With all the extra time we’re spending in our houses these days, it’s no surprise that the home renovation market is booming! With more people working remotely, we’re starting to invest in our own private spaces like never before.

When it comes to buying a home, we often focus primarily on location. After that come the home improvement plans to make our spaces more suited to our needs and style. Renovations can do wonders in increasing the value of your property, but they can also be disastrous if they don’t go to plan.

How Much Time Will The Renovation Project Take?

Keeping in mind the current state of the world, ask yourself how long you think your renovation project is going to take. Better yet, ask a professional for their opinion so you have a better idea of what realistically lies ahead. Your seemingly simple basement renovation may involve way more work than it seems to on the surface. The longer your project takes, the more time that’s required of the contractor, the more days you may need to take off work, the more time you could be displaced for as a result, the more money it could end up costing you.

What’s The Weather Forecast? 

Often overlooked, the weather forecast or time of year you’re planning to do a renovation is something you shouldn’t take lightly. As every province has its own weather patterns and seasonal ups/downs, don’t forget to take those into consideration when you’re planning. Contractors and subcontractors will likely be moving in and out of your home frequently during the renovation, so choosing to undertake a big project in the middle of the damp and muddy spring season may not be ideal. While there are easy winter home improvements you could undertake, it’s likely that you’d want to avoid replacing your roof in the middle of the winter if you live somewhere that’s going to see heavy snowfall.

How Long Will It Take To Receive Materials For The Project? 

These days, Canada Post (and most major shipping carriers) won’t make guarantees when it comes to package arrival dates or estimated shipping duration. Aside from the postal service itself, manufacturers are also seeing a severe slowdown of production due to limited capacities in work spaces, extra safety precautions, delayed material shipments etc. If you’ve got your eye on some fancy tile from Italy or custom wallpaper from the UK, you can bet you’ll have to take those timelines into consideration when it comes to planning out your renovation project.

To avoid any surprises or upsets in advance, be upfront about asking for the lead time for certain items and possible alternatives for materials so you can choose what will work best in the timeframe you have available.

How Will You Store The Materials? 

While this may seem like a silly question, people often don’t realize how much space is required to store materials for a renovation project. Whether the flooring for your living room arrives before it can be put down or your cabinets get delivered a few days earlier than anticipated, your contractor will need a space to stage things until the installation can be complete. Be prepared to set aside a weatherproof space in your garage or home to store materials for your project. If you simply don’t have space for this, look into renting a storage container you can place in your driveway or out front of your home. But remember, this will be an extra expense that’ll need to be factored into your budget.

What Are Your Housing Plans/Accommodations While Renovating? 

Some rooms are more integral than others when it comes to how you live inside your home. If you only have one kitchen and you’re planning to gut it, you’ll definitely need to set up a makeshift kitchen elsewhere during the project. If your renovations are too big or intrusive to function around, you may need to consider making plans to stay with someone else or at a hotel while the bulk of the renovations are completed. Renovation projects are never done right on time, especially not these days with all the delays and shortages due to COVID-19. Talk to your contractor about creating a realistic timeline in advance so you can determine the best course of action before you even get started.

How Messy Will Your Front Yard Be? 

Most times, big renovation projects mean multiple vehicles in your driveway, supplies in piles outside, garage space dedicated to materials, trampled grass and a general mess that seems to spill further beyond your front door no matter how much you try to contain it. Have a conversation with your contractor about your garbage/recycle pickup schedule and how they’re going to dispose of large items/heavy materials. It’s usually a smart idea to give your neighbours a heads up about your plans as well so they don’t get annoyed or frustrated by the constant noise of traffic on your property. If you’re especially worried about their reaction, it can’t hurt to sweeten the deal with a delivery of some homemade desserts as a gesture of peace beforehand. Who can be mad while eating a brownie?!

Is The Renovation In Compliance With Your Homeowner’s Association Or Planning Commission?  

If it’s applicable to you, it’s very important to look into the regulations set by your HOA before you start any renovation projects. There could be rules around when contractors can work and make noise or even portions that permit certain projects or types of property improvements. The last thing you want to do, is make an assumption that could wind up costing you thousands of dollars of setting your timeline back significantly just because you didn’t ask the right questions or read the fine print.

How Much Experience Do Your Contractors Have? 

Never skip checking references for your contractors! While every reference will inevitably have good things to say about their experience, you could gain some valuable insights into who this person is and how they work. What are their strengths? Are they punctual when it comes to timelines? How’s their communication? Was their estimate accurate? Were there any subcontractors you would recommend or highly advise avoiding? The list goes on. Don’t be afraid to check these references upfront so you can start your project off feeling confident and secure in your decision.

How Much Will The Project And Materials Cost?

Always be aware of what numbers you’re working with before you start knocking down any walls. One of the biggest mistakes you can make with home renovations is not knowing your budget up front and not having contractors who adhere to that budget. The last thing you want to do is be reminded of all the money you wasted every time you turn on the light in your new primary bedroom so put the time in at the start to plan out a realistic budget that includes extra cushioning for unexpected expenses.

Are There Warranties On Materials Or The Renovation? 

It’s always a smart decision to learn more about your contractors preferred materials and overall process when it comes to warranties. You don’t need to be an expert on the building materials, you just need to ask the right questions so the contractor has a chance to explain their rationale for selecting certain items and how they warranty projects after completion. The rest will be the peace of mind you crave.

Can You Do This Yourself Or Do You Need To Hire Professionals? 

Before you commit to completing any major projects yourself, take the time to honestly assess your skill set. Like, really assess it. You need to take a long, hard look at your strengths and weaknesses and how they’ll lend themselves to the project. If you’ve never renovated a bathroom before and you have huge plans to gut yours, it may be wise to seek consultation or professional help as you’ll run into a lot of aspects that could wreak havoc with your time, budget and overall satisfaction with the space if they aren’t completed properly.

Is The Renovation Worth It? 

Before you start making any big changes to your home, you need to ask yourself if the house has value in it beforehand. If you’re unsure about how much value a renovation will add to your property or whether or not it’s worth exploring, you may want to look at homes for sale in the neighbourhood to get a better idea of the area’s value or speak with your REALTOR® for some industry expertise when it comes to your overall property value or loan-to-value ratio.

What Is Your Budget? 

Seriously, though. Renovation costs can add up fast, especially when you aren’t sure how much materials and labour cost. Start by making a wish list and a must-have list. It’s important to understand the difference between what you’d love to have versus what you literally need to function properly in the space. Once you budget all the must-haves, you can add in a few wish list items if you have the flexibility. Renovations can often come with unforeseen expenses so make sure you have some extra cash set aside to allot for those if they come up. Whether it’s an unexpected electrical issue, an unexpected plumbing surprise or an appliance that simply stops working when you reinstall it, there are a lot of big expenses that could catch you off guard and derail your whole project if you don’t see them coming.

Are You Planning On Selling Your Home In The Near Future?

Before you do any renovation, ask yourself: “Is this for me and my long-term enjoyment in this home or is this to generate the maximum value for resale in the near future?” If it’s strictly to make you happy and help you enjoy your space longer, then do whatever makes you happy, but keep an eye on neighbourhood home values so you don’t over invest. If your renovation is more strategic in the sense that you want the best bang for your resale buck, you may have to sacrifice a bit of your personal taste to end up with a finished product that will have more mass appeal when it comes to new buyers.

No matter how big or small your renovation project may seem, there’s a lot of work that goes into making it a success. As with any other big investment, make sure you do your homework, consult professionals, talk to a REALTOR®, pre-source materials and don’t forget to have fun along the way. Home renovations may be stressful, but they should also be enjoyable! If you’re considering renovating your home, taking the proper steps from the start can ensure a smooth and successful end result that will add value to your home for years to come.