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  • Writer's pictureK Monk

How to Prepare For a Renovation - 4 Helpful Tips

Home renovations require preparation. Otherwise, delays and stress – as well as higher costs – are sure to follow. Read on to learn how to prepare for renovating your home.

What are we renovating and why?

The first step in any remodel is to determine what space you would like to remodel, and why you would like to upgrade it.

Its always good to ask the questions: What is the purpose of the renovation?

Is it so you can sell your house? Is it to make the space more comfortable? Are additional family members moving in? Are you updating your decor? Are you fixing a problem? Questions like these will get to the real reason for the renovation and that will help with design decisions and also guide you through the next step: creating your budget.

Create your budget

Most people will start designing and come up with a budget after the fact. Avoid the pitfalls of doing this! A budget should really come first before getting into the nitty gritty of your designs. In determining a budget keep in mind that cost overruns are common and many experts advise a 15 – 20% cushion to help with unexpected costs. What would these include? Well we don’t know, because they are unexpected!

Every home and renovation is unique, and there are always challenges to solve along the way. Keep in mind, the style and age of home, the extent of the renovation, and your decisiveness will all factor in to having a project that stays on budget.

If you are hiring a contractor, don’t be afraid to tell them your budget. This can actually save you money. A good contractor can provide advice that can end up saving money in the long run, and they can tailor their quote to reflect your budget. During construction, be mindful of making too many changes as this will increase costs.

As mentioned earlier, your budget will be guided by why you are renovating. For example, if this is your forever home then you might want to splurge on the custom details. However, if you are planning to sell, then you might want to stick with the basics, and get the most return from your investment.

Come up with a design

Now that you have your budget in place its time to get a real firm idea of what you want. There are numerous examples on Pinterest and Google images. Come up with a folder (digital or hardcopy) that you can use to convey your ideas to a contractor, designer, or spouse. Imagine trying to explain a haircut to your hairdresser, pictures make it much easier! As a contractor myself, we use 3D modelling software that can produce examples for clients that need custom features, this helps them visualize their ideas to scale.

Designing is usually the most enjoyable part of the process, but it can also be the most stressful too! Why? Because it’s the transition between dreaming and reality. Some people hesitate to pull the trigger on decisions and it ends up costing more in time and money down the road. Here’s an example:

A customer was getting her ensuite bathroom fully renovated, right down to the studs. During the design/planning stage, she couldn’t decide on what vanity to purchase. It came down to basically the difference between a light and dark grey. The project went ahead anyway, thinking the vanity could always go in later anyhow. When the time came to finally make the decision, the vanity she chose was now backordered 4 months. She had to find a new one in a short amount of time, or wait the 4 months. She could have saved a lot of headache by just making up her mind. In the grand scheme of things, a shade or two either way wasn’t going to make a big difference in the overall look she was going for.

So yeah, avoid the tendency to think that every decision is life or death. Get the advice you need, make the decision and don’t look back. Trust the process and when it all comes together you will be happy!

Just a couple thoughts on larger renovations: Spend the few hundred bucks to get drawings made up. These should include a floor plan, electrical plan, and possibly some elevation views. This is extremely helpful in getting an apples to apples comparison when getting quotes, it makes the permit process much smoother, it shows your serious, and in return you will be taken more seriously. But the main benefit is having a reference to go by and getting exactly what you want in the process.

Establish a Timeline

Timelines are very important. Its helpful to have a start date, and a tentative end date. If you are hiring a contractor to do the work, they can provide you with a schedule, usually based on weeks. If you are doing the work yourself its also important to keep you motivated so the project doesn’t drag on and on.

Timelines are like budgets, they sometimes go over. So be prepared for this. Unexpected problems, changing the scope (adding extra work), delays in shipping, delays in inspections/permits, and even bad weather, can all add up. I’ve heard some say that you should double the time you think it should take. While this may be true for a DIYer, a contractor should be closer to the completion date.

As the starting date approaches it would be good to do some additional preparation. Clean furniture or unnecessary items out of the area under construction. Have a plan for meals if your kitchen will be immobilized. Have a plan to deal with the debris and garbage that will accumulate during the project. Have poly and zipper doors ready to keep the dust out.

In conclusion, renovating your home can be a daunting task. However, by following the tips outlined above, you can make sure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.

Start by determining what and why you are renovating, set a budget, start designing, and create a detailed timeline (don’t forget to factor in extra time for unexpected delays).

Finally, make sure that you are prepared for the renovation both financially and emotionally. With the proper preparation, you can ensure that your home renovation project goes as planned, and you will get the desired results. Happy renovating!

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