Convert an unused space

The Makaum family of Bloemfontein converted an old storage room into a self-contained flatlet. Yvette Makaum answers a few questions:

How much did you spend?  It cost about R45 000 in total. We modernised the small bathroom and kitchen and redid the ceilings and windows. 

What are the advantages of living on the same property as your rental? Logistically, it’s easier to receive guests at home. You don’t always know what time they will arrive and this way you can carry on with tasks while you wait for them. 

Safety tips? My guests’ safety is my primary concern! We have a separate alarm system for the main house and the Airbnb unit.

Lessons learnt? You must manage your diary very carefully to avoid double bookings, especially if you rent through different companies. I also rent privately.

Any advice for other homeowners? Go for it! I earn more money compared to a fixed monthly rental. My husband was against it at first, but now he wishes we had another unit we could rent out! Our unit is separate from the main house; I wouldn’t take guests into my own home.

Freestanding Airbnb units

Freestanding units work well on Airbnb as guests have more privacy as compared to flats attached to homes. Host and homeowner Candice Theunissen of Cape Town shares her tips:

Pros and cons of freestanding units? The added privacy that a freestanding unit affords guests and homeowners is a major bonus. However, if it is situated too far away, it can be challenging to stock up on essentials and receive guests. 

Guest preparations? Our guests get fancier stuff than we have at home! Don’t use your ‘leftovers’ for décor or furnishings!

An amazing cleaner who you can trust to deliver high levels of cleanliness, and who will let you know if something is starting to look shoddy, is an absolute must. Just one hair in the basin makes a guest think the whole place is dirty. 

Be sure you enjoy interacting with people too as Airbnb is a community. 

Décor tips? While neutrals such as white are great for linen and towels, avoid being too plain and safe in style as there’s heaps of competition on Airbnb and people like something quirky and unique. 

Lessons learned? Have three sets of everything for a quick turnaround time – and a tumble dryer if you need to wash and dry on site. Lock your linen and guest supplies away, but leave a key hidden in the unit for the cleaner or in case someone needs access to a change of linen.

Keep a detailed house manual with instructions on all appliances. “How does the TV work?” will be the question that sends you over the edge if you repeat yourself all the time!

TOP TIP Stay in the unit as a guest to see what their experience would be like: park, check-in, cook, sleep and check-out.

Become an Airbnb Superhost

If you’re committed to hosting guests and building a stable income from rentals, it’s crucial that you become an Airbnb Superhost. This is a badge of honour that shows you’re serious about what you’re doing, explains Andrew Black, who’s been a Superhost for four years and manages 40 properties together with a partner.

Any advice on being a Superhost? Make no mistake, maintaining Superhost status year-on-year demands very high standards across the spectrum: attention to detail, cleanliness, punctuality, communication and overall professionalism.     

Which properties are most popular? Every single type of property is available on Airbnb – it simply depends on your budget. You can find anything you want, whether your budget is R500 or R50 000 a night. Most homes are booked by two to four travellers at a time, so you’ll find the bulk of all bookings happen in places with one to two bedrooms but there are countless variables and options that determine which homes are most popular in any given season.    

Safety tips? Airbnb offers a range of booking parameters that give you control over who can book – from Instant Book (which means anyone can book at any time, without even asking the host) to one where nobody can book without asking you first. Hosts can also set parameters such as “I’ll only accept guests who’ve been recommended by other hosts”.

Any funny stories? Communication between hosts and guests is incredibly important – for instance, you wouldn’t want to walk into your home expecting an empty space... only to lock eyes with two lovers in 'full song' on your living room couch. 

Lessons learned? I’ve learned that, on the whole, people are infinitely more kind, respectful and courteous than I’d ever have imagined. The small acts of thoughtfulness completely eclipse the negatives, to such a degree that doing this work has restored my faith in humanity.     

Superhost requirements:

  • Completed at least 10 trips OR successfully completed three long-term reservations that total at least 100 nights.
  • Maintained a 50% review rate or higher.
  • Maintained a 90% response rate or higher.
  • Zero cancellations, with exceptions made for those that fall under our Extenuating Circumstances policy.
  • Maintain a 4.8 overall rating.
Want to know more?
Later this year, Home will be hosting a conference in conjunction with Airbnb for homeowners who are keen to rent out accommodation on their property. Are you interested? Email editor@homemag.co.za.