Adding value to your property

First impressions – make your property stand out

If two similar neighbouring houses were for sale and one had a great designed garden, that one would sell faster. In fact, it is often literally the first thing potential buyers look at and are drawn to.

It may sound like common sense, but it wasn’t that long ago that the garden was usually left until last or completely overlooked in preference for renovating the inside of the home for ways to add value… well these days things are a little different.

Do your research

Your home might be your biggest asset, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the more money you invest in it, the more money you’ll get in return. Before you embark on any project, you’ll need to check out a few things first. Talk to the professionals. Depending on what you want to do, you might need advice from a landscape designer/architect (if it’s a structural undertaking). Adding value is the new thing to do, but how best to spend your hard-earned cash is the question.

Spending wisely

The sky isn’t the limit, so it’s worth finding out what your property is worth and its maximum value. Talk to your local real estate agent. The trick is not to overspend and pay over the odds on changes that won’t be reflected in the eventual market price. Keep the scale and costs of any work in proportion to the overall value. This goes for all value adding projects both inside and out for your home.

Find budgeting advice here

Which garden improvements pay off

When it comes to your garden a couple of deck chairs , a lemon tree and a bit of lawn just won’t cut it these days. More Kiwis want a comfortable outdoor living space, a retreat to entertain and relax in and are prepared to pay for it. My clients frequently ask whether renovating their back yards will add value to their property. In my experience, a lot of the gardens I have created and had built have been a major contributing factor in the marketing and selling of the house for the owners. Getting a house valuation before and after the work is done will give you a good indication of the value added. In a recent television series, landscaping was placed 4th out of 10 for top value adding projects. With land and house prices at a premium it’s wise to maximize the outdoor area and create exterior living spaces with street appeal, functionality and saleability which appeal to a wide audience.

Here are some do’s and don’ts when renovating your outdoors.


Do your homework:

  • Have a plan on paper, or at least in your head. It’s easy to get carried away and tear down every tree and structure on the property. For advice on creating a design brief click here
  • Think the project through carefully. Employ the services of a landscape designer to get you started if you are stuck for ideas or need some inspiration.
  • Talk to real estate agents and your local council to get a run down on what’s possible or impossible for your property and relevant to the area you live in.

Create extra space:

  • Clear some space. Prune or remove trees that have got too big for their space or are blocking out valuable light. Take trees out that may be taking up space for other more valuable things such as a new patio area or extended lawn.
  • Open up or enlarge existing areas to create an entertainment area. Having outdoor living areas flowing easily from the indoors is a highly effective way of adding value.
  • Patio or courtyards are best covered to provide shade and protection from the rain. This will maximize the benefits of living outdoors all year round.
  • Add extra parking space; if you have suitable space this is also a very effective way to add value.

Be practical:

There are some simple things you can do to lift the exterior of your home if you are on a tight budget. Even a little bit of money can go a long way if you prioritize and opt for features that are functional rather than purely aesthetic.

  • Re-plant existing garden beds with colourful plants to freshen up a tired part of the garden. Do work with the environment you have and use native plants, as they are less expensive to maintain.
  • Plant trees for screening or privacy, this is a cost effect way of creating a living fence or screen.
  • Make sure letterboxes, fences, pathways and entranceways are spic and span. A lick of paint revitalizes the dullest feature. Water-blast mossy decks, fences, dirty paths and driveways. Remember, no one likes to see grubbiness inside or outside.
  • Create a stylish, welcoming entrance using superb pots and great looking plants.
  • Remove any plants that are past their used by date.
  • Screen off parts of the garden that will distract you from the good stuff, i.e. clotheslines, sheds and bad views.
  • Dress up existing courtyard spaces with stylish outdoor furniture , feature pots and plants.
  • If you have a rental property, keep things very simple. You will need to strike a balance between creating an inviting, enjoyable space for your tenants to enjoy living in and not giving them or yourself too much work to do to maintain it.

Built structures:

Functional hard landscaping features such as pergolas, decks, fencing and a carport-garage are some of the best ways maximize the use of the garden and add value. Decks create extensions of your living areas; outdoors, fencing provides privacy and security and a garage provides security and storage for your car etc. All are very valuable assets.

These are however, usually high-ticket items so get a few quotes first and see if it still fits within your budget . Getting a garage or carport built is likely to be a big job, so make sure you’ve got the money and time to see it through. You could save on labour costs if you build it yourself. But remember, a botched job will end up devaluing rather than adding value. Consents and building permits will also be required for a lot of this work. Check with your local council for all regulations.


  • Don’t do anything you don’t have the time or money to maintain.
  • Swimming pools and spas won’t add value; people see them as a lot of work.
  • Don’t focus on the backyard before the front. Create street appeal first. If the front of the house doesn’t look good but the back is incredible, prospective buyers might not ever get to the back.
  • Don’t over plant. Plants cost money and don’t under estimate lawn space. With diminishing house and garden sizes families see a lot of benefit and value in having a nice lawn to enjoy.
  • Appeal to a wider audience. Do not add features that are luxury items only e.g. fireplaces, outdoor kitchens and elaborate water features.

Quality landscape design and installation whether you DIY or get in the professionals will add value to your property and help it sell faster. In my experience it has been a successful and rewarding process to go through.

Sandra Batley Dip LD


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