04 Jan 2013
First impressions are the key to the successful sale of residential property, whether they are fundamentals such as the entrance, the general layout and condition, according to Pam Golding Properties (PGP).
These days open plan living and outdoor facilities are important. Internally, the kitchen is critical, as are bathrooms and toilets.
Garaging is essential, ideally leading directly into the home. Alas, security is high on the buyer list as the blight of house robberies is still with us – and increasing.
South Africans are outdoors types, so the garden, patio, braai area and pool are high on the home shopping list.
But a clinching feature is often the garden, which frames and complements the outdoor facilities.
According to PGP, gardens help sell houses, and size is not all that important, and one could have a small apartment with a verandah which has been carefully tended with flowers, creepers and pot plants.
As a rule of thumb a really spectacular garden can add 20 percent or more to the value of a home. In fact, the creation and on-going upkeep of a really attractive garden can cost a similar amount, says the agency.
And South Africans are prolific gardeners – note the weekend crowds at busy nurseries.
The country’s garden industry, whether commercial or domestic, employs a very substantial workforce.
Liz McGrath, owner of the Cellars Hotel in Hohenhort, Cape Town, employs seven gardeners in her internationally famed 9.5 acre gardens.
Chris van Zyl, environmental manager at another hotel lauded for its beautiful grounds, the Vineyard in Newlands, says the hotel group spends some half a million rand a year on garden maintenance.
But do we take our gardens seriously in terms of value? Most gardens, in spite of their cost, are under-insured, or not insured at all.
Generally speaking, the ordinary homeowner’s policy (compulsory if you have a mortgage bond) includes minor cover such as damaged or stolen implements, breakdown of pool motors and irrigation systems, more often or not limited to a maximum of R5 000 a claim.
Specific garden insurance does not appear to have caught on here – as it has in the United States and the UK, for example.
Potential hazards to consider include fire, flood, disease, theft and vandalism. Garden theft is prevalent in the UK, where more than 1 million cases are reported each year. Gardens are now nearly as rich pickings as houses.
Insurance company Direct Line estimates that British gardens contain a total of R160 billion of valuable items. Claims on garden insurance averaged almost R520 million over a three-year period, it reports.
A typical specialised garden policy in the UK might limit claims to R1.5 million in any one year, R5 000 a tree or shrub plus a R25 000 limit on garden furniture and appliances.
In the US, insuring gardens has led to the formation of the Tree and Landscape Appraisers Association.
The value of trees – many rare – has been quantified to the last centimetre for loss or damage. Appraisers apply basic formulae based on trunk circumference, plus a species percentage rating. Additional value is placed on historic trees and on their location.
Here in South Africa, trees of historic significance are fairly common.
McGrath says her prized possessions are her ancient camphor trees, some of which probably came to this country during the days of the Spice Route.
Incidentally, specific trees generally in public places are often stripped of their bark which is used for “muti”.
It stands to reason if one invests a substantial amount of money on landscaping one should have appropriate cover in place. But adequate cover requires a specific short term policy.
Christelle Fourie, managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances says garden insurance is specialised and the few standard policies which include garden insurance are of limited scope and the most common form of claim is for the damage caused by fallen trees and their removal.
This, she says, can cost between R10 000 and R20 000 a tree depending on size and location.
Another common form of claim is for the reinstatement of gardens, usually the result of a fire.
“There are limits imposed, so if your garden has been expensively landscaped you need to get specialised advice.”
However, professional landscaping needn’t cost the earth, says the SA Institute of Landscape Architects (Ilasa).
The institute points out that using a qualified landscape architect adds value. “They design solutions to suit their clients’ budgets.”
There is another good reason for using a professional. When putting your property on sale, Ilasa’s documentation serves as an important marketing tool to show buyers. This also helps to get satisfactory insurance cover since it details cost.
There is, however, often an issue over fees, so it’s advisable to settle this before work begins. Landscape architects usually charge a fixed fee as a percentage of contract value - the SA Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession (Saclap) publishes a scale of fees.
If there is no agreed contract value, architects usually charge on an hourly basis, as recommended by Saclap. The council can also provide a standard client-architect agreement which outlines the responsibilities of each party during the course of the contract.
Take another look at the garden into which you have poured so much love and effort. You might realise that money does actually
This article is published courtesy of Pam Golding Properties Intellectual Property Magazine.
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