Scaffolding is increasingly going up around old residential buildings across the territory as flat owners look to raise the value of their properties through face-lifts. Faded external walls, rusty pipes and worn-out lifts and lobbies can often dampen capital values in older buildings. Major face-lifts are needed to repair and renovate these facilities. It can be a costly exercise, depending on the extent of work and number of units in a property, and it is usually difficult to get a consensus among individual owners for an overhaul of a building. Despite this, the recent property boom has apparently encouraged a growing number of property owners to carry out extensive renovations at old buildings in prime areas with a view to increasing their values. Estate agents said the capital value of a property could increase by 5 per cent to more than 20 per cent after a face-lift. Even if the value of some properties might not be boosted by a renovation, they would be easier to sell as their attractiveness would be increased. The renovation trend has been widely noticed in the prime districts of Hong Kong Island such as Tai Hang, North Point and Tin Hau, and Ho Man Tin in Kowloon, where there are many older buildings. In such wealthy districts there is usually no financial restriction on a good-quality renovation. Bonnie Ho Sau-yee, sales supervisor for New L&D in Tai Hang district, said most of the 20-year-plus buildings in Tai Hang or Jardine's Lookout had been renovated in the past year. Ms Ho attributed the trend to last year's booming property market. Buildings renovated during the past year include Swiss Towers and Park Garden in Tai Hang, Bellevue Heights in Tai Hang Drive, Tai Hang Terrace in Chun Fai Road, Linden Court in Wong Nai Chung Road, and Pioneer Court in Ventris Road. Ms Ho said the average payment for a face-lift usually exceeded $150,000 per owner. A renovation usually includes restoring external walls, repairing electrical wiring, replacing pipes and refurbishing lobbies and lifts. The latest renovation being undertaken in Tai Hang is the 22-year-old Tai Hang Terrace. Ms Ho said sale prices of flats in the building were increasing, reflecting the enhanced value following the renovation. Transacted prices at Tai Hang Terrace were $6,800 per square foot to $7,000 per sq ft, up from an average of $5,800 per sq ft, Ms Ho said. The rise in values could partly be caused by the market's overall pick-up last year. Mass housing prices rose about 30 per cent while capital values in some prime districts surged nearly 40 per cent in 1996. Eric Mak Kin-yee, sales manager for Hong Kong Property Services (Agency), said renovations of several housing estates were under way. They included Beverley Heights at Cloud View Road and Fortress Garden in Fortress Hill. Mr Mak said the major one was the final phase restoration of Fortress Garden, costing more than $20 million, or $40,000 to $100,000 for each flat owner. He said property owners had agreed on the payment because they considered it an investment which could be recouped. Both transaction volumes and sale prices were increasing even though the renovation would not be completed until the middle of this year, Mr Mak said. Transacted prices had risen 12 per cent to $6,500 per sq ft from $5,800 per sq ft, he said. Taking a 700 sq ft Fortress Garden apartment as an example, the value of the flat has jumped about $500,000 to $4.55 million from $4.06 million. Fortress Garden has five blocks - one is eight years old and the other four are 16 years old. Three of the older buildings have been renovated. Despite the advantages of renovations, sometimes the price is just too high for some owners. Mr Mak cited the 21 year-old Evelyn Towers at Cloud View Road as an example. The owners' association had suggested that each flat owner contribute more than $100,000 to an extensive renovation, including the installation of recreational facilities such as a tennis court. Mr Mak said owners had rejected the proposal because of the high cost. The owners have still to work out an alternative plan. Others might doubt the value to be gained from a renovation. Mr Mak said flat owners at 18-year-old Braemar Hill Mansions, which comprises more than 900 apartments, had no plan to restore the property as sale values had remained strong. Sale prices at Braemar Hill Road had risen to $9,000 per sq ft against $7,000 per sq ft achieved in the middle of last year. Mr Mak said it was difficult to come to a consensus agreement on renovation because of the high number of owners. In Kowloon, a number of older buildings have been renovated or are being restored. They include the Twilight Court and Rockford Mansion in Broadcast Drive. In Ho Man Tin, renovation of the 17-year-old Greenfield Terrace is now under way. Other properties renovated recently in the area included the 15-year-old Perth Garden and the 20-year-old Balwin Court. Doris Tsang, sales supervisor of Midland Realty's Waterloo Road branch, said with the ageing of buildings, especially in Ho Man Tin where many buildings were built a long time ago, more owners had opted to renovate in recent years. 'When they see the capital appreciation of neighbouring properties which have been renovated, they will be inclined to have their buildings renovated as well so as to increase their property values,' she said.