Now is a really good time to do some renovations to your home: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data in March 2021 shows lending for renovations rose to its highest level since 2009, and the number of construction loans to owner-occupiers in the three months February 2021 was 43.0% higher than the previous quarter.
As many as two-thirds of homeowners said they planned to do some kind of renovation in 2020, and this trend looks set to continue. But what should you renovate in your house, you ask? Well, winter is coming, so why not take a look at modifying your house to be a bit more accommodating to lower temperatures.
Here are some of the best renovations you can do to prepare yourself for this winter season.
A new coat of paint
This might not be one of the first things you think of when it comes to winter renovations, but a new coat of paint can make a real difference to how cool or warm your house is. Although painting in extreme colours is generally not recommended, lighter and neutral colours can keep a room bright during the day and make a room slightly warmer.
Although the difference won’t be large, different coats of paint can influence your home’s temperature. Just try to avoid doing the actual painting during winter, as colder temperatures can result in a worse finish.
New insulation and lighting
It’s no secret a lot of Australian homes aren’t well insulated against the cold (see: The Queenslander), but having poor insulation can really cost you. According to Sustainability Victoria, up to 45-55% of heating and cooling energy can be saved by improving the insulation in your home, while improving insulation can also return up to 83% of the cost, a 2019 survey found.
Adding new insulation like reflective, bulk and double-glazed insulation can do wonders for your comfort and home value. New lighting can also do this, and getting new lighting or even a change in window positions can be a relatively cheap way of improving your home’s energy efficiency while you’re blasting the heater.
In addition to new lighting, installing a solar panel - which can cost thousands of dollars - could save you tens of thousands over the life of the average home loan, and solar hot water can also supply up to 90% of your hot water, leading to massive savings on your water bill.
New wooden floors and carpets
According to that 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, replacing old wooden floors and old carpet for new versions of either can provide a 106% return on investment on average. While you might think carpets are warmer and more comfortable, it’s not always the case, as hardwood floors trap less moisture than carpets.
If you’re really feeling like splashing out, underfloor heating can also be a great addition to the home, particularly in colder areas.
A new bathroom
Renovating your bathroom can be expensive - the Housing Industry Association's (HIA) 2019 Kitchens and Bathrooms Survey found the average bathroom renovation costs $17,522. But the bathroom is one of your most-used rooms, and with the cold weather seeping in, you might be a bit more likely to take a long shower in the morning or a nice warm bath.
Installing modern features like heat lamps, a heated towel rack, underfloor heating or even just a bigger shower or bath could be a great winter addition to your home.
A new kitchen
New kitchens are also one of the most common renovations, and as one of the most used rooms in the house, the kitchen could be an ideal renovation to do during winter. The average cost for a full kitchen renovation is $26,280 (not including appliances) according to HIA, and adding extra space, bench lighting, new tiles, and a fresh coat of paint could all make your kitchen more comfortable to use in the cold, and can also add some serious value to the property.
A new heating system
Although you might struggle to get your money back on installing a new air conditioner or heating system, this renovation could be a lifesaver during winter, even if it adds to your power bill. HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems) usually account for about 30% of energy use, so if you’re going to install one of these, make sure you get a good price for one and it’s energy-efficient.
You could be very grateful you chose to install a new heating system or replace an old one when you’re no longer freezing in your own home, and these types of improvements regularly feature at the top of would-be buyers' lists when the time comes to sell the place.
Top tips for renovating in winter
The most important thing you can do when renovating for the winter months is to start before it gets cold. Things like heaters, carpets, insulation and underfloor heating will be much more in-demand in colder months, and will therefore be more expensive in most cases. Not only will they be more expensive, but it can be harder to find a good contractor to do the renovations.
Completing them before winter has come is the smart thing to do, as the colder and damper conditions can also make it harder for builders and contractors to get things done. There are also a lot of things you can do that don’t require you to pay for a renovation, like cleaning your gutters, servicing your boilers, water tanks and pipes, clearing air-conditioners and heaters of dust and pollen, and so on.
When deciding what to add to your home, it’s crucial to budget your renovations first, making sure you can afford them, and then clearly communicating what you want to a contractor or builder to reduce the chances of something going wrong. Don’t go over budget, and try to avoid paying for renovations you don’t really need - see our list of home renovations that don’t always add value.
How to pay for your winter renovation
New data from 2020 found the average Aussie spent more than $63,000 on their renovations, which is quite a lot, enough to get a new kitchen, bathroom and maybe even some more rooms as well. This might be too little to get a new home loan for, but can also be too much for a personal loan or to save up for. So how do you pay for it?
To fund your upcoming winter renovations now, check out some of loans.com.au’s low rate construction loans, or see what you can do with the equity in your home loan by refinancing to loans.com.au or by checking your existing home loan with us. You can speak with one of our expert lending specialists to learn more about how loans.com.au can help you deck out your home to spend Australian winters in comfort.