"A lot depends on the type of property and the area - but kitchens and bathrooms always sell homes.
"Depending on budget, fresh paint and new carpets also help.
"The best approach is to keep it simple. When renovating a kitchen, those who have DIY skills and aren't in a rush could pick up a second-hand one, fix it up and repaint the doors."
Sasha Chekal, business owner, Reno Girl
Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?
'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make.
With fewer homes available for sale, property renovation is a hot topic right now. They can help make an existing home more liveable as needs change - and increase it's value.
As someone who helps people save time and money on house renovations, Sasha Chekal, small business owner at Reno Girl lives and breathes property.
Owning a business alongside being a single mum with a baby can be a challenge, she says. But it's also forced her to focus on building a secure financial future.
Trawling websites in her down time, Sasha enjoys saving money by paying second-hand prices for items rather than buying new.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
I splurge now and then, but tend to put my savings into things that bring a return.
I'm a bargain hunter: I love buying second-hand things! Most of my time and money goes into buying and renovating property.
When I bought my first villa, a complete reno, a friend was also saving for a house. She told me I was crazy: that I'd taken on too much (there were no windows in some places and the bathroom needed retiling).
My friend never did end up buying and spent most of her money on lifestyle choices.
2. What was your biggest financial lesson, success or failure?
Being self-employed as a solo mum with a baby in tow can be a challenge. I'm often on-site at 7.30am and am still working in the evening.
For a while, I worried how things would turn out. But we adapt.
As a parent, my financial decisions are based on providing a secure future. Almost daily, I ask myself what I want to achieve and what kind of life I want for myself and my child.
Within the first week of having my baby, I was back at work. The second weekend, I was visiting open homes looking for a property to do up outside of Auckland. Meanwhile, I was running my business and converting my 3-bedroom, 1 bathroom home to 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, to generate a passive income.
3. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider was great value for money:
It's a little boring (and probably not an answer I would've shared), but I love my Dyson V12 vacuum stick.
This was my little gift for myself to survive the madness of renovations at home. As the owner of two large dogs and a cat, I'm constantly battling a fur war. The vacuum stick helps me keep on top of it.
4. For homeowners on a restricted budget, what areas of the home should they prioritise for renovations?
A lot depends on the type of property and the area - but kitchens and bathrooms always sell homes. Depending on budget, fresh paint and new carpets also help.
The best approach is to keep it simple. When renovating a kitchen, those who have DIY skills and aren't in a rush could pick up a second-hand one, fix it up and repaint the doors.
Bathrooms can be improved simply by upgrading the shower and a vanity, adding a new mirror and simple tiling.
If there are any structural issues, leaks or repairs needed to the roof or drainage, these need to be prioritised. If ignored, they can become a lot more expensive to fix later on - and can put off potential buyers when the property is sold.
In my experience, if what a tradesperson is saying doesn't make sense, it's worth getting another opinion. Research your tradies, talk to their customers and have a list of questions ready.
5. What's your best saving tip?
To find quality items on Trade Me and Facebook marketplace, paying second-hand prices rather than brand new.
I encourage people to advertise items they no longer need, e.g. old wooden doors, windows - even pavers.
Recently, we sold pavers from an old driveway we'd pulled up. We also listed all the windows and doors. Not only are we giving another person an opportunity to save during their renovation, we're also recycling things that still have life in them.
6. If you have spare cash to invest, what’s your preferred form of investment and why?
I have to understand my investment and don’t feel as confident with investments such as shares and bitcoin.
I enjoy creating value by renovating. I've owned rentals and have also traded property and still feel this is the right approach for me.
I know it's not for everyone: it requires being constantly on the lookout for a good deal. Even in my down time, I find myself online searching for properties and checking out what's happening in the market.
7. Does having more money increase happiness?
No. Money just happens to be a form of currency we use to trade amongst ourselves for the things we need and want.
I believe it’s important to be well balanced, to know the value of money and to prioritise how we use it.
For some people, having less money makes them happier: there's less to worry about.
8. What’s the best money advice someone's ever given you?
Starting my first job working with clients and contracts, my boss said the only difference with a bigger contract is the number of zeros placed at the end of it.
This instilled a strong sense of responsibility for other peoples' money.
Irrespective of whether someone spends $10 or $1 million, they should be treated the same.
The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.