My friend is a huge fan of the reality TV show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. She tries to tell me some of the things that the Kardashians get up to, but I don’t really want to know nor am I interested. Though I have never watched that show before, I suspect that it is not much different from reality TV shows like Big Brother and The Real Housewives of Melbourne, where there’s a little bit of amateur acting involved and a loose script to follow. Those are not the kind or reality TV shows I like. The ones I like watching in my spare time are the home improvement shows like The Block and House Rules; the variety shows like The Voice and The X Factor; cooking shows like MasterChef Australia and My Kitchen Rules; and also The Amazing Race Australia. Of the categories I listed, I would have to say that the home improvement ones are my absolute favourite. I am always amazed and impressed by how they can take a plain and drab room and transform it into a beautiful sanctuary. Realtors will tell you that the best improvement you can do to your house before selling it is to update the kitchen and bathroom. That was exactly what my friend did when he bought an old house in Mt Waverley. Over the years, he renovated and updated first his kitchen, then his bathroom. He also replaced the old windows with new ones. Though the outside of the house looked the same as when he first bought it, the renovated kitchen and bathroom gave the house a contemporary feel from the inside. As my friend had young children, he also had a cubby house with sand pit, a trampoline and a playground set in his large backyard. His children only had to step into the backyard to enjoy their very own private playground. Besides the playground equipment, my friend had some landscaping done to the backyard, such as mulched planters along the fence line with colourful native plants. My friend was ahead of the game because he did what realtors and home improvement shows are only now talking about: that buyers like a landscaped home 11.3% more than those without good landscaping, according to a report by NBC’s Today Money. Everything my friend did to this house finally paid off when he sold it for over a $1 million this year.
According to Today Money, the sort of home improvements that can increase the value of a house are: 1) create a big backyard by growing low-maintenance ground covers instead of lawn, grow more trees because trees appreciate over time; 2) extending the dining/living area into the backyard by utilising the patio or deck area; 3) create a backyard sanctuary with a fountain, pond or hot tub and a comfortable sitting area; 4) an outdoor kitchen; 5) a year-round backyard with flowering shrubs because hedges can also increase the value of a property; 6) install solar-powered landscape lighting. Cover the children’s sand pit with a bird netting instead of a tarp because it lets the sunlight in to dry and sanitize the sand. If you cannot afford to hire a professional landscape designer to transform your backyard, then just pay them for the design and complete the job yourself like my friend did. Another feature that appeals to potential buyers is an irrigation system in the backyard to save on manual watering and to keep plants looking fresh.
There seems to be more and more people doing their own home renovations these days. I suspect that it is because of the influence of the many home improvement shows we are bombarded with on TV every week. Though I am not by any means a handyperson, even I am inspired to try my hand at landscaping my backyard to transform it into a child’s playground. I must admit I like the idea of having my own playground in the backyard; a place where the children can just hang out when they get bored indoors or when they just want to burn some energy. I wouldn’t mind having one of those spring-free trampolines or the all-in-one cubby houses with slide, fireman pole, climbing rope, rock wall, steps and sand pit. I would also extend the living area outdoors with comfortable chairs and dining table for warmer nights, much like the ones I see on these home improvement shows. Now, that sort of transformation will definitely increase the value of my house.