As we move towards greater density in our capital cities, more of us are turning to apartment living. Along with older pre war purpose built residential buildings, the late 90s saw the start of a spate of factory and warehouse conversions, with kitchens that are now due for renewal. But before you dive into a renovation of this key part of your home, it’s worth taking stock with a few expert tips.
WHY AM I HERE?
Considering what you want to achieve by renovating or updating your kitchen is sometimes overlooked by homeowners. Is this property your home or an investment? Is it large enough to entertain or is it your pied a terre or love nest? Understanding what you want to get out of a renovation will help set your style and budget – and get the outcome you’re looking for.
DON’T MOVE, IMPROVE
Unlike a freestanding house, it’s quite difficult and sometimes just impossible to move services in an apartment because of the impact it will have on other parts of the building. This generally means the kitchen will need to stay where it is. Often, it’s best to stick with the same layout for services such as plumbing, gas and electrics for the same reason, although apartments with high ceilings can sometimes accommodate a change by concealing pipes in bulkheads.
GOING UP, AND DOWN
If you’re planning a major overhaul of your kitchen, you or your trades will be transporting materials through the building. Check with your Body Corporate about what your obligations are in terms of keeping common spaces clear and clean. Ideally, you will have access to a service lift but investigate how you plan on moving materials around. If it’s a difficult process, it could add to your costs.
TALK TO THE NEIGHBOURS
This is always a good idea, even if you’re renovating a house, but it’s critical in apartment blocks where everyone lives a little closer. Keep your neighbours abreast of noisy works, especially during the demolition phase, and try to be considerate of those working from home or on shift. Communicating your plans gives the neighbours the opportunity to make plans.
PLAN FOR OPEN USE
Kitchen design has changed a lot over the years, from basic U-shaped and galley kitchens to completely open plan options. We’ve even moved on from 90s open plan design, which was characterised by peninsular-style benches and raised counters to hide the mess. These days, the raised counter has been eliminated in favour of a more open style and to allow it to better integrate into the living and dining space.
Because it will most likely be sitting within an open plan living space, treat the kitchen within the context of the whole room. That might mean integrating appliances such as the fridge, and using similar materials like laminate or engineered timber for the joinery that you can then continue into the living space. Details like door hardware and light fittings can also be used to link spaces and make them feel more generous.
STACK IT AND STORE IT
Apartment kitchens tend to be smaller than their freestanding counterparts, which means storage is always a major consideration. Use the entire space, right up to ceiling height and above the rangehood if applicable. Shallow shelving is particularly useful in kitchens, allowing you to easily see, as well as reach spices, sauces and cans. Make sure all your storage is highly functional and organised, with compartments in drawers, as well as cupboards.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, SWEETIE
Like the proverbial swan gliding across the lake, the overall appearance in an apartment kitchen should be streamlined and adaptable. Anything that will make a small space work harder, from a sink cover to extend bench space to a magnetic strip for storing kitchen knives should be considered, as long as it keeps the kitchen uncluttered.
Before you take the plunge, here’s a few commonly asked questions to ensure that your apartment kitchen looks and functions at its best.
Can you change the location of the kitchen in an apartment?
Because it’s part of a larger building, moving services like plumbing is particularly tricky in an apartment. With some clever design, sometimes pipes can be concealed inside cupboards or bulkheads but, for the most part, kitchens and bathrooms are fixed in apartments.
Do I need approval from strata to renovate my kitchen?
It depends on what you’re doing. If your plans extend no further than repainting, changing cabinet doors and replacing benchtops, then you shouldn’t need approval. But if you’d like to remove the wall between the kitchen and living room then, yes, you will need to seek permission. If you are looking at taking out a wall, expect to engage an engineer to ensure it will not affect other parts of the building.
What renovations add the most value in an apartment?
Just as it is for houses, a fresh coat of paint and updated kitchens and bathrooms will add the most value to your apartment when it comes time to sell. Having said that, buyers are often on the lookout for a shoddy job, so, if you have gone to the time, trouble and expense to renovate, get it done properly the first time.
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Property values have fallen hard and fast in this popular city, but it’s done little to dent pandemic rises
Highest property values, biggest dip the next. That’s the outcome for Australia’s northernmost capital on the east coast, with Brisbane property values recording their largest and fastest decline, data from Corelogic reveals.
The fall comes just seven months after values hit their peak after a population surge driven by the pandemic saw an increase of 43 percent. Home values hit a record high on June 19, 2022 but have since declined 10.9 percent, in parallel with eight consecutive interest rate rises since April last year.
Historically, peak-to-trough declines in Brisbane have lasted 14 months and have ranged from value drops of -2.9 percent to -10.8 percent. While the new record is just -0.1 percent compared with previous figures, that fall came over 21 months between April 2010 and January 2012. The latest decline was a much swifter seven month drop.
CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said it is worth putting the Brisbane figures into context with the rest of Australia’s capital cities, as well as considering the significant rise in property values in the Queensland capital over the pandemic.
“Brisbane now stands out as one of two capital city markets with record declines, the other being Hobart,” Ms Owen said. “Sydney continues to have the largest peak-to-trough falls of the capital city markets (currently at -13.8 percent), while peak-to-tough falls remain mild in some cities (such as Perth, where values are down just -1.0 percent from a recent peak in August 2022).”
“The record fall in Brisbane home values has not made much of a dent in the gains made during the upswing. The fall in the Brisbane daily HVI follows an upswing of 43.5 percent between August 2020 and 19 June 2022, which was the fastest trajectory of rising values on record. This leaves home values across Brisbane 27.9 percent higher than at the previous trough in August 2020.”
The median dwelling value in Brisbane jumped from $506,553 at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to $707,658 by the end of last year, Ms Owen said.
“Despite the large decline from peak, Brisbane maintains the third highest gain in value of the capital cities since the start of the pandemic,” she said.
“Only Adelaide and Darwin, which are 42.8 percent and 29.6 percent higher respectively than at the onset of the pandemic, have performed stronger.
“For this reason, there is marginal risk of negative equity for Brisbane homeowners, with the exception of very recent buyers, who purchased around the peak in June 2022 with less than a 20 percent deposit.”
However, there are signs of resilience in the market. Brisbane remains a more affordable option compared with the other east coast capitals, Ms Owen said.
Although housing values remain higher than pre-COVID levels, Brisbane retains a lower price point than Sydney, with a $435,170 difference in median house values and $280,749 difference in median unit values,” she said.
“The gap between Brisbane and Melbourne housing values is also significant, with a $119,697 gap between median house values and $97,692 difference in median unit values.
“This could encourage ongoing housing demand from those willing to migrate to the state, or own an interstate investment.”
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