Buying and selling houses can still be a reliable income source, but only if you don’t go overboard on the renovations in between. If you plan to live in a property for a long time, then do whatever you can afford to achieve your dream home.

But if you’re looking at an investment, then choose your renovations carefully to maximise the chance of selling the property without minimising your profit. I’ve chosen 5 cost-effective renovations that will help you sell your home, without hurting your wallet.

1. New Kitchen and Bathroom

If you have an old kitchen or bathroom, then it has got to go. If the bathroom isn’t white, then rip it out. The exception to this is if you have an original Art Deco suite, which is in high demand. But if it’s avocado from the 1970s, then out it comes. Happily, DIY stores do complete bathroom suites for a few hundred pounds, in glistening white and chrome.

In the kitchen, it’s most important to make sure everything works and is sparkling clean (give the bathroom a good scrub too.) White goods such as refrigerators and washing machines often don’t come with the house, but the hob and oven do. Get a professional in to clean these if grease is caked on. You don’t have to fit new kitchen cupboards, often the look can be updated with new doors or even just new handles.

Regrout tiles in the bathroom and kitchen, reseal any worktops or surfaces, and replace cracked tiles. Lay down new linoleum if your’s is curling up or damaged. Finally, make sure all vents are thoroughly dusted and replace the cooker hood grease catcher with a new one.

Cost: 40%

Time: 60%

Difficulty: 40%

2. Landscape (on the cheap) the Garden

Homeowners often forget that the garden is another room of the house and should be decorated accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend lots of money on landscaping. Follow these simple tips for DIY garden design to make the most of your outdoor space without high costs.

First of all, clear out any nettles, overgrown plants, dead trees and the like. You want the garden looking neat and tidy. At an absolute minimum, clear the ground and lay a new lawn. Prospective buyers can then imagine their own garden space with the blank area you have provided.

If you have more time, or the garden is fairly neat to begin with, then add a seating area. Put some decking near the house, then buy odd paving stones to create a path down the garden, ideally to a small summer house. These can get expensive, so shop around and remember, all you really need is a structure that could fit one chair and a small table.

To add colour to the garden, paint the fence and decking a bright colour. Remember to check which of your neighbours owns what fence, and get their permission, in case of paint bleeding through to their side. Paint the summer house too, nautical themes are always popular, try painting the structure white with a blue trim, and the fences to match. The theme can be continued with a few glass buoys dotted about the garden. Plants that grow well at the seaside are often hardy and can withstand British weather, so consider putting those in borders or planters.

For the rest of the planting, fill borders if you have them with colourful bedding plants. These are available to buy in bulk from garden centres and supermarkets. If you have the time to plan, raid the pound shop’s selection of bulbs and get them in before Spring for bursts of colour. In Winter time, winter-flowering pansies are the gardener’s friend, not least because everyone likes the way they look like smiling faces.

Always plant flowers in odd-numbered groups, usually three or five, as this provides an impactful display. If you don’t have borders, buy big pots and fill with plants, then arrange around the garden. For an extra flourish, buy solar powered fairy lights and string them in the trees, or along the fence. It adds a sense of whimsy to the garden and makes the space inviting at night.

Cost: 40%

Time: 40%

Difficulty: 30%

3. Convert the Loft

Loft conversions are popular renovation as they add an extra room to a property. You usually need planning permission for a conversion, always check with the local planning office at your council. Once you obtain planning permission, then carry out the work yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. Remember to put skylights in the roof for fresh air and daylight and check access into and out of the room.

You cannot market a loft conversion as a bedroom if it does not have adequate access in the event of an emergency such as a fire. If you convert a loft into a bedroom and it does not pass inspection, then it can only be marketed as an extra room. For example, a 3-bedroom house where 1 bedroom is a conversion that didn’t pass inspection can only be sold as a 2-bedroom house. This will affect the price that you can charge for the property.

Information surrounding loft conversions can also be applied to cellar conversions. When converting a cellar, make sure there is adequate damp-coursing. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, take what measures you can to prevent water from entering the property. It is unlikely to be worth your time doing a full room conversion as there will be a risk to personal belongings if the cellar floods.

Cost: 60%

Time: 50%

Difficulty: 50:%

4. Apply for Planning Permission (but don’t carry out the work)

A cheeky idea this, get everything ready for a big renovation but don’t actually do it. Loft conversions, extensions or remodelling all add value to a property, but they can all add substantial costs too. If you can bear the bureaucracy, have architects draw up plans for the work, get the plans approved by the local council, and sell the property with the plans. You will have saved the new owners the headache of getting planning permission and still get part of the profit boost that the renovation would have given.

This technique works especially well on properties that sit on valuable land but are wrecks in themselves. Obtain planning consent for the property to be demolished, and a new house (or houses) built on the land. This drives the price up with very little work on your part.

Cost: 40%

Time: 40%

Difficulty: 30%

5. Paint Everything White

When people view a house, they want to be able to imagine themselves living there. This is why sellers are advised to tone down personal touches and to aim to strike a balance between a harmoniously decorated home and one with their personality splashed large across the walls.

As a general rule, loud colours and patterns are out. You can sell a colourful house (I’ve sold several), but the colours must blend nicely. You want a sense of flow through the rooms. If you’re not sure if your decor is right, then play safe and paint everything white.

Buy a big tub of white paint from the DIY store, these are reasonably priced and come in extra large sizes. You might be able to paint one or two rooms from the same can. Keeping everything white (including the ceilings) makes cutting in easier and the paint job can be accomplished fairly swiftly.

Cost: 20%

Time: 40%

Difficulty: 20%

These are 5 ways cost-effective ways to renovate a property before selling that will maximize profit and are a good use of your time. To find more home improvements that can add value to your home in this way, and learn the 7 renovations to avoid, check out propertyworkshop.com.

This post was contributed by Vicky Prior.