Want to buy an investment property? From negative gearing to tax deductions, there’s a lot to learn. Find out the risks and rewards of property investment. 25 November 2022 4 minute read Freya Cormack Buying property is a popular investment choice for many Australians. A property is a physical asset that could help you earn extra income now and at the time of selling. But there’s a lot to learn. In this article, we’ll explain what an investment home loan is and how it differs from an owner occupier home loan. We’ll also go through some of the pros and cons of property investment, how to get started, positive vs negative gearing, interest only loans and other things to be aware of. What is an investment home loan? An investment home loan is a specific home loan type used to help fund the purchase of an investment property. Investment home loans can offer many of the same features that a regular mortgage offers, including offset accounts, a redraw facility and fixed and variable interest rates. What’s the difference between a regular mortgage and an investment mortgage? You can expect to experience some differences between a regular mortgage (i.e. owner-occupied) and an investment mortgage. If you intend to live in the home, you’ll need a regular owner-occupier home loan. If you plan to rent out or ‘flip’ the home, you’ll need an investment mortgage. Some of the key differences between the mortgage types are: Interest rates With an investment mortgage, you can expect a higher interest rate. It’s extremely important to be honest when applying for a home loan. If you apply for an owner occupier home loan for an investment property you could land yourself in a lot of trouble. This is considered as occupancy fraud and is something that lenders readily look out for. Tax rules Investment properties come with a number of tax benefits and expenses that you can claim as tax deductions, including interest costs. Owner-occupied properties don’t come with the same tax treatment. Investors should also be aware of capital gains tax (CGT) that may be charged when selling an investment property. It’s a tax charged on any profit you make after selling your investment property. However, if you wait at least 1 year before selling your investment property, you’ll get a 50% CGT discount. Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) Some banks have stricter lending standards for investors. For example, they may require a minimum deposit of 20% (maximum 80% LVR). While lenders generally prefer that owner-occupier borrowers have a deposit of at least 20%, there is usually more flexibility. Remember that for both loan types, a higher LVR typically attracts a higher interest rate. You can learn more about saving and budgeting for an investment property here. What does an investor need to do to get a loan? The application process for an investment loan is largely the same as for regular home loans. Here are the basic steps: Figure out what you need in an investment loan Save up a deposit Gather supporting documentation Research home loan options and lenders Speak to a mortgage broker to make the process smoother Decide on a home loan product Consider getting mortgage pre-approval Formally apply for the home loan Get approved and sign the mortgage documents. What are the potential rewards of property investment? Property investment can come with many benefits which is why it remains such an attractive investment option. Here are some of the potential rewards of property investment: A less volatile investment Unlike investing in shares, for example, which can be unpredictable and volatile, investing in property tends to be more stable. While property values often fluctuate, they tend to do so slowly, so you can plan your next move. Tax deductions Most investment property expenses are tax deductible which can save investors a lot of money. Some tax deductions that property investors can claim include: Home loan interest payments Repairs and maintenance Costs of property management Council rates and land tax Body corporate and strata fees Insurance Administrative costs. Earn rental income If you find tenants, you’ll earn rental income. This income can help you cover mortgage repayments and the costs of owning an investment property. Remember that having your property tenanted doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a profit. Property investing is typically less complicated than other investments Investing in property tends to be less complex and require less specialised knowledge than other investment types. There is a lot of information available online about it, as well as many experts you can reach out to if you need help. For example, most mortgage brokers don’t charge fees for their services and can be immensely helpful in helping borrowers find and apply for home loans. On the flip side, however, property investment has a much higher entry price. You don’t need a lot of money to start investing in the stock market, whereas you typically need tens of thousands of dollars – at minimum – to start investing in property. You have to cover the deposit and stamp duty somehow! Potential for capital growth Properties have the potential to appreciate in value significantly over time. This means that you could purchase a property for a low price and sell it at a profit after a few years. If growing the value of your investment is a priority for you, look to buy in areas that are likely to experience future growth. Look for schools that are improving on rankings, as well as council plans for intended development and infrastructure (e.g. new public transport lines). Rentvest and get on the property ladder If you want to get your foot on the property ladder but can’t yet afford to buy in the suburb you would like to live in, you could consider rentvesting. Rentvesting is where you continue to rent in your preferred location while purchasing an investment property in another area. This way, you start to earn rental income and get used to the ins and outs of owning a property while remaining in the suburb you love. What are the risks of property investment? While property investment is generally considered to be a ‘safer’ investment type, it’s not without potential risks. These may include: The property decreases in value Many investors purchase a rental property with the assumption that it will grow in value and that they’ll be able to sell it for a healthy profit after a few years. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Based on factors outside of your control – such as the ever-changing property market, infrastructure and development near the property and supply and demand – your property could decrease in value. Declining property values can have multiple negative impacts, including: It can reduce how much you can charge for rent If selling, you might not turn a profit You risk falling into negative equity You could have difficulty with refinancing if your equity is lower than 20%. A property is not a liquid asset Properties can’t be converted into cash in an instant like you might be able to do with some other investments. Selling can take a lot of time and if you sell quickly out of necessity (e.g. needing access to a lot of cash), you might not get the best sale price. If liquidity is something you value in an asset, you might prefer to focus on other investments or create a diverse portfolio. Difficult tenants Another risk of property investment is having bad tenants. Maybe they have damaged the property, are late with rent or refuse to pay, or perhaps they are disruptive to neighbours. Having difficult tenants like this could result in high costs and stress, but there are ways to prevent these issues: Using a property manager: when you hire a property manager, they take care of the day-to-day rental management. They’re experts in the local market and know how to select good tenants. Plus, if there are any issues, the tenants will contact them first. Get landlord insurance: having good landlord insurance can give you the assurance that your property will be taken care of if things go wrong. Landlord inspections: don’t go too long without inspecting the property during tenancy. Know your rights and responsibilities: know what your legal obligations are as a landlord, but also what your rights are. Choose your rental rate carefully:select a competitive rental price for your property as you are more likely to attract sensible, ordinary tenants, rather than those chasing unusually cheap rentals. Property vacancy Simply owning an investment property won’t guarantee a line of potential tenants at your door. Some investors even go through long periods where their property is vacant. If you are going to be relying on rental income, select the type and location of your investment property carefully. Properties in lively areas with plenty of amenities, public transport and schools are likely to have higher rental demand. Not being able to find tenants could mean that your property becomes negatively geared. While this won’t suit the goals of all investors, it does mean you can write your losses off on your tax return. Unreliable cash flow Owning a rental property does not guarantee you rental income. Owning a property comes with many expenses, including a mortgage in most cases. Mortgage repayments and associated costs can fluctuate and sometimes be greater than the rental income you receive. Risks to the physical property All properties are at risk of physical damage, but the risk can be higher for an investment property since you are not the one living in it. Investors should be prepared to deal with any potential damage that may occur. Often major damage can be prevented, so listen to your tenants when they tell you there’s a problem. Delaying repairs and maintenance could cost you far more than undertaking minor repairs. Interest rate fluctuations If you have a variable interest rate, you can expect your mortgage interest rate to fluctuate somewhat. If interest rates rise, this could negatively affect your cash flow. Investors who like stability regarding their home loan repayments might prefer to opt for a fixed interest rate. What should you consider when choosing to invest? While property investing is a more straightforward way to invest your money, there’s still a lot to think about before getting started. Here are some things to consider when planning to invest in property: Capital growth:depending on your investment goals, it’s smart to consider the property's potential for growth. Properties in popular and trendy areas as well as family-friendly areas tend to draw rental demand and value growth. Rental demand: don’t forget to research vacancy rates in the area you’d like to buy in. Just because you like the area, it doesn’t guarantee a sufficient level of rental demand. Buying in a suburb with low rental demand could leave your investment property empty. Location:choose the location carefully and think about what would attract tenants. Proximity to public transportation services, shops, restaurants, bars, community facilities and parks can attract renters. Target market: this is the kind of tenant you would like to rent your property to. Would you prefer a family? A young professional? Property type: do you want to buy an apartment, townhouse or detached house? Consider your target market and what they would be attracted to, as well as what suburb they would prefer to rent in. Age of property: the age of a property can impact your role as a landlord. Some old properties may require a lot of upkeep that can be costly for you and annoying for your tenants. But a new property won’t necessarily be better quality either. It’s a good idea to get a thorough property inspection done before buying a property so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Property features: think about the property features you’d like to get and the ones you’d like to avoid. A home with a pool could attract families, but it could also be a source of irritation when negotiating maintenance and day-to-day upkeep. Can investors get interest only home loans? Yes, interest only home loans tend to be most popular with property investors. An interest only home loan is where the borrower is only required to repay the interest that accumulates on top of the loan amount (principal). During the interest only period – which can typically last for 1-5 years – the borrower is not required to make any repayments on the principal. This means that you aren’t paying off your home loan balance – only the interest on top of the principal. Once the interest only period expires, the borrower will then have to make principal and interest repayments. Many investors will purchase an investment property with the goal of selling it at a gain after just a few years. An interest only loan can help maximise their profits. This is because interest repayments are tax deductible for property investors, so they can keep their property expenses very low. These investors can spend their extra money on other investments, while waiting for the optimal time to sell the investment property and make a profit. It’s important to note that this strategy won’t always be effective due to the unpredictable nature of the property market. That is; your property won’t necessarily increase in value as you expect it to. Positive and negative gearing the right property Understanding positive and negative gearing is essential as a property investor. When a property is positively geared, your investment income surpasses your investment expenses. In this case, you have a positive cash flow. When a property is negatively geared, the opposite occurs. Your investment income is lower than your investment expenses, creating a negative cash flow. For many borrowers, a positively geared property is the goal. You’ll get extra money in your pocket to put towards other investments or spend however you like. However, negative gearing can actually be an investment strategy. The short-term losses you get with a negatively geared property can usually be written off as tax deductions. Additionally, if the investment property grows in value, these losses will be offset by significant future capital gains when the property is sold. For negative gearing to work, you’ll likely have to buy property in an area that is expected to experience high growth. There’s a lot of information to absorb when considering property investment. If you're feeling lost or need more information just give us a call and we can lead you in the right direction
Saving money on food comes down to one thing: Working smarter, not harder. And that starts with keeping some basic pantry (and freezer and fridge) essentials on hand at all times, so you can whip up tasty meals with minimal effort. Saving money in the kitchen is always important, but even more so in 2022 as food prices rise. The USDA reports that food inflation is at a 14-year high, with grocery store shopping and eating at restaurants costing consumers about 6% more this year than last. There are a number of factors driving up prices: rising energy and transportation costs plus higher labor costs. Also, a widespread outbreak of avian flu has affected chicken and egg prices. Consumers are also seeing rising costs for meat in various forms including both raw and cured like bacon. Check out our 10 genius ways to save money on meat for your family’s meals. Why Is It a Good Idea to Have a Well-Stocked Pantry? If you have a well-stocked pantry it makes it easier and cheaper to cook at home, and not resort to takeout. A stocked pantry allows you to smartly take advantage of store sales to make meals for your family because you don’t have to buy every ingredient for something you may want to prepare. For example, if there’s a good deal on ground beef at the grocery store and you already have dried breadcrumbs, jarred red sauce and dried spaghetti in your pantry, you’ve got most of all what you need for easy Spaghetti and Meatballs. Pick up a few fresh veggies and make Black Bean Soup with the canned beans and broth you’ve got in the pantry. And how lucky that you have a loaf of French bread in the freezer. The Budget Cook’s 11 Kitchen Pantry Essentials Whole grains and breads Pasta Beans and legumes Baking Nuts and seeds Oils and vinegars Condiments and sauces Dried herbs and spices Shelf-stable foods Frozen fruits and veggies In the fridge If you’re trying to cut down on takeout and looking to stock your cabinets on the cheap, grab these healthy pantry essentials to build quick and easy low-cost meals. Keep an eye out for sales. Also, there is a lot on this list and you don’t need it all. If your family won’t eat peas, no need to buy that frozen bag of them. Same with pickles and olives, though for some folks, these items are the perfect flavor boosts for salads and sandwiches. 1. Grains and Breads Rolled oats Quinoa Rice (long grain, short grain, brown) Breads Muffins Bagels Corn and flour tortillas Cereals Quinoa and rice are standard bases for veggie bowls, taco bowls, and fried rice. They also make it easy to whip up your very own Quinoa Curry. Rolled oats are also versatile and worthy of a place in your pantry. In addition to overnight oats and baked goods, you can toss oats into a smoothie, or even make your own granola. A variety of bread is another great staple to have on hand. You can put just about anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich, or add some cheese and veggies in a tortilla to make a quesadilla. You’ve got tuna and bagels? Think about an open-face tuna melt sandwich. By having some standard whole grains around as a base, you can also cut down on food waste and reheat your leftovers or use up produce to create entirely new dishes. If you see bread on sale, grab a few loaves and stash in the freezer. 2. Pasta Spaghetti Penne Shells Couscous Rice noodles Egg noodles You don’t necessarily need these specific noodles, but a long noodle and a short noodle will do all the things you need noodles to do. Say that 10 times fast. Your short noodle (elbows, shells) can make mac and cheese or a great pasta primavera with leftover veggies. Long noodles (spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair) are made for sauces like Alfredo, pesto or marinara. You can make your pantry even more versatile by stocking it with rice noodles or egg noodles to whip up a homemade Pad Thai or ramen. 3. Beans and Legumes Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) Lentils Black beans Kidney beans Refried beans Lima beans Black-eyed peas Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder Beans and legumes cost a fraction of the price of meat, making them an affordable way to add protein to soups, chilis, and tacos. Roasted chickpeas make a healthy salad topper, while lentils are great for curry. You can buy these canned, but buying them dry is even cheaper. Bonus: Ditch the bag and store them in decorative jars, for a whimsical kitchen counter storage solution. Another perk to buying dried beans? Dried chickpeas make it super easy to blend your own delicious hummus. It is hard to beat the convenience of canned beans, and store brands are usually cheaper than big-name brands. Consider rinsing them before using to get rid of excess sodium. 4. Baking All-purpose flour Granulated sugar Brown sugar Baking powder Baking soda Powdered sugar Vanilla extract All-purpose or whole-wheat flour is essential for more than just cakes and breads. You can use it to make your own pancakes, biscuits or even fresh egg pasta. Flour is also used as a thickener in homemade sauces and soups. A little sugar can make a yummy sweet-and-savory sauce or quick fruit crisp in the microwave. Sugar shouldn’t be a staple in your diet, but it’s necessary in your kitchen. You’re likely to consume less sugar when you make your sweets at home instead of buying them at the store. And some homemade sauces actually call for a bit of sugar to offset the spiciness (like this Teriyaki Sauce). 5. Nuts and Seeds Almonds Peanuts Cashews Pecans Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) Shelled sunflower seeds Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder Basic nuts and seeds have a dual purpose: They’re a great snack on their own, and they give a nice crunchy texture to salads, oatmeal and baked goods. They also work really well with certain meat dishes— like this Cashew Chicken. Watch for them on sale because they can be pricey. Nuts are also just super healthy. Pumpkin seeds are chock-full of nutrients — just 1 ounce has 7 grams of protein. Nuts also contain a hefty dose of healthy fats and nutrients, so skip the chips and keep these tiny gems on hand. Save money on your nuts and seeds by ordering them in bulk from companies like Nutstop. 6. Oils and Vinegars Olive oil Vegetable oil Sesame oil White vinegar Apple cider vinegar Balsamic vinegar You can make some awesome marinades and salad dressings with this classic combo. Apple cider vinegar makes a tasty vinaigrette; while adding sesame oil to peanut butter and soy sauce creates an amazing peanut sauce. If you want to expand your oil and vinegar inventory, balsamic and rice vinegars add a lot of options to your pantry arsenal. Plus if you end up with more vinegar than you know what to do with, you can always try your hand at canning garden vegetables! 7. Condiments and Sauces Mayonnaise Dijon mustard Soy sauce Hot sauce Honey Worcestershire sauce BBQ sauce Much like oil and vinegar, condiments and sauces give new life to bland meats and veggies. They can also be the glue that holds creative summer dishes together—like this easy Egg Salad recipe. A little hot sauce corrects all recipe mistakes. Peanut butter toast makes a great snack — in fact, we’ve found that there are a lot of household uses for peanut butter. If you’ve already got a lot of condiments to work with, don’t let them die in your fridge. There are several ways to put them to good use. 8. Dried Herbs and Spices Salt Pepper Garlic powder Onion powder Ground cumin Italian seasoning Crushed red pepper Cinammon powder Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder Salt and pepper are a given. But buying pre-minced garlic saves time — and allows you to add fresh garlic to anything. It also brings you one step closer to this delicious homemade garlic bread. Cumin is another good spice to have, since it’s a staple in many Mexican dishes. Italian seasoning is a frugal life hack. It includes all the seasonings you want in the ratio you want them, without having to buy seven different bottles. And crushed red pepper is an easy one to have on hand because you can always refill your container with the packets that come with your pizza. Spices and dried herbs can be expensive. We’ve rounded up 10 ways to save money on spices that will help keep your pantry stocked for scratch cooking. 9. Shelf-Stable Foods Tomatoes (whole peeled, crushed, diced, pureed) Peanut butter Nut butters Pasta sauces Coconut milk Stock or broth Corn Canned tuna Canned chicken Salsa (red and green) Olives Capers Pickles Raisins/dried cranberries We often think of this category as canned goods but some of these foods will come in jars, resealable bags or cartons. Watch labels because some items may need to be refrigerated after opening. Coconut milk, stock and tomatoes are necessary bases for many soups, chilis and curries (Coconut curry, anyone?). You can also cook rice and quinoa in stock or coconut milk to add some extra flavor. It’s always nice to have a jarred pasta sauce on hand if you don’t have time to make your own — even though it’s really easy. And if you’re embarking on a pantry challenge by eating what’s on hand before buying additional groceries, having ample canned goods will help you tie together some delicious meals. 10. Frozen Fruits & Veggies Spinach Peas Mixed veggies Berries Mixed fruits Veggie patties or nuggets Edamame While it’s not exactly your “pantry,” having a stocked freezer is one of the easiest ways to ensure you always have prepped veggies, vegetarian protein alternatives, and a variety of fruits on hand. Toss frozen veggies into the oven for an easy baked veggie side, or add frozen berries to your favorite baked goods, like these Blueberry Muffins. (Plus, you’ve got the baking essentials in your pantry so you may not have to buy anything!) If you have a hankering for more of the “junk-food” frozen items like dumplings or frozen pizza, don’t go crazy trying to deprive yourself. Remember, satisfying your food needs (even those sneaky cravings) at home will always be cheaper than paying for take out. 11. In the Fridge Butter Eggs Milk Nut “milks” Cheeses (cream cheese, Parmesan, cheddar) Yogurt Just like the freezer, you might not think of the refrigerator as your pantry, but some essentials there will make cooking from scratch so much easier. Take eggs. Even though the price is higher for a dozen than it’s been for a while, eggs can still be the basis of an economical meal. Look for store brands which continue to be a better buy than bigger name brands. Check out these 24 ideas for affordable ways to serve eggs for dinner. We especially like this Huevos Rancheros recipe and since you already have beans, salsa and tortillas in your pantry, dinner will not only be a snap, it will be cheap. Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder. Jen Smith, a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder, contributed to this article.
Downsizing is incredibly liberating if you feel like you’re rattling around a large family home that once used to be full of noise and laughter but now sits mostly empty because the children have left the nest. While there’s a sadness to these situations, it can be an exciting time in which you’re able to create space in your life for new adventures. As experienced local agents, we’ve helped many couples who have made the decision to downsize and make the most of the current boom in property prices to fund a new, more streamlined lifestyle. Perhaps the most emotional element in the strategy is the need to discard many of the possessions that you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. So below is a downsizing checklist to help remove some of the stress. Take your time – Don’t try to downsize all in one day or weekend. The project will be too big. It’s taken a lifetime to accumulate all of this stuff – make sure your timeframe to cull is realistic. Go room by room – This will help you take on a larger project in bite-size chunks. Always finish one room before moving to the next, otherwise you might quickly become overwhelmed. Think creatively – Not everything needs to be thrown away. You can sell possessions that have value or give items to your family, friends or a favourite charity. You can now also list them with neighbourhood groups on social media and see if your possessions can find someone else who will appreciate them. Create a system – You’ll want a system to decide what you’re going to do with each item, so it’s best to be organised at the start of the project. Create different piles for keep, sell, donate and throw – and be tough when allocating. Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to seek help from family and friends – especially your kids! – but be clear with your instructions for them. Go carefully – It’s easy after a while to become a little careless. And that’s when you might throw away something that you’ll regret later. Put some time if you can between the sorting, and the decision to sell, donate or throw out just so you can revise if you need to. (But that doesn’t mean you keep everything!) Make a floor plan – If you’re in the great position of knowing where you’re moving to, then make a floorplan for each room and make sure you have measurements. This will help you qualify what’s in and out based on size and room allocation. Keep notes – It’s a smart idea to make a note of each item you intend to keep and why. You might add additional information, such as which room it will be kept or stored. The need to justify can help you cull just that little bit harder. Call a removalist – Once you’ve completed this project, get quotes on the cost of moving the items you’re keeping to your new home. This will help you decide whether you need to re-evaluate a few items Call a charity shop – Some charitable organisations offer a pick up service which can be helpful. It will also give you security about the items being useful to them – or if you need to find an alternative solution.
When you have to sell your home due to debt or divorce, this can be an extremely traumatic experience. However, with the right help and advice, it is possible to get through it and move onto the next phase of your life. Here is some essential information to help you make the transition as smoothly as possible. Selling your home due to debt The combination of cooling in the property market and recent changes to home loans might have resulted in you feeling you have overextended yourself as a property investor. Property prices have fallen, so you might find yourself facing negative equity in one or more properties, which could prompt banks to force you to sell. You can also fall into financial hardship for other unexpected reasons, such as losing your job. This can mean you struggle to keep up with mortgage repayments. If you are in financial difficulty, it is essential to contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your situation and work out a plan ‒ before they start proceedings to repossess your home. If you need to sell your home to repay your debts, you need to get permission from the lender. This will be given if your repayments are up to date and the sale of your property will cover your debts. If you have missed payments due to financial hardship, your lender will help you to arrange a repayment plan where you agree to sell your home within a given time period. Selling your home due to divorce Divorce is never easy, and the division of assets, including your home, can make a bad situation much worse if it is not handled correctly. Here’s what you need to know to make the process run more smoothly. 1. Selling a property before a divorce settlement If you and your partner can come to an amicable agreement about your assets, you won’t have to go to court. You can have the property valued and decide between yourselves and your legal advisers who gets what share. One partner might choose to buy the other out if one of you wants to stay in the home, but this is likely to involve refinancing your home loan. You might have to take out a new loan to do this, as changing names on mortgages is not allowed. 2. Selling a house while separated Once you and your partner decide to separate, it is essential to get legal advice as quickly as possible. If you are a married couple, all property adjustments have to be made within one year of divorcing. If you separate from a partner you have been living with but not married to, you have two years from the date of your separation to make your property adjustments. 3. Who pays the mortgage after separation? Obviously, if you and your partner separate, you will each need to get your own finances in order so they are not still combined. You might be able to decide between yourselves who will pay the mortgage. However, if your separation is not amicable, the Family Court can decide this matter. 4. How to sell a house when one partner refuses If your ex-spouse refuses to sell the house, you can take the case to the Family Court. The judge can make a court ordered sale of a house in a divorce. This involves having the property valued and sold for that value. Ideally, you should try to avoid having to force the sale of a house by court order, as this can make the process more traumatic and bitter, but the option is there as a last resort should you need it. Why you need a good real estate to help you through As well as a good legal adviser, you also need a reputable and experienced real estate agent. This can make the process run much more smoothly for you, particularly if they have experience with home sales due to debt or divorce. The right agent should be able to empathise with your situation while still being efficient enough to achieve a fast, stress-free sale. When choosing an agent, you should look for someone who has experience in the local property market and a good database of potential buyers, as well as being able to advise you on how to prepare your home to make it as appealing as possible. If you have to sell your home in traumatic circumstances, we are always here to make things easier for you and help you move on with your life. Please contact us if you would like more information.
The thought of a lovely, sparkling new kitchen is exciting. The prospect of the upheaval and everything else a kitchen renovation involves can seem very daunting. However, the right advice and guidance can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary stress and uncertainty. With so many aspects to consider is it easy to become confused, so the best place to start is deciding what you like. It is easy to be caught up with trends and fashions, but everything dates eventually. Choose what appeals to you, as you will be the one enjoying it. Look at pictures of different kitchens online or in magazines. Decide what you like and what style would suit your home and budget. Take into consideration the age and style of your home as you need your new kitchen to fit in. Optimise the layout with a nice flow and good functionality. If you struggle with ideas, you can employ the services of an interior designer or kitchen planner to guide you with your decision-making. Jo Cattermole, owner of Ruby Colour and Design explains, “There are so many different types of kitchens and it really comes down to individual taste, style, function and budget. While there are specific styles you can follow, my clients generally choose what they love and want, or what they have enjoyed before. Styles you can consider are traditional, classic, country, art deco, Scandinavian, rustic or industrial. ” While the choices are huge and the colour ranges diverse, it is easy to figure out what you do not want. Eliminate all those possibilities first to narrow your selection and make your choices easier. Consider the colour of your flooring; this is something that is less likely to be changed than the colour of your walls and furnishings. With this in mind, the decision between a pre-made kitchen verses a custom kitchen may arise. Many hardware stores are able to supply you with a range of cabinetry and help you with the layout. These are all pre-made designs, sizes and colours that slot straight into an empty space. You can have a pre-made kitchen professionally installed but you also have the option of doing it yourself, which becomes more cost effective. A custom kitchen may be more suitable for someone who is dealing with difficult or small spaces or just wants their kitchen to be more ‘designer’. These are generally more expensive but a good kitchen builder will have great ideas and advice and can provide images of what your new kitchen will look like. The cabinetry is custom made to fit and installed by the kitchen builder. Whatever your decision, there are other tradesmen that you will also need to consider. A plumber, an electrician, a tiler and possibly a plasterer and someone who can flue your range hood, depending on the style you choose. Often when employing a kitchen builder they can also arrange the other tradesmen needed along the way. This can certainly be less stressful than trying to orchestrate them all yourself. Bench-tops and tiling are also important parts of your kitchen colour choices. There are many types of bench-tops available so once again your own preferences, taste and budget is what should sway your decision. As with the cabinetry, consider the colours in the flooring when deciding upon your bench tops, tiling and or a glass splashback. Like tiles, glass splashbacks are available in a wide range of colours and can be a great focal point in your kitchen. Jo advise that, “Colours can change once they are all put together, so it’s vital to see them together as samples before you start. “ You will need to select the appliances for your new kitchen and figure them into your design. There are many styles and options with these appliances and they come within a wide price range. Generally, an oven, cook-top, range hood, fridge and dishwasher are what you will need to purchase. Many new kitchens these days also have built-in microwaves, so this may be something you decide to include. Do consider purchasing the same brand for consistency in style and one known for its good quality. You won’t regret it. Don’t forget about your kitchen sink and tap wear. Again, there are many options available here too, so choose what you prefer, what will fit your budget and work best in your kitchen space. Perhaps you would like to have a permanent, filtered water tap or a waste disposal unit installed. You may also decide on a fridge that has water plumbed straight to it for convenience. With new kitchen lighting, it is important to have this worked into your kitchen plans. Discuss this with your kitchen builder or electrician. “Often my clients lean towards feature lighting above a breakfast bar. This can add to the style of your kitchen and can easily be changed or updated in time,” says Jo. “Down-lighting is also very popular as it is a modern, yet economical way to light your kitchen. LED lighting is often used to give a wow factor along kick plates on breakfast bars” Once all the aesthetic decisions have been decided and you are happy with your choices, it’s time to put it all into action. Jo concludes, “A home should reflect you, not a magazine page or show home. It is about what you love and the look you desire, no rules I believe. As we age, our taste can change. Using colour in our accessories not only gives a touch of ‘you’ it is also an easy and inexpensive way to have a change if you feel like one.” So don’t be nervous. Throw yourself into the wide range of kitchen designs and choices available. Collect as many samples as you need, start to visualise your new space and enjoy what reflects you and your home in the best way possible. By Claire Hester. 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