LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: Angela and Andrew Mula are happy with the renovated deck area at the rear of their Grafton home. The upgrade was about making the home liveable.
LONG-TERM OUTLOOK: Angela and Andrew Mula are happy with the renovated deck area at the rear of their Grafton home. The upgrade was about making the home liveable. Adam Hourigan

Making our houses into a home

THEY say you never get back the money you put into a renovation but for Grafton couple Angela and Andrew Mula, it was about creating a forever home.

"We want this to be a place we can live long term and it really was about creating a liveable space," Ms Mula said.

Their large back deck renovation, which was completed by Riverdale Homes this year, extended their deck to a wide entertaining area that has links to not only their backyard but a pre-existing swimming pool.

"It's great in winter and is close to the pool in summer - and with the barbecue close, we eat nearly all our meals out here," Mr Mula said.

Clarence Valley home owners spent nearly $10 million in upgrades to their home in 2017-18, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In the last financial year, $9,786,500 was spent in the Valley, with $3,015,500 spent in Grafton, $3,382,700 in the Greater Grafton area and $3,388,300 in Maclean, Iluka and Yamba.

Master Builders Queensland deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said that figure was set to steadily rise, with renovation activity in the state "very strong''.

As well as the ABS figures, Mr Bidwell said (Queensland Building and Construction Commission data also showed a steady increase.

It collects data on any renovation worth more than $3000 (plus $300 GST) as it needs to have home warranty insurance.

"Those numbers have been really steadily increasing,'' Mr Bidwell said.

He said some renovations were being done to improve houses that owners intended to keep but that was also done with the knowledge it was adding future value.

"I assume most people when they renovate they do it with an eye to 'will I get this money back, will it actually add value','' he said.

Mr Bidwell's biggest tip for those wanting to embark on a renovation project - no matter what the reason - was to make sure those carrying out the work were licensed.

He said it was essential to get a couple of quotes, to find out if your cost expectations were realistic.

"In a very busy market, if you don't shop around you are doing yourself a disservice,'' he said.

"In some parts of the market you might find there is very sharp pricing because people are looking for the work. Either way it is just for peace of mind, you want to shop around and just get at least two or three quotes.''

Also have a clear idea of what you want to achieve before everything starts.

"If you just rush in like a bull at a gate you are going to be very disappointed,'' he said.

Mr Bidwell said, particularly with older homes, it was hard to know what additional costs could come up until the work began. It could include having to remove asbestos or structural damage uncovered in the work.

According to figures from Archicentre, generally renovations where there were no structural upgrades required a cost of $700-$2800 a square metre.

But home owners should allow extra in their budget for the possible removal of hazardous material such as asbestos sheeting.

Archicentre said fitting out a wet area could be much more expensive and that was without factoring in the cost of white goods.

Bathrooms and ensuites ranged from $12,000-$27,000, a kitchen was between $15,000- $43,000 and laundry between $6000-$17,000.

The figures are indicative costs for a "shell and the extended roof line'' over the shell.