Help With Your Next Home Renovation Project Around The Home


It was purchased knowing we’d have many years of home renovations on our hands but the lot and location sold us, along with the dream of making it our own. We were a newly married couple who fancied themselves as quite handy but we were a bit naive and didn’t forecast the hurdles we would face.

plan for the first year was to remove the dusty rose carpeting, pull down walls on the main floor to make it open-concept, and do windows. We felt prepared and aware when we moved into this 1970’s raised bungalow but within a month of the first winter it became clear that the state of the windows and roof was word than our inspector had thought as the melting snow began to pour into the house. Our plans of beautifying the home were put on hold as we redirected the monies into the roof, insulation, front door and windows.

One of our larger projects (excluding the foundation repairs, furnace replacement and other BORING things) was putting in an in ground pool. This was done in 2008 when we still had many interior upgrades to make but we decided that we needed the outdoor space for the kids in the summer. It was a HUGE undertaking which I wrote about more with my post Thinking of a Home Renovation? Installing the inground pool hasbeen one of the BEST investments we’ve ever made! The kids are super active in the summer because of it and with me working from home now, my summer office is quite lovely.

Right now we are under renovation again and this time it’s one that may challenge my sanity. Our home is a 1300 square foot bungalow with a basement we use. The current basement is brought to us straight from the 1970’s complete with the wood panelling and freezing cold floors.

Prepare a Budget. I can dream of having 10 foot ceilings in my basement but if I don’t have the budget to dig into the foundation, well that’s not happening. By compiling a realistic budget and factoring in our wish list I’ve been able to cross things off and add here and there by researching the actual costs involved. Know your budget in depth and plan

Know your why. What problems are you trying to solve? Most renovations begin with practical issues such as your bathroom may be cramped, you need more storage space in the kitchen etc. Keep this in mind as you plan and don’t get swayed.

Evaluate the structure, systems and general condition of your house. The best start to any renovation is to assess the current state of the bones of your home. List any repairs and replacements which are required over the next 5 years before you spend your money elsewhere.

Don’t cut corners to save a few dollars! Stretching a budget is a good thing but if you’re compromising quality you will be sorry. There may be ways to stretch a limited budget or you could do it in phases over time. But don’t compromise on quality-instead focus on quality work and do it over time if you have to.

Check the local bylaws. We had grand ideas of building an addition but after checking with our local bylaw office we realized it would be much more cost effective to build our living space in the existing basement rather than facing the permit fees involved in a new build.

Look at your neighbourhood. Each home and neighbourhood had an intrinsic value, be certain that the renovation you’re planning won’t exceed the future selling value of your home or neighbourhood.

Don’t focus on trends. Home design trends come and go and much like having the staple items in your closet, plan your renovation to stand the test of time. Use your “WHY” to help you plan out the space and then decorate with the trends other wise you could find that you’ll be regretting it like I regret the wood panelling in my basement.

Keep it simple. Construction and design isn’t cheap! I may want rounded walls all around my home but the cost of that isn’t worth it to me. The more complex the design the higher the budget, keep it simple in order to reduct costs and achieve the same goals in your WHY.

Renovations are uncomfortable. If you’re living in the home you’re renovating be realistic about how uncomfortable. There will be the sounds, smells and DUST of renovations as you live there. We will have no laundry and because the contents are being moved upstairs, we know it will be crowded. Look at your project and be realistic about what your life will be like during renos, if it’s too much consider moving out for the duration.


Choosing to do a whole home renovation is a significant undertaking that is bound to be filled with unrealized expectations, numerous planning changes, and unforeseen surprises that hit your budget. It will be a daunting experience, however, the renovation will be extremely rewarding once all is said and done. In order to get the end result that you want, there are a few things that you should know about before beginning this complex process

Check Your Home for Asbestos & Lead. It is important to know that you should ALWAYS get a home inspection done before ripping out any walls, flooring, or roofing. This is because older homes may have asbestos and lead in them, which requires specialized handling and certifications. Preventing the exposure to lead and asbestos is key to doing proper renovation and that is why you should always get the areas you are renovating tested. With this said, if you go ahead without checking for these items, it’s going to cost you tons of extra money that your budget may not be able to handle. It is important to recognize the laws set in place to protect your health and well being put in place by Cal OSHA. Knowing what you are dealing with beforehand is imperative to making sure that the project goes smoothly and is executed correctly.

Have Your Furniture Taken Care of By a Third-Party?  Do not leave your furniture in your home during a whole home renovation. Ensuring that your furniture is in the condition you left it should be carried out by having a contents specialist to assist you in relocating your furniture and belongings in a facility where it will stored away until your renovation is complete. It is bound to get in the way and can potentially be damaged by those who are working around it. It will most definitely save you the stress of having to always keep an eye on your furniture while work takes place in your home.  

Find Another Place to Live During the Remodeling Process.  Running your daily life during a home renovation is going to be near impossible. You will not have access to the majority of your home’s rooms and the noise is going to make it unbearable to stay in during the day. It’s easier to find another place to live during the process. This will ensure that you go about your daily routine and get through your days while the magic happens in your home, creating a efficient environment for all that are participating.

Decide on Scope of Work & Lock in Timelines.  Before you can get to deciding the scope of the work, you need to have a solid budget in place that helps keep the costs in check. It can be very difficult to balance between the dream designs you want and the amount you are financially capable of funding. It is critical that you get a true understanding of the price of both materials, labor, and design so that you can gauge your expectations going in. Once this is done and you have a realistic budget in place, you can clarify exactly what work needs to happen and when it needs to happen during the project timeline.  By locking in your timeline, you can most definitely  lay out ground rules, determine scheduling, and understand how the project will come together.

Make a List of Questions to Ask the Contractor.  Always come up with a set of questions to ask your contractor beforehand. It is always important to address everything that is concerning you or that of which has you most curious about the process. This will give your clarity and understanding and keep you out of the way during the home renovation project. While it is okay to have questions along the way, it can slow down the contractor and delay the process so ask away beforehand so that the contractor can deliver your vision. Remember, it is always encouraged to ask question, it is your home, however, clarifying everything in the beginning is the best way to kick off your whole home renovation.

Create a Clear Vision of What You Want.  You need to have everything picked out before the project begins. This includes what tiles you want, what paint you want, and which appliances need to be bought and installed. By knowing exactly what design you want and how you want each room to look, you will be better at making tough decisions later down the line. Build your vision so it can be brought to life in the manner that you want it!

Know Who You Are Hiring.  This is one of the most important aspects of a home renovation project. You need to know who you are hiring, what their reputation is like, and what type of certifications they have and most of all, know what their character is like based off reviews and testimonials.  While word-of-mouth recommendations are great, make sure to look into who is being recommended and why, as you do not want to go blindly into signing a contract with them. Look at their lien history, their insurance, their certificates, and their bond numbers. Meet with them to make sure that they understand your vision prior to engaging their services. This will establish and solidify who it is that is the right fit for you to carry out your whole home renovation.

Determine Which Items Are Splurge Worthy Early On. When you are making your budget, you will want to determine which items are worth spending more money on. These items should be products that you will use frequently and thus, should have a higher-price tag to ensure that you get high-quality and longer life. If you have an extremely tight budget, choose to forego cosmetic furnishings in order to handle your project in manner you can navigate.

Understand the Inner Workings of Your Home. While it may seem simple to pop a new outlet into the wall, it can lead to you needing to rewire the entire home. So, make sure that you understand the existing conditions of your home and its inner workings. You do not want to short circuit the electrical system or blow a fuse. If you are curious or need assistance to identifying what conditions your inner workings are at, be sure to ask the respective party for an inspection (Electrician/plumber).

Decide on How Payments Will Be Made. You absolutely need a contract that will outline how payments will be made and when they will be made by. Ideally, you want to pay your contractor a retainer up front, 50% halfway through, and the remainder when the project done. This will establish a solid relationship with yourself and the contractor and have the efficiency you need. Deciding on how these payments will be made is important, as you will need to manage your finances around them.

Home Improvement Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

It doesn’t matter if you’ve bought a newly built home, a condo in a maintained community, or a fixer-upper—owning your own place brings out the home improvement itch in us all (or at least requires us to do necessary repairs and maintenance tasks)

If you were offered $100,000, no strings attached, what home improvements would you do? Chances are, a long laundry list of changes come to mind, from refinishing the hardwood floors to adding a new bathroom. Some home improvements, however, are more likely to increase your home’s value than others. Although you shouldn’t think of your home as an investment, with limited home improvement funds, it’s good to consider whether a project has a decent return on investment.

Whether winter is coming or you’re considering projects in another season, some home improvements are more urgent than others—saving you money immediately or preventing devastating damage. Sometimes it only takes ten minutes or less to make simple changes around the house that boost your living space.

Even if you’re a weekend warrior with a well-stocked workshop, not all home improvement projects are suitable to do yourself (or at least, without the help of a professional). Know your limits, start small if you’re a beginner, and then keep calm and DIY on (if you so wish).

Big projects or small, probably all of us could stand to learn some decent home repair or home improvement skills. (All around the home, there are things we should never have to pay others to fix for us.) Learn Bob Villa-worthy skills and help others at the same time by volunteering or through free clinics and other resources. Turn to great reading resources and try starter projects too. If you get stuck on a project, iOS app Fountain will connect you to a home improvement expert to answer your question for $5. (Also, did you know we have a home improvement subblog here at Lifehacker called Workshop?)

Home Renovation and Extension Tips This 2020: Important Things to Keep in Mind

Home renovations and extensions are a hodgepodge of ideas; these are dos and don’ts and considerations that homeowners are most likely to become overwhelmed. However if you take out the unnecessary ones and only keep in mind that which is important, you are bound to find yourself with a peaceful heart and a more beautiful home

Never Rush Designs and Processes

Planning your project may well take longer than executing it, but it is worth taking your time to get it right. Design every detail up front and build according to detailed plans. Don’t design on the fly with builders on site. What seem like small changes can have a serious knock-on effect if not planned properly at the start. Very few extensions or major renovations involving significant structural work and drainage alterations can be done to a good quality in less than five or six months. Internal reforms can be done more swiftly, but the last stages of any building job will inevitably slow down – if only, for example, to avoid carpenters creating dust when the painters are trying to get a flawless finish on their eggshell. Unduly rushed building work will almost always come back to haunt the client.

Ensure Great Builder Reputation

This will make your life so much easier. Ask friends for recommendations and take references. Tender your building works with at least three builders. It’s the only way to ensure you are getting good value for your project. Take the time to go and see some of their previous projects. It is also very important to see their work beforehand so that you understand the finish you will be paying for. If you are particular about the final finishes being perfect, then you need to ensure your contractor can produce this

Never Purchase Cheap Products

Projects often run into problems if clients opt for the cheapest tender. Small builders often don’t use quantity surveyors and sometimes get pricing wrong, or do not fully comprehend the level of detail involved in a project. Familiarise yourself with the actual pricing and be wary of those who offer services below the average price.

Consult Professionals

What with builders, architects, party wall surveyors and building control costs, professional fees will add a big chunk to your outlay. But unless you really understand the process, don’t skimp on experts if you are doing a big project. If you are undertaking a large project, especially one running well into six figures, a quantity surveyor is worth his or her weight in gold. They can drill down on the numbers to a level of detail that a builder won’t and this can really help you get your budgeting right and your costs low.

Home renovation: Two things to consider before committing to change

Home renovations can be a great way to revitalise your property, especially after living there for a long period of time. Now could be the perfect time to take out a home loan and begin brainstorming about all the various additions and changes you’ve ever wanted to make to your property.

Be realistic with your planning

Having ambition is a great trait to have in life, especially when it comes to building and renovating a home. However, you have to be aware of when your plans may not be realistic and achievable. Take into account as many factors as possible when creating your plan – everything from expenses and money costs through to time allowances.

How are you going to tackle this?

There are a wide range of professionals available who can come into your home and take care of your renovations. While this may seem like the more expensive option, it will also help to protect you from causing any damage through your own lack of knowledge or skills.

However, if you feel confident in your DIY abilities, undertaking your own renovations could be a cheaper option to consider. These are just two things to consider before committing to a full scale renovation of your property.