When my wife Lisa and I decided to renovate our home, it was a huge learning experience for me. We completely gutted the home and added a second story, so it was quite the project. A renovation can add great value to your home, not only for resale, but also for your own enjoyment as you benefit from living in your dream space.
If you’re thinking of taking on a renovation, there’s a lot to consider before starting the work. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Set Your Budget
Be realistic about what you can afford to spend, but don’t be afraid of the price tag. Choosing to spend more money on certain materials can give you a home that will last longer, saving you money in the long run.
And always expect the unexpected. When refinishing my basement, we discovered significant cracks in the foundation that could not be ignored. So make sure you give yourself a buffer for any unexpected and costly surprises that might be revealed during your renovation.
Prioritize Your Renovation
It’s important to take care of the bones of your home first. Things like the structure, plumbing, electrical systems, or HVAC are what’s most essential to your home’s well-being. What good is your dream basement if you have cracks in your foundation? Renovate it right, and working from the outside-in is key.
If your last renovation focused on the outside and you’re now ready for beautifying the inside of your home, don’t cut corners to save money. If your dream countertops and tiles are still out of your budget range, continue to save your money a little bit longer. I know I sound like my dad when I say this but do it right the first time. Settling for anything less than what you want will mean spending money on a redo in the near future. Not only is this a waste of money, but it’s also a waste of material that we don’t need to put into landfills.
Hire a Good Contractor
If you think it’s expensive hiring a professional, wait until you hire someone pretending to be one! You’ll end up spending more money having the right person come in to redo the shoddy work. Spend the time and do your research. A renovation is a huge investment, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right contractor for the job. Interview as many contractors as you can. Ask for references; you’ll want to check in with previous customers to find out what it was like to work with the contractor. Ask plenty of questions: Was the project completed to scope? Has their work stood the test of time? Make sure your contractor provides you with a detailed contract that is tied to milestones rather than dates. And don’t forget those permits! Things like structural changes, or relocating of plumbing or electrical will need permits. A good contractor will be well aware of these things. Try to avoid cash jobs; contractors should include their business number, or GST/HST number on the contract.
For more advice on the major red flags of hiring a bad contractor, read my dad’s tips so you can avoid a disaster.
Living in a renovation is one of the most difficult things about a renovation. My dad doesn’t call it “divorce dust” for nothing! A reno will bring about lots of stress and emotions, and even more so if you’re still living in the space. If possible, budget to live somewhere else during the whole process. Not only will it be better for your relationship, but you don’t want to be breathing in all of the demolition dust and VOCs from the products being used.
Images courtesy of the Holmes Group