We just reconfigured our home to make it family-friendly (baby!). It seems like the perfect time to share my best tips on how to stay on time and on budget, when embarking on a major renovation.
This will help!
First, determine what your key objectives are: I wanted a brighter, modern and streamlined interior that would be comfortable for a couple with a baby. I also aimed, and recommend others to as well, for a cohesive look throughout the entire home. This initial step will help you evaluate every decision you make.
- Allocate plenty of time to space planning. Test run ideas before you implement them and remember to consider the natural flow of people moving in and out of rooms. When you’re ready for furniture, tape it out! Make a plan on the floor with tape to try out different options. This exercise will help you determine where to put fixed items, install the lights, electrical outlets and switches, as well as which way the doors should open.
- The electrical and plumbing bills can add up very quickly. Make sure you know what you want as early as possible and take advantage of the open walls — it costs way less to wire a room when your walls are open. I went around room by room with the master electrician to review the the placement of outlets, 3-way switches, etc. If you’ve already bought or will buy fixtures during the rewiring, make sure to pass on the specifications of what’s required for installation. This way, the electrician can be prepared for the job and save you on time.
- Know where to splurge and where to save. It is easy to be carried away when you start renovating. See if you can repurpose or reinvent things that you already have. I saved money by painting the metal of our old dining room chandelier and the 8 sconces from our living room. Before making a purchase, answer these questions:
Will it really make a difference?
Is it something that can easily be added later?
Does it add comfort and/or convenience, or actually have a useful function?
Do you really need it or simply want it?
- I kept my best advice for last: visit the site at least once or twice a day. Trust me, if you are not there, most builders will either delay the job or make the decision for you. Check everything they’ve done before they leave the site for the day.
Being the project manager can save you money, but it is not for everyone. You need some experience, to be organized, and to be widely available. Every night, my husband and I took a tour of the site and I would write down things that needed to be fixed or done a certain way. I’d communicate my list that night or the next morning to the labourer in charge, as well as ask what they expected to have finished by end of day, and what was to follow. Lastly, make sure to ask question when coordinating different tradespeople. Do the electricians and the carpenters need to be there at the same time? Will they be stepping on each others toes?
Have you gone through your own renovation? Share your tips!