Whether you just purchased a home or have been living there for years, the decision to renovate is not to be taken lightly. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories… or have even watched a reality show or two on the subject, which opens up a whole new jar of fears about budget, hiring the right crew, skeletons in the walls, etc, etc. It’s true that not every renovation goes well, but you should also know; not all renovations end in disaster.
With careful planning, the right experts, and some patience your reno is likely to go smoothly. Our goal today is to focus on the planning, so you and your family can come out of this as strong and beautiful as your home.
FIGURE OUT THE BUDGET
Like all consumer spending, it’s best to pay for your renovation through savings. The reason is two-fold:
- By saving the money, you’re much likelier to stay on budget, since it took so much time saving it.
- By not dipping into loans or lines of credit, you keep those options open for emergencies.
Another great way to pay for your renovations is through rebates. If you’re planning any kind of extensive renovation, it’s worth considering energy efficiency upgrades. There are rebates available from the city of Edmonton, from the province of Alberta, and our federal government; helping to pay for new furnaces, windows, insulation, appliances, and more. You should know that in most cases, to get access to the rebates you need to have a home-energy-audit. This test will tell you how efficient your home currently is (or isn’t), and where you should upgrade. Then after the work is done, the audit is repeated to see how much more efficient your home is.
THEN PLAN TO OVERSPEND
A study of over 2 million homeowners has shown us that we almost always set unrealistically low budgets for a renovation. The two biggest reasons costs are underestimated is: (1) not researching how much tradespeople charge and (2) upgrading on finishes before checking where you are in the budget. Some examples of our overspending:
- The average kitchen renovation in Edmonton costs between $20,000-$23,000. However, homeowners typically budget $14,500 for the kitchen.
- Fence’s are also grossly underestimated. On average Canadians budget about $4,200 but actual costs come in closer to $11,700. About $39 per linear foot.
- New flooring budgets are usually set for $3,300 but cost an average of $8,500.
In order to set a realistic home reno budget, be sure to get multiple quotes, answer their questions honestly, and always add 20% to the top. We used to suggest 10%, but it turns out our estimating is off more than that.
DON’T START TOO SOON
Jumping the gun can get a lot of homeowners into trouble, especially if you just moved in. You’ll want to live in your home for a while first to learn the flow. Knowing where you put the groceries when you come in, or where the laundry goes can make a huge difference. Even learning where and how the sun hits your home is important. For example, if you notice you get a lot of afternoon sun in your kitchen, you may not want to use quartz countertops as the sun can damage the stone.
RESEARCH YOUR PRO’S
When it comes to trades there is some classic advice that still stands strong today, including:
- Get at least three quotes.
- Don’t go for the lowest bid.
- Talk to and get to know the professional to ensure they’re a good fit.
Keep in mind it’s ok to ask for references, just make sure you follow up on them too. Check out online reviews and even their social media page. If there are bad reviews or comments, see how the business handled the complaints.
STICK TO THE PLANS
Unless something troubling or expensive comes up, try not to make changes along the way. Some changes may seem simple, but require a lot of work behind the scenes. Even moving a light switch a few feet can cost up to $1,500. Derailing from your plans usually ends up costing too much money and time to be worth it.