Give your investment property a bedroom renovation and your tenants will love you even more!

A good bedroom renovation can - and does - add value, though and doesn't have to cost the earth. Bedrooms are often the most overlooked rooms in any property people plan to rent out or to sell.

How many properties have you rented as a tenant that have dreary bedrooms?

One place I looked at once (and passed over) had navy blue bedroom walls because the owners' teenage son liked it dark while they were living there, and they didn't think to lighten it up when they moved out.

Another common bugbear for tenants almost anywhere in the world is a lack of built-in wardrobe and storage space. It's an opportunity missed for landlords everywhere, because the first thing a real-estate agent will mention about bedrooms in the rental lists is "Built-ins to all" or "BIR to all".

This means it's a feature that most tenants are looking for, and something you should definitely consider as a minimum in any bedroom renovation, right after paint and light fittings. After all, if you're a tenant that has to move around every few years (although you want to keep your good tenants as long as you can), you don't want to have to buy extra wardrobes and chests of drawers to move along with you if you can avoid it. And speaking as both a landlord and past tenant, you'll actually have trouble budging tenants from a house that has good built-ins. The last house we rented had them in every room and a big one for a linen closet in the hallway, and we fought tooth and nail to stay put until we worked out we could buy our own place, and then made built-ins the first thing on the list when it came to our own bedroom renovation.

A built-in wardrobe with mirrors helps a bedroom renovation by making it look bigger.

So if your rental property is looking a bit tired, a bedroom renovation is probably the simplest thing you can do. It can cost as little as $200 for paint, up to around $1000 if you go for putting in built-in-robes.

Here's a list:

  1. Paint. Choose a light but warm colour such as cream or a sandy neutral. Make sure it is not too yellow. Blues and some greys will make a room cold and uninviting. Average amount is about 4L for a 3m x 3m room, so maximum of $50 plus ceiling-white.
  2. Light switches and power points. Change switches and points if they are more than five or ten years old and look discoloured or cracked and broken in any way. Make sure all points are doubles. Cost: Between $30-$60 on average for a full set of nice basic switches.
  3. Light fittings. If it looks a bit rusty or has one of those frilly glass shades from the 1970s and 1980s, get rid of it. Improve on the single globe fitting on the ceiling and install a sleek oyster fitting or something appropriate to the style of the house (if the property has some heritage, this is vital!). Keep the glass white or clear and usually frosted. Install something that fits two standard-sized flouro globes (not the tiny ones, which have no guts) and fit them in warm white, not daylight globes, as the daylight makes people and spaces look quite ill. Simple but stylish fittings can cost between $20-$60 if you shop around, but again, be prepared to spend a bit more if the property is a character building.
  4. Built-in Wardrobes. An essential addition in any bedroom renovation, you can buy DIY kits from large hardware and home stores, or have them professtionally measured and fitted for as little as $600 with sliding mirrored doors. Remember to keep the colour light (white or cream) and consider mirrored doors for really small spaces as they make the room feel larger and provide your tenants with something to get dressed in front of.
  5. Curtains and blinds. Often overlooked in a bedroom renovation, curtains and blinds are actually quite important in a bedroom because you're likely to be placing restrictions on what people can screw into walls. Use quality venetian blinds (timber if you can get them as they stay looking nicer for longer) for blocking the light. Avoid verticals as they deteriorate very quickly in the sun and get caught and broken all too easily. At the very least, provide a fitted curtain rod in black or silver powder-coat (costs between $10-20 including simple finials) over the window so that tenants have the option of hanging their own curtains, or finish the look with some neutral cotton or linen-look curtains from a discount store for as little as $30.

It's been mentioned elsewhere, but a bedroom renovation can also include an ensuite bathroom if the space allows, and can add significantly to the rent you receive. A space as little as 3m x 1m at one end of a room can suffice and you can fit it for as little as $2000, if the budget allows.

I hope this takes the fear out of adding a bedroom renovation to your investment property, even if you have to spend most of your budget elsewhere!

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