There is a lot to consider when renovating your home – we have put together a few important points here
Home renovations can breathe new life into beloved spaces. Whether it’s a small DIY project, a complete remodel, or regular home maintenance, a plan can help homeowners stay on track and on budget.
Here are some steps to make the most of your renovation projects.
Prioritization of projects
“Choose renovations that add value to the home,” said Brad Lambert, owner of Airdries Second Generation Exteriors.
Focus first on areas that improve the building envelope, such as B. Windows or doors that let in cold air, inadequate ventilation or plumbing, roofs, trim, and outdated electrical circuits.
“It’s better to be proactive and tackle upcoming renovations than superficial renovations,” Lambert said. “Your freshly painted walls will be destroyed if that 30-year-old roof leaks. Be sure to prioritize what is necessary over what is wanted.”
Start by taking inventory of everything you want to change. According to the Canadian Home Builders‘ Association (CHBA), this should include “must have” repairs, maintenance and remodeling, as well as “wishes” that would be nice to have but can be scrapped if the budget is tight.
Address your “wants” by considering which areas have the most functional issues, e.g. B. if your family is constantly fighting over a bathroom or a dark room that needs more lighting.
The frequency of use of the room should also be decisive. When it comes to remodeling a rarely used guest bedroom or the master bedroom, prioritize the master suite.
Finally, acknowledge any areas that are bothering you. If you can’t stand the laminate countertops and have the budget to tackle them, remove this thorn from your side.
Identify specific features to include in the project and determine their importance. This should include ‘must haves’ – the things you don’t want to rely on – and ‘wishes’.
Visit chba.ca and select Planning, Design & Budget under the Renovation tab for more information and planning worksheets.
According to a 2019 CIBC survey, of the 49 percent of Canadians planning a home renovation this year, only 32 percent had a detailed budget for the improvements. The survey found that 39 percent of those who recently completed renovations went over budget.
It’s important to keep the resale value of the home in mind when creating a budget. “For example, the kitchen accounts for 10 to 15 percent of a property’s value,” according to the National Bank. “If a house is worth $300,000, then it should cost $30,000 to $45,000 to renovate the kitchen.”
Your budget must include the cost of materials, professional handyman fees, permit and inspection fees, and any additional insurance coverage required for the renovation.
The National Bank proposes to spend half of the renovation costs on labor costs. While you may be able to stretch the budget by doing some of the work yourself, it’s best to leave anything structural or mechanical to the professionals.
“Anything that requires a skilled trade should be diagnosed and repaired by a qualified trade,” Lambert said. “There are many ‘all-rounders’. Don’t think they can do everything from plumbing to electrical work. Make sure whoever is doing the work is an approved and qualified tradesman in their specific field.”
Another important aspect is planning for unexpected expenses. The National Bank recommends setting aside 15 percent of total renovation costs in an emergency budget.
“There are always parts of a renovation that are unpredictable when your contractor is pricing you,” Lambert said. “However, an experienced contractor should be able to anticipate some of these unforeseen costs and at least provide a budget price for these repairs should they occur.”
Even the most outdated house has hidden value. When renovating, look for ways to rework old, high-quality materials like hardwood, crown molding, and doors, and to work with the space you have.
“For example, homeowners sometimes assume they need additional floor space when all that might be needed is more effectively designed space,” CHBA said. “By rearranging interior walls, eliminating separations, or adding larger windows, a lower-cost renovation can often create the desired sense of space and light.”
Consider mid-range materials with good reviews. If you want to spend yourself in high-impact areas, offset the expensive purchases by saving in less influential parts of the home.
Try to buy devices when they are on sale, which is usually around September and October for most larger devices. However, new fridge models are launched in spring and retailers tend to download older models in May.
Retailers will eventually update kitchen or bathroom display displays and this is a great time to buy these products for less than the original price.
“Try to get estimates and prices from contractors during the off-season,” Lambert said. “Contractors like to fill out their schedule ahead of the season and are much more lenient on pricing when securing future work rather than homeowners expecting you to show up next week.”
Find out about grants, loans, and rebates offered by government and utility companies to offset energy-efficient renovations. Alberta’s Clean Energy Improvement Program offers funding of up to 100 percent of project costs with reimbursement through property tax bills, while the Canada Greener Homes Grant offers up to $5,600 for eligible participants.
“While many of today’s DIY products are designed to make it easy for DIYers, other projects require specific skills,” explained CHBA. “Seeing something done on a renovation show on TV is not the same as having hands-on experience. Hitting yourself over the head can end up costing more money and frustration than seeking professional help in the first place.”
A general contractor is your project manager and will secure work permits and take care of supplies, hiring and scheduling of subcontractors. They also help you understand the scope of the project, the budget, and the timeline.
“If your main reason for doing it yourself is to save money, talk to a contractor before making a final decision,” recommends CHBA. “An experienced renovator or handyman may be able to suggest ways to reduce the cost of your project and still seek professional services if you lack the time or skills.”
Not all contractors are the same, which is why it’s extra important that you trust the person you hire.
The Consumer Affairs Bureau suggests homeowners consider at least three potential contractors. Ask how long they’ve been in business, similar projects they’ve been involved in, the time it takes to complete the renovation, and permitting and inspection requirements.
Lambert said homeowners should also check if the contractor is a member of a relevant association and see if the prospective contractor has a consistent online presence and good reviews.
“These are all signs that the company is legitimate and stands behind its performance,” he said.
Discuss whether to include subcontractors, liability insurance or workers’ compensation (WCB) insurance that may be required, and suppliers who use it. The contractor should also provide references and contact information from recent clients.
“Ensuring that the contractor has proper WCB, licenses and insurance would be part of the homeowner’s duty of care and should be promptly presented by the contractor upon request,” advised Lambert.
Get estimates in writing and ensure they are calculated using the same specifications for effective comparison. Tenders should include a full description of the work, type and quality of materials, commencement and completion dates, individual and total costs, a statement of any warranties given by the contractor and the required mode of payment.
“When reviewing bids and selecting a contractor, make sure you fully understand the contractor’s scope of work,” Lambert said. “Sometimes the cheapest offer is the cheapest for a reason – things are overlooked or not included. In the end, the cheapest offer is the most expensive.”
Once a contractor is selected, ensure that a written contract includes a detailed project plan that states exactly what you and the contractor have agreed upon.
“A contract is the best way to protect yourself and ensure things go as planned – in fact, it’s a valuable part of what a professional contractor provides,” explained CHBA.
A simple work order may be sufficient for minor home repairs, but complex repairs or major renovation projects require a detailed contract that includes full plans and specifications. A private owner’s guide to renovation contracts is available on chba.ca by selecting ‘Contracts’ under the ‘Renovate’ tab.
“Expectations should be set on both sides before work begins so there are no surprises,” Lambert said.