For most, renovations are simply an opportunity to freshen up an old space. However, it’s also a chance to upgrade your home in many ways. Before you blow your budget on your next renovation, here are my tips on where you should be spending your money and where you should pull back.
SPLURGE: A Better Roof
A good quality roof is worth the cost. For me, the ultimate roof is metal. It’s recyclable, it’s strong and it’s long lasting. A metal roof can be made to fit almost any aesthetic, as there are some that mimic the look of traditional shingles. While you’re splurging, adding a new roof is a good time to think about adding some solar panels too. Even if the panels are out of the budget right now, you can still do the rough-in for them, so that when you’re ready to take the plunge, you’re not retrofitting your new roof to accommodate them.
SAVE: Refinishing vs. Replacing
When you’re tackling a big renovation project, it’s natural to think about doing a full gut and replacing everything. But before you do that, take a step back and look at what can be refreshed instead of totally replaced. Things like cabinets can be made to look new with a fresh coat of paint. If you already have hardwood flooring, they may be salvageable if you resurface them. Save your money by taking a critical look at what absolutely needs to be replaced versus what you can salvage.
SPLURGE: The Right Team
While I know there are a lot of people out there who love tackling their own DIY projects, when it comes to big renovations, I always recommend you hire the right team to do the work. When you’re making upgrades that require opening up walls, altering plumbing or messing with the electrical, you want to ensure it’s being done properly. You want a licensed contractor who you can trust to do the job properly. Don’t just pick the cheapest quote. Make sure they’re up to the task before you hire.
SAVE: 20% of Your Total Budget
Unless you’re really lucky, when you start a project, you’ll have a renovation budget. One of the biggest mistakes I see homeowners make is setting their budget and then choosing appliances and finishes that hit their cap. It doesn’t sound like a problem, but it really can be. A renovation can uncover unforeseen issues, especially when you’re opening up the walls. If you uncover an issue, where’s the money going to come from to fix it? For this reason, I always recommend homeowners save about 20 per cent of their total budget to fix those unpredictable issues. The good news is: if the project is smooth sailing, once the major work is complete, you can look at using any extra money for some final upgrades or better finishes.
SPLURGE: Energy Efficiency
. When upgrading your HVAC, kitchen or basement, opt for appliances that consume less energy than traditional models. They tend to be a little more expensive up front, but you’ll end up saving money in the long run with your lower energy bills. If you’re getting a new furnace unit, also look into having your ducts sealed. If there are gaps in your ductwork, your HVAC will have to work overtime to provide enough heating or cooling to your home. I had my ducts professionally sealed a few years ago and I could feel the results immediately.
I’m talking about things like your fixtures, wainscoting and door hardware here. I’m not saying to cheap out completely on your finishes, but spend your money wisely. These are easy upgrades you can do later on when you want to freshen up your space. Your primary concern is to make sure the room you’re upgrading is done right.
SPLURGE: That One Item
Now I know I just said to skimp on the finishes, but there is one exception. Find one spot in your project where you can afford to go a little bit bigger. Whether it’s better quality countertops, a nicer stove or a beautiful lighting fixture, find something that will make you happy every time you enter the room. When my son takes on a project, he always adds a customized piece to the room. That’s where he spends his time and money. Don’t build the whole room with this mindset, but I believe that each renovation should have one splurge item.