We all want a nicer home but while some home renovations may better our present lifestyle, they do not necessarily increase value to your house. Though it may not mean much right now, but when it comes time to sell your house, you might wish you had modernized the kitchen rather than adding a fully fitted bar at the living room.

The first step in making the decision to renovate is whether it makes sense to renovate. You should ask yourself how long you plan to stay in the house. If it is more than 3 years, an expensive renovation may not make sense because chances are you won't be able to recover the money you put into it in a higher sales price. If it's more than 3 years, an expensive renovation does make sense because you will enjoy the improvement, and have a better chance of recouping your investment over time.

Also assess where you live as in general, the higher-priced your home and neighborhood, the more renovations will pay off. That's because homes in fancier areas tend to appreciate more, and buyers tend to appreciate what you have done more and are willing to pay for it having already been done.

So which renovations pay off? Generally, 5 renovations that do add value to your property are as follows:

1. Kitchen.
We have sold numerous houses in the kitchen. Modernizing a kitchen to be an efficient and effective kitchen definitely adds value to a house and of course makes it more saleable. Having built in cabinets and fitted hob, hood and areas designated for the fridge, microwave and oven (in some cases also for the dishwasher) really makes a big difference. Finishes for the flooring, walls and work areas that are practical to clean and are durable are preferred.

Big does not necessarily mean better but what is important is functionality.

2. Master Bedroom
The betterment of the master bedroom is also a sure bet value add to a property. The main add ons looked at are the built in cupboard, walk in wardrobes, a "suite" area for a sofa/reading area and floor and wall finishes.

If the master bedroom does not have an en-suite, then its advisable to add an en-suite bathroom, as this is a pre-requisite nowadays.

Also, built in cupboards in all the other rooms would also be a good idea.

3. Bathrooms
Times have changed and the younger more affluent generation are more discerning in their lifestyle needs. The bathroom, being an essential part of our life, is very very important in a home. General modernization to the WC"s, floor finishes and quality fittings are the main consideration in the bathrooms. The quality fittings include the WC, the sink, the taps and the shower heads.

4. Electrical and Plumbing
Older but fancier locations have homes that are at least 15 – 20 years old and the wiring and plumbing systems have almost reached their end already. These two items are very important and the most asked question when we sell residential properties.

Electrical systems are crucial these days where electrical consumption has increased due to various usage of appliances and also partly due to our liking for the aircondition. Rewiring an old house and upgrading the system is also important to ensure the safety of your family.

Poor plumbing is the ultimate frustration to those of you who enjoy a shower. Homes that have old systems are plagued by poor in-home pressure, rattling pipes and of course discolored and distasteful water. Upgrading the plumbing system will include new water tanks, water filters, new pipes, pumps and water heaters.

5. Overall Painting
The immediate "value-adder" as it is very visible. The trick is to ensure the paint job is done well and do not rush it, as a poor paint job is worse that a bad-hair day. Properties that are nice but have a poor paint job send a message to the potential purchaser that the seller is trying to hide something by doing a quick and cheap paint job.

It is like when you are selling your used car. If you show up with dents and scratches and bald tires, you are not going get top dollar for your car. But if you had the car painted and put on some new tires, you will be sure to get a better price.

In embarking in your renovations for that dream lifestyle, a good rule of thumb is not to leave too much of your own lifestyle in the house. The biggest mistake people make is do renovations that are very customized to their own wants and needs.

Previn is the Principal of Zerin Properties, a Licensed and Registered Estate Agency Service Provider. For feedback and inquiries, please call 013 3311 007 or e-mail previn@virtualrealty.com.my