanding and painting. Use a foam roller with a water-based enamel paint for the smoothest and long-lasting finish.

“Attractive, functional counter tops make a big difference to a kitchen’s appearance and the cooking experience,” says Jacobs. “Granite, Caesarstone and marble counters are always favourites, but they do cost a fair bit and need to be installed by professionals. Timber and Formica are much more approachable – and affordable – for the DIY family, and can be just as attractive if they’re chosen and installed well.”

When selecting a Formica finish, Jacobs 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 also adds a more contemporary touch,” he says.

For the more adventurous, there are also options like casting your own concrete counter tops. Just keep in mind the general style of your home, and make sure your counter top choice enhances its surroundings.

The garage

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

“Garages are often underutilised,” says Jacobs. “They’re ideal spaces for adding extra storage – something that is very important to a lot of buyers – and can often accommodate a workbench or a laundry area with a little planning.”

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,” says Jacobs, “but budget-conscious DIYers can also try second-hand websites to find old kitchen cabinets to mount along their garage walls.”

For those with less available space, hanging storage may be a better option. Try pegboard walls with hooks for holding everything from bicycles to lawnmowers and secateurs.

Update outdoors

Garden spaces are still very popular with buyers, but Jacobs says a bigger emphasis is being put on ease of maintenance.

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

While paving may 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,” says Jacobs, “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 may be tricky 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-fashioned 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.

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

If you do decide to paint your tiles, just remember to follow the instructions very closely. For the best finish, avoid areas like shower enclosures that regularly get wet.