More often than not, new buyers of a home are likely to embark on some renovations. Having been a homeowner myself for 32 years and in the real estate business for 21 years, I’ve seen a lot! There are plenty of DIY TV shows and plenty of articles online covering the renovation top but here is my Top 5 list of things to consider when doing a renovation:
1. No matter how confident you are about your budget, add 20%. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll have cost over-runs for unexpected surprises or upgrades or things you forgot to budget for.
2. Invest in quality and do it right the first time. We humans are impatient by nature but it is always better to delay a project and save a little more in order to protect your investment in your home. I’ve seen way to many 6 mm laminate floors that need to be torn up after a year, way too many scratched chipboard kitchen cabinets and way too many bits of drywall tape falling off walls.
3. Consider resale value and then consider it again. Fads such as bright coloured carpets come and go. Remember avocado coloured appliances? Stick to white fixtures. Invest in energy efficient upgrades (because tomorrow’s buyer will care even more than today’s buyer) and invest in things that will last the test of time. If you want to know what sells, ask your REALTOR®.
4. Consider the environment. Use VOC free paints, consider bamboo or other renewal resources for floors and cabinets, buy gently used materials, readapt other materials and reduce wastage wherever possible.
5. Choose your contractors carefully! I can’t stress this enough. Ask around for recommendations and check references. If your REALTOR® has been around for awhile, ask her/him. I have a list of excellent contractors in most trades that has taken years to build and that list would be far more valuable to you than reading an ad in the paper.
Renovating can be fun and rewarding when it is done right. The Appraisal Institute of Canada has developed an interactive web-based guide to the value of home improvements. It’s called Renova.