Thinking About Renovations? Read This First

Getting Started On Your Renovation

Renovating your home is exciting and rewarding-whether you make modest changes in one or two rooms, or you transform the entire house into the dream of a lifetime.

A successful renovation is a team effort between you and the renovation professionals that you hire. For best results, you will want to involve the professionals up-front, but before you call for estimates, you need to do some homework. Decide in advance what you want and how much you intend to spend. Then you will be able to give the renovators the information they need in order to provide you with the best possible advice and the most accurate estimates of cost.

Decide What You Want

  • What is the main purpose of your renovation? (For instance, do you want to add extra space, upgrade the kitchen, improve the security of your home, make adaptations for health reasons, or generally improve your living areas?)
  • What are your options? (For instance, do you need an addition or can you redesign existing floor space to create more room?)
  • What is unique about your home (room/space) that you would like to keep?
  • What do you definitely want to change?
  • Get input from all members of your household. What are their needs and wants?
  • Consider both the short-term and long-term implications of your decisions are your needs likely to change in the future?

Collect Ideas and Information

  • Establish a renovation file for clippings, photos, brochures, etc.
  • Study magazines and books to get an idea of the “look” that you want.
  • Visit home shows, talk with renovators and manufacturers’ sales representatives, examine products and materials, note prices and collect more ideas.
  • Visit manufacturers’ and suppliers’ showrooms (e.g. kitchens and bathrooms).
  • Talk to relatives, friends and co-workers who have renovated. What have they learned? What would they recommend?
  • Contact government agencies and industry associations for information on home renovation.

Determine How Much You Want To Spend

At this early point in the process, you will not know how much your renovations will cost, but you need to have some idea of what you can and want to spend. Homeowners often finance renovations through a combination of savings, short-term loans and mortgages, taking advantage of the existing equity in their home. Talk with several financial institutions to figure out your options. Consider the following:

  • the amount of your savings
  • the costs associated with the renovation, including new furniture, fixtures and appliances
  • the amount you can, or are willing to, borrow
  • the total amount you are prepared to spend

Consult with:

The Professional Renovator – Your final plans are the basis for getting bids from professional renovators. Going from the “ideas stage” to final plans often happens in several steps, as you explore the feasibility of getting what you want within your budget. You may wish to contact one or more professional renovators in the initial stages of your renovation planning to get a better idea of cost and how best to proceed with your project.

Professional renovators can provide “ballpark” estimates for rough ideas, advise you on the need for design or architectural services, and tell you how you can best prepare the information required to get accurate bids. They can also advise you on the kinds of work that homeowners typically are able to do themselves to stretch their budget, and they can help you to develop a long-term plan if you wish to renovate your home in stages.

The Real Estate Appraiser – If you are concerned about payback on your investment and you don’t want to exceed the value of similar homes in your neighbourhood, talk to a professional real estate appraiser before you start renovating. The appraiser can establish the current value of your home, and of comparable homes in the area, and determine how the planned renovation will affect the value of your home. The appraiser will also be able to advise you on the types of renovations that offer the greatest payback value.

The Home Inspector – A pre-renovation inspection by an independent home inspector can help you to evaluate the overall condition of your home, and to set priorities for current and future renovation projects. The inspector can identify repair work and equipment replacement that may be needed in the short or long term. A copy of the inspector’s report should be provided to the professional renovators asked to bid on your project. Some major centres have a local chapter of the Canadian Home Inspectors Association, or you can contact your local government for the names of reputable home inspectors in your area.

Article – Get the Most From Your Renovation Dollars
Article – Renovation Trends
Article – The “Golden Rules” of Renovating
Article – Choosing A Renovation Contractor