Renovating or building a new home is a great emotional investment as well as a financial investment. We all love an inspirational before and after picture showing a once tired, dated and sometimes derelict property transformed into a new, modern day space; yet the process in getting there is often overlooked. Those images often don’t expose the time, money, and commitment spent to get there or the countless issues that likely arose along the way!
Spring is a popular time to begin a renovation and having worked on more home renovation projects than we can remember, we know a fair bit about the do’s and don’ts to help for a smoother ride! We’ve seen it all and want to share our top tips for homeowners about to embark on a home renovation…
Assemble a Good Team
Choosing an experienced and efficient team you can trust is key to running a successful project. Be careful not to hire the cheapest interior designer, architect or contractor. Hiring quality professionals may seem costly at the outset meaning you may need to cut back on something else, but we guarantee they will save you money in the long run.
Always check online reviews and always request proof of the contractor’s license, certificate of insurance. Once you choose your team, make sure you sign an air-tight contract that lists a timeline, payment schedule, potential penalties for missed deadlines, and details on all work being done.
Determine your budget and scope of works before you begin
We can’t stress how important this is. Before you begin any sort of demolition work, have your scope of work and budget for your project in place first and stick to it! We have seen people (including some of our clients) go against this piece of advice and every time their project ends up becoming far more stressful than necessary.
Yes, there may be occasions where changes are necessary, however this should be avoided where possible. It will never be cost effective and changes often have a domino effect on other areas of your renovation that you may not consider at the time, resulting in longer completion times, increased cost and higher stress levels!
Forecast budget and timeline contingencies
Be prepared for “worst-case scenarios” because, inevitably, they happen. You’ve probably heard it’s a good idea to add a 15 to 20 percent contingency to your budget to allow for some wiggle room. We advise you do the same for your project timeline too!
Make and finalize selections early
Avoid making major decisions under pressure by making selections on materials, fixtures, finishes and appliances early on. Do your research and be sure to keep on top of product availability and lead times. Being asked for a rushed decision along the way often puts you under unnecessary pressure and inevitably affects your project budget or timeline, resulting in a negative impact on your desired result. By putting together a project specification using a spreadsheet or software program, you can track when selections are needed and when they need to be chosen.
This part of the project can be overwhelming and a good interior designer will do all the legwork for you, making the process less intimidating and more manageable to achieve the very best results.
Conduct site visits – but don’t get in the way!
Conduct site visits regularly to check project progress but be careful not to interrogate or get in the way of contractors onsite. By assembling a trusted team and signing of the budget and scope of work early, you should be able to trust that everything is going as planned. Nevertheless, if there is a problem, take a step back and consult with whoever is managing your project, whether it be your interior designer, architect or builder. Never talk directly to anyone but your project manager. This will cause confusion, risking wires being crossed and often ends up with expensive mistakes.
Invest in building materials
It’s never fun paying for things you can’t see. That being said, we advise you never skimp on the fundamental elements of your home — the foundation, structure, insulation, waterproofing, mechanicals, etc. There are other areas of your home where the budget can be cut if necessary. It’s crucial that you invest in the fundamentals to get a solid, dependable, water-tight home that stays that way for your life-time.
Know where to save money
If your budget is creeping up and you need to trim costs, you can save a by making small adjustments to the finish. Any elements that have potential to be easily upgraded at a later date are good areas to save in. For example, keeping the paint job simple by using less colours and swapping high-end appliances and fixtures for more moderately priced options.
Often things don’t go as planned on a home renovation, making it stressful process, especially when budget and timeline get squeezed. To help manage stress, try to visualize the end result and maintain a calm, positive attitude throughout the process. It will all be worth it in the end!