Let’s face it- unless you’re the sort of person who buys a house, fixes it up, and then flips it before moving on to a new house to do the same thing, a major renovation is something you’re likely to undertake maybe once or twice in your lifetime. There are plenty of pitfalls that you don’t know how to avoid without experience, so let us help you make your renovating experience as painless as possible!
Most people don’t have the skills, equipment, or time to successfully renovate their own home. And even if there are some jobs that you feel confident in undertaking yourself, such as laying a new floor, there are others- such as plumbing or electrical work- that are much better left to the pros! But how do you find the right team to hire? Shop around. Even if you end up going back to the first contractor you contacted, you should never sign a contract until you’ve compared their bid to at least two others, and don’t rule out looking at up to six offers. Insist on not just a lump sum bid, but one that breaks it down into materials and labour for each component of the job. That way you can see if Contractor A is estimating enough for your concrete countertops, or if Contractor C has not given a realistic cost for the vinyl plank floors you envision for your finished basement. And always get references from previous clients! There’s no better way to gauge whether you will be happy with the final product.
No matter what your upper limit is, don’t budget to the last dollar!
Renovation is expensive. Whether you’re doing one room or the whole house, labour and material costs add up fast.
Be realistic about what you can afford, whether it’s being paid out of your savings or a home renovation loan or mortgage. Then make your plans accordingly. If you can’t afford to do the whole house, decide what your priorities are. If it’s an up-to-date kitchen and bathrooms, focus on that and wait until later to do the rest. If you want an addition with a great room and huge deck, do that and give the rest of the house a fresh coat of paint and new laminate floors to freshen it up for a reasonable cost. And no matter what your upper limit is, don’t budget to the last dollar! Make sure that you leave yourself a cushion of 15-20% for the surprises that inevitably crop up in the middle of the renovations.
It’s tempting to go for the lowest-cost materials to stretch your renovation dollars, but that can be a huge mistake. For instance, plastic laminate cupboard doors in the kitchen may look sharp in the showroom, but they will not have the staying power of more expensive wooden doors. While the laminate will soon show signs of wear and tear, properly finished wooden doors will look good for much longer, and can be refreshed with a new paint job or re-stained and sealed for much less than the cost of replacing those cheaper laminate doors.
You may look at your bathroom and decide that this should be easy- just pull out the old fixtures, install new ones, lay a tile floor and repaint the walls and you’re done!
You would be wrong. If you are going to the trouble and expense of replacing everything, be prepared to go one step further and take your bathroom down to the studs. It’s the only way to determine if there are any underlying problems that need to be fixed first, such as mold lurking in the walls or faulty wiring. This is why you need to keep that extra 15-20% of your budget available- until you look, you won’t know for sure what you’re dealing with.
You should definitely spend some quality time with design magazines and websites such as Pinterest while making your plans for renovations. It’s a great way to refine your preferences with real-life examples, and can help you and your contractor determine priorities. However, those sources are full of the very latest in design trends, and you should avoid falling for fads. Have you ever looked at a house and decided against buying it because of pink bathroom fixtures or marble floors? You can never go wrong with the classics, whether you’re planning to stay in your home indefinitely or are considering selling in the near future. Pure white bathroom fittings and hardwood floors are classics that never go out of style! A major renovation is a huge commitment. Make sure that yours goes as smoothly as possible: while it’s always going to be messy, disruptive, and expensive, avoiding these common errors will make the end result everything that you’ve dreamed of!
avoid falling for fads
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Surely we’re all familiar with what can happen if you don’t have flooring that can withstand water. No matter how fast you can wipe it up, the liquid will quickly seep down into the floor, leading to staining, warping, mold and even damaging the ceilings below in extreme circumstances. If you’re looking at installing new flooring, consider the options available to you in both traditional and newly developed surfaces! You may end up waterproofing your whole house!