July 17, 2024

Home renovation tips that never go out of style

Home renovation tips that never go out of style

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I love renovating and construction and always enjoy talking about it. Styles, colours, and trends come and go, but the basics stay the same. Today, many people are choosing to stay in their homes rather than move; so, I think it’s important for me to remind homeowners to renovate the right way.

Home renovations can be significant or as simple as making cosmetic updates to furniture or paint colour. No matter what, taking your time, having a realistic budget and understanding what you really want are essentials.

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Before you start, it’s important to define your goals and expectations for the project. Are you looking for a new look to improve functionality, increase energy efficiency, or fix some unresolved issues? Your renovation will go much smoother if you have a well-defined plan.

Do a cost analysis before you do anything. Renovations can be expensive, so you must understand everything required for your project — materials, products, labour, and demolition. The larger the job, the more money it will be — remember to have a slush fund for contingencies. 

Your research will give you a sense of the timeline your project will require. Proper planning is essential, like factoring the time it takes to select materials, fixtures and finishes. This may take several rounds before making a final decision, so be patient with the process. Also don’t forget to factor in material delivery times.

And always be prepared for the unexpected. Thinking that you won’t have any hiccups is unrealistic — you shouldn’t have many, but there will likely be something. Whether it’s a product or fixture that is unavailable or perhaps something more serious, like an issue that is revealed behind a wall — a slow leak that has caused mould or structural damage. This is common in older homes that haven’t been renovated in a while. So be prepared, especially when it comes to electrical compliance.

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Simple things like painting a wall, updating a cupboard with door hardware, or even wallpapering can be accomplished by a DIYer. More complicated tasks can sometimes be done by a seasoned handy person, but know your limitations. If it’s beyond your skill set, hire a pro. 

Also there are certain jobs like plumbing, electrical and HVAC that I would never recommend a homeowner do themselves no matter how skilled they are. These are jobs best left to licensed professionals.

How do you know you’ve hired the right person? That comes with research, asking questions and understanding what you want. Check credentials, ask for references, and ensure they have the licences and insurance. The “interview” process is an essential step for both parties. Ultimately, you want someone you can trust to come into your home and do the work properly. 

Get everything in writing, even small jobs. Everything must be a line item, including specific products, materials, finishes, fixtures, labour, etc. Ask if there are any exclusions. What are the terms and conditions, payment structure? How are disputes or delays addressed? What are the warranties? Don’t assume anything. If you don’t see it in the contract, ask about it.

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Not all renovations require permits and not all permits are the same. You will need permits if there are any structural changes, plumbing changes, electrical changes, or upgrades. A building permit is different from an electrical permit. Building permits are obtained through the local building authority. Other types of permits may be obtained through different provincial governing bodies; in Ontario, for example all electrical permits must be obtained through the Electrical Safety Authority and in B.C., through Technical Safety BC. Not getting the necessary permits leaves homeowners vulnerable to costly fines and complications during the renovation. It’s not worth the headache or the risk to you and your family.

Sustainable and energy-efficient renovations are becoming increasingly popular, and it makes sense that everything costs more in today’s economy. Incorporating energy-efficient features into your project, such as improved insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and eco-friendly building practices, will reduce your carbon footprint and lower energy costs.

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If you are planning a renovation — it needs to make sense, so adding functionality to your renovated space is a no-brainer. Will it meet your family’s needs both now and in the future? Don’t be short-sighted. Time can move quickly, and change can happen when you least expect it. If you can, consider accessibility, especially if you plan to age-in-place, with features such as wider doorways, barrier-free showers, and well-placed lighting.

Home renovations and improvements can be overwhelming, but with the right planning and preparedness, your project should be a success. Keep these tips in mind, along with regular check-ins, inspections, and open communication with your point person. This will help you have a successful renovation project no matter how big or small the job is.

Tagline for online/National Post — Residents of the GTA can apply for Holmes on Homes: Building A Legacy at makeitright.ca.

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