It seems the golden rule when designing investment properties destined for the long term rental market is to not throw too much at them.
It also seems the resounding interpretation of this is – ‘Finish every surface in white and source the cheapest fittings and quick fixes along the way’.
What we should be chanting is – ‘Design decisions will be made factoring in on how the property is currently, will and can be used in the future to generate maximum return’.
That’s why we have put together these simple design tips for your investment property.
Like Attracts, Like
Whiting-out your property and quick-fix maintenance has all the appeal of a publicly funded asylum, impacting the quality and quantity of browsing tenants.
This method of property ‘maintenance’ creates a neat little false economy where you’ll save today, only to have to spend tomorrow and overnight you’ll affect your ability to generate consistent premium returns from your investment.
In order to attract the perfect tenant and premium rent you’re going to have to paint a pretty picture (and we’ll start with a white canvas).
When White is Right – A General Guide
– Bathroom wall tile in large format with white grout – Beware of the ‘Biscuit’ (the colour below the surface of the tile) as this could cause issues if the tile is ever chipped. Ask about the strength of the tile to ensure it’s fit for purpose and balance out the white wall tile with a contrasting matt floor tile with grey grout.
– Cabinetry – Doors, drawers and panels in white laminate with hard wearing PVC edging will stand the test of time. Two-Pac (painted), vinyl wrap and timber veneer cabinetry are usually selected for their decorative options or because those who don’t know believe more $$ equals quality or affluence by affiliation. Spend wisely and compliment the white with composite stone bench tops such as Caesar or Essa Stone in a tonal colour to give your kitchen a noticeable ‘hero’ people will pay for.
– Wall Paint – Whites are easy to patch paint, are typically cheaper and will clean up easily. A higher quality paint will require less coats, will look better for longer and will resist ‘yellowing’ over time. Each brand has its own ‘premium’ version, and in my experience Dulux Wash and Wear 101 is reliable and honest. As far as which white to choose, a warmer organic base will speak to a larger demographic and will have a lower opacity rating giving you better coverage. Paint requires mixing following a measured formula so buying from the brand rather from a re-seller will get you better colour accuracy and better after sales service if anything goes wrong.
Investing in tasteful, quality fixtures and fittings is indeed a smart investment.
Reputable brands offer reliability, service and warranty’s which guarantee years of trouble free operation.
In addition to this, careful, educated product selection in classic styles will age well, adding value now and in the future.
Fitting Fittings and Fix-less Fixtures
– Mixer Taps have fewer working parts and require less outlet piping required with hot and cold taps with spouts. Compare products and brands against market leaders such as Caroma and Irwell to get the best on the market.
– A near bullet proof flooring option is timber-look vinyl planks from the likes of Karndean and Polyflor. These products are extremely durable, financially viable, beautifully fashionable and easily replaceable (on the off chance it does deflect a stray bullet), however, if you believe carpet is desirable, polypropylene carpet in a mid tone, laid on Ultimate foam underlay will wear well and clean easily.
– Composite stone bench tops will never disappoint. Be sure to check the quartz content (the higher the better for strength) and remember slab sizes are around 3000mm x 1400mm, so when designing your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, be sure to use every last millimeter (leftover stone will make a perfect chopping board).
– When it comes to appliances, you have to do the math – Initial Cost + Warranty + Service and Parts. Most brands use the same parts sourced from two major manufacturers, so look for brand pride and heritage, basic operation, ease of daily maintenance and minimal tricky features, buttons and latches and you’ll be cooking with gas.
– Vertical blinds are the window treatment of choice for a rental because they are cheap to buy. They are also easy to break, expensive to fix, effectively useless in practice and remarkably clever at keeping the suppliers supplying and people paying. I admire the inventors for mastering the art of volume over margin in a very expensive market. Do yourself a huge favour and dress the windows in need of dressing in quality chain driven roller blinds in a wipe-down fabric in the same colour as your walls.
Keeping the design of your property simple, yet smart will go a long way to reducing future costs, therefor increasing future gain, especially if you start by looking at the typical problem areas.
As a general rule, ease of cleaning should be at the top of every design for purpose checklist along with adequate light, ventilation and air circulation teamed up with good insulation to reduce the chance of damp, mould or mildew moving in. As an added bonus this will also reduce the reliance on fans and heating/cooling systems, which will in turn prolong their life.
Smart bathroom layouts can eliminate the need for glass shower screens and clever kitchen designs minimise required cabinetry and can allow for easy retrofitting of appliances and tap ware.
She’s High Maintenance, But She’s Worth It
The best way I know to ensure your investment keeps on keeping on is to maintain it meticulously.
Use the regular inspections to inspect for irregularities, especially if the property is new or has had reno’s completed recently.
Furnish your tenants with a ‘compendium’ for the home which might include copies of user manuals for fittings and fixtures and encourage by contract or include in the lease, regular maintenance of appliances, heating/cooling systems, hot water systems and other mechanical fixtures and cleaning of ‘soft’ fixtures such as carpets and drapes.
Finally, establish an open line of communication between your tenant, property manager and yourself which allows all issues, large and small to be rectified promptly by your trusted professionals.
Do you have design tips or proven strategies you have used for your investment properties?
We’d love for you to share in the comments section below.