“Lipstick” renos popular as budgets tighten
October 23, 2018
More homeowners may be looking for quick “lipstick” renovations to improve homes as renovation budgets tighten.
Home renovation spending dropped to a five-year low in 2018, though 45 per cent of Canadian homeowners say they want to do home improvements, according to a survey by CIBC. The average spend is estimated at $11,000, which is down 5 per cent from a year earlier.
"Canadians continue to see the value of investing in their homes, but they’re taking a very practical approach by focusing on lower-cost projects this year," said Edward Penner, CIBC executive vice-president of personal and small business banking.
The CIBC survey of homeowners revealed tight budgeting. Only 44 per cent of respondents expect to pay for their renovation up front. One-third expect to have the work paid off within a year, while an additional 15 per cent expect it to take one year or more. Sixty-three per cent admitted to not having a budget for their upcoming projects.
If a renovation client asks for advice on how to make their house look better on a tight budget, here are some tips from those in the home investment game—professionals who pretty up homes for a quick resale or flip. They are called lipstick renovations, but they can do wonders for a tired property.
First, paint the walls. But take it a bit further and replace all moldings as the walls are painted. Moldings are inexpensive but, when replaced and painted to contrast and compliment the new wall colours they can truly improve a space.
Next, look at light and plumbing fixtures. These are remarkably easy to replace and there are contemporary designs—especially in kitchen and bath faucets—that can make an amazing impression. Stainless steel and dark bronze are currently quite popular finishes.
Light fixtures are a bit more complex, but you can completely transform the look of a room by replacing an old shabby light fixture with something new and modern. Choose them carefully and install energy-efficient LED bulbs for a special touch that is both environmentally- and wallet-friendly.
If there are built-in cabinets, shelves, and other woodwork that have clearly seen better days, re-stain them if they are sturdy pieces; re-stain and refinish anything that is a natural wood and repaint anything that was once painted.
Complete the project by sealing items with a clear finish. The sealant is very important, otherwise the stain will come off every time cabinets are cleaned with a wet sponge.
If the budget can take it—and so far it is still probably less than $4,000—consider new appliances. A modern stainless steel fridge, dishwasher and stove may nearly double the budget but could be worth it to complete a quick, inexpensive renovation that will make a kitchen appear transformed.
As a contractor in these more budget-conscious days, being known as a renovator who can make great home improvements at lower costs can keep your company busy this winter until that next substantial makeover comes along.