How much renovation work to do?


I just bought a 3 bed semi d in a small Midlands town within 80kms of Dublin for what I consider to be a very competitive price of 75,000. It is in reasonable condition as it is and I am looking to sell it within 6-9 months and make as much money as possible.

In order to achieve this should I

a) do nothing and wait until after Christmas to flip it as prices are continuing to increase
b) carry out minor improvements e.g paint it throughout, put in decent light fittings, blinds, curtains etc
c) do all of the work outlined in b) above and also put in a new heating system (there’s only a back boiler there at the moment), retile the bathroom, install new kitchen, put down new floors and carpets (kitchen, floors and bathroom are all clean and ok - just a bit dated)

Thanks in advance for any comments/suggestions


I’m no expert on this, but my vote goes to ©. It will obviously cost the most, but it will maximise the amount of potential buyers (some people not having any money left over for renovations after having met mortgage criteria) and, thereby, drive the resale price higher.

It might warrant a detailed analysis of the purchase prices of similar houses in the locality that are in good condition, to see whether the maximum resale value warrants the investment. (I appreciate it’s not always possible to get interior views of houses on the ppr.)


Ask the estate agent who you intend to have sell it.

I’m guessing they’ll focus on cosmetics.


What’s the current BER ?


The BER is E2


Buying/selling legals / sales costs/stamp duty / taxes (which I’m assuming you’ll pay (beware flipping a house quickly on the basis of making it your PPR) makes it unlikely you’ll get anything out of a property selling at even double what you bought it for (assuming you’ve other costs to put into it.

If you’re in no hurry then you’ll earn by sitting upon it, which doesn’t preclude you doing it up as well. Just keep an eye on price rises and don’t hold out til the very end when it will be, like last time, too late.

If your talented at interior design and layout then you can dress it up very well and make money on whatever you input. If your initial bent is paint it magnolia then steer clear of this option and do the basics.

Things that matter = although maybe not recoupable at your target selling price

  • get the BER up in the D’s. That’s the threshold for selling, D’s not being off putting. No return to be had aiming much higher, unless it’s easily and cheaply obtained

  • paint the whole place. If you only paint some, the rest will look tatty. Pick some nice, contemporary colours. Greys and stone colours, though done to death, are still considered de rigeur by punters right down the food chain. Try matt finishs (except in the kitchen and bathroom). They hide imperfections better and look better than sheens. Use a slightly off white cream on the ceilings and woodwork. Woodwork in eggshell - again, good for hiding imperfections and adding a bit of class

  • new faceplates on sockets/light switches, new ceiling roses if there’s any doubt as to condition.

  • if the kitchen is decent, paint the doors or replace them with something contemporary (not wood). A solid wood countertop is a good step up from the cheapo stuff if that’s what’s there. If there’s a ratty old hob then that ought to go if it can’t be made decent. Kitchens sell to many women.

  • boiler is a cost/benefit gig. You’ll be asked for certs so will have to pay a registered installer (though you can get grants back on this). Really depends on your selling price. Oh, spray the rads a cream colour: add’s a bit of class by taking that domestic appliance white look off the place. Dump the clip on grills that adorn most modern cheap rads if they are there.

  • floor coverings can tot up so you’ve again to ask whether there’s a return. Even a cheap felted carpet for the beds and stairs could set you back 1500. Ditto tiles

  • clean the place from top to bottom inside and out. You wouldn’t think it but a sparkling house does make a difference, especially since most houses most people see are either being lived in and dirty or moved out of and even worse.


Many thanks York for your detailed reply. I just have a few more questions and comments arising from your post.

The buying and selling legals will only be 4k. Stamp duty another 600. Sales cost about 2.5k. So all in about 7k. Why do you think I should be wary of flipping a house on the basis of making it my PPR with a view to avoiding CGT?


I have no design skills so I just intend to do the basics.


I rang him yesterday morning and left a message with his secretary giving the name and address of the property I intend to sell. Over 24 hours later, I’m still waiting for a response so I doubt I’ll be using him.


Google “badges of trade”. In short it means that if what your doing has the characteristics of an attempt at a trade/investment, the PPR exemption is overridden. Revenue effectively see what you’re doing for what it is and pull off your PPR figleaf

CGT plus fines and interest follow. An obvious badge of trade would be buying the house today, doing it up over a few months and selling next spring.

Loft insulation is relatively cheap and impacts significantly on BER.

Blocking up unused chimneys, if there’s a secondary source of heating around (a stove or central heating), gives a good boost.

Some targeted wall insulation might be required to get any substantial increase over the above. Low energy lightbulbs and the like are nickel and dime territory - useful only if you’re shy a few points.

You could get a BER assessor in to assess the place now (since you’re going to have to do the BER for your eventual sale, in the event you improve the BER). Have him advise you on what measures will provide the rating you seek. Get him to delay actually submitting for a cert, demonstrate to him that the improvements he suggests have been done (agree at the off what evidence he requires), then have him submit for a cert. It means you only pay for one BER cert. Make sure he understands what you’re asking when booking him. My own guy does it no prob (as he gets repeat business) but not all need be as accommodating

You need to get your strategy sorted first. Are you going to go for a walk in condition, which attracts a premium on your input. A good strategy in Dublin, but questionable at your sale price. What does walk in get you for other houses that have sold in the estate?

My own view is that appearances in a marginal case are the first priority vs. deep work. Get the place looking really nice, modern and clean cut … but cut back on expenditure for anything that lies beyond the surface. The example given of a nice colour on the kitchen doors with a new wooden countertop will get you 75% of the impact of a brand new kitchen for perhaps 25% of the cost. If the kitchen floor tiles really let it down, then there’s no point in pimping the kitchen and leaving the tiles. You’ve to make sure the whole reaches an even standard with as little as possible left to remind where the place is coming from.

Consider the boiler as a stand alone issue. How much to fit and if fitted, will get a return in terms of being nearer to walk in / BER impact (you might be able to drop something else you’d have to do otherwise to achieve a D and offset this against the boiler) /

Clear out any sign of tat, paint all woodwork (except something that really looks good in wood like modern doors / old stripped four panel door. Feck out diy attempts at shelving / built in wardrobes that look bockety and cheap. Clean lines, neat and tidy. Nothing to offend the eye. Blank canvas.

The finished look views better in photos and during viewings. If wood then perhaps a lick with a sander and stain to provide a finished floor. Bare, unfinished floorboards drag things down.

You have to take a bit of a punt. Either go for an overall, even upgrade in appearance ata BER D or leave alone and let the market rise + your having bought a bargain earn you the money. I don’t see the point in a halfway solution.

Cheaper to ask around and find someone locally who has a demon eye for dirt - someone who really takes pleasure in cleaning (they exist!). Your going to be looking for people who work for cash.

You also need to pick an agent who can take a good photo - look at the ads of other houses. Who does a good job?

Get every agent in the area to value it when it’s done, you can get huge shifts in valuations. Pick the appropriate launch date (after Easter or early september) and away you go!


Here’s my tuppence worth, speaking as a fairly recent buyer and female - paint it and deep clean it, put in clean, neutral carpets. Consider loft insulation to improve BER. New heating system also might be welcome to many. I’d be wary of insulation types that can’t be easily undone (e.g. wall or spray-on foams). People can have different opinions on insulation and might want to make their own decisions on that.

What I wouldn’t bother with - redoing the kitchen and bathroom. As a buyer, I found most new bathrooms and kitchens a turnoff because they were by and large too blingy or too bland for my taste. Excessive tiling is another thing that’s difficult to undo and not everyone is a fan of tiles. When I viewed houses with brand new bathrooms and kitchens it always annoyed me that a premium was being factored into the price for a design that mightn’t suit us and fittings that we didn’t like. I’d rather have the price reduced a little and choose my own fittings.

Oh yeah, and I second getting rid of fitted wardrobes. Give the buyer the clean blank canvas they want.


Thanks again for your valuable input York - it’s great to get such feedback


Thanks for your comments - all very interesting


This is for a complete heating system I take it? This back boiler you talked about doing just hot water along with an immersion, presumably.

Check out the grant situation. I got something like 1200 back on just a boiler/control install recently. I couldn’t have bought the materials alone for what I paid in the end. An over the books install will improve the guarantee confidence aspect as well. Something to be promoted come sale time There’s the Home Improvement Grant gig to be considered, it getting VAT back. Have you checked that out?

I wouldn’t bother with curtains, to be honest. Sorting unfinished floorboards, yes.

Hard to know without seeing what can be made of the bathroom. If you’re fortunate enough to have white tiles then you could do something like this.–modern-edwardian-bathroom-modern-edwardian-interiors.jpg

If you’re handy, you wouldn’t go far wrong sticking up some metro tiles around the bath. Done to death of course, but there’s life in that old dog yet! Or change a plastic bath side panel for some tongue and groove painted the colour of the walls? Good return for not a lot of work.

There’s a general tip to be had out of that bathroom btw - one that can be applied to good effect elsewhere. See how they’ve painted everything the same colour to eliminate/suppress a clutter of different coloured/textured surfaces?

Typical examples would be the wooden box covering the electricity meter in a hall being painted white, with the walls painted a different colour. Or a white plastic room vent standing out like a sore thumb. Paint them the same colour as the walls and suppress what’s ugly / unify and simplify the look. Too many doors in a room? Paint one or more of them the same colour as the walls to suppress and give the illusion of an unbroken wall. Within reason, try to get each room (bar the flooring) down to two colours: woodwork/ceiling/maybe door/radiator = one colour, everything else = the other colour



If profit is your motive then you should aim to let it.

Gross yield on a property like this would easily be 10%.


Quick profit is my motive - I will need need the money to buy a place in Dublin in April/May next year as I can’t get a decent mortgage until then.


Good luck.

But property prices do not always move one way - read some old threads!


Just an update on this and a further question .

I painted the house throughout - including the kitchen presses - installed a new boiler, put new carpet on the states and sanded the wooden floors. Didn’t do anything with the tiles or bathroom. Very happy with how it’s going so far. The garden out back isn’t in great condition - it’s just tarmaced - and what’s worse is that the state of the neighbours on one side is pretty appalling - all that’s between the two is a very badly broken fence… So my question is should I

  1. Put new wooden panels up around the entire garden, which would cost about 1.5k in total - there would be no concreting involved
  2. Build a 15m wall between my house and the dodgy neighbours and leave the rest of the garden as it is - it would cost about 2.5k
  3. Do nothing

Thanks in advance


I would buy mature bamboo trees, about 3 metres high, approx €75 each. They will screen off the dodgy neighbours and look a lot better than those awful panels.


Thanks for that. How many would you need do you think?