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4 Tips for Renovating without Breaking the Bank

Posted on Wednesday October 31, 2018

4 Tips for Renovating without Breaking the Bank

4 Tips for Renovating without Breaking the Bank

Whenever someone mentions renovations, there's always a brother-in-law who interjects, ?Whatever amount you budget, it's going to cost you double!? Although cost overruns are frequent and it's always wise to budget for unforeseen expenses, completing renovations while sticking to a budget is certainly possible. The key to this is careful planning. Here's how to plan effectively for successful renovations regardless of their nature or scope.


  1. Assess your needs and list your priorities

If you have a home and simply want to redo a bathroom to bring it up to date, this is a relatively easy task. On the other hand, if you're moving into a house and the basement, kitchen, downstairs bathroom and patio all need redoing fairly quickly, it gets a little more complicated. Add a new roof and windows and you have a real challenge on your hands. To get through it, make a list of priorities while following these steps in order:

  • List the details of each renovation project.
  • Put the projects in order by priority based on their urgency (e.g. unfinished bathroom, non-compliant patio, leaky pipes).
  • Define a budget for the first phase of renovations.
  • Choose the renovations to be done.
  • Establish a completion timeline.
  • List all expenses in an Excel spreadsheet to help you stick to priorities and avoid budget overruns.

You may end up deciding that renovating the kitchen or bathroom can wait until next year. Keep in mind that it's easier (and less stressful) to complete one renovation at a time and do it right than it is to start every job at the same time and then possibly have to make some hard choices along the way.


  1. Budget realistically

Set a maximum budget for your renovations and then get your spouse and/or financial institution to look at it. When deciding what you can afford, make sure you have carefully reviewed your income and expenses (including that trip to Disney World that's already booked!). You have many options when it comes to financing, from a personal line of credit to a second mortgage. As your renovation plans come together, please don't hesitate to contact your financial advisor, who will be glad to help.


  1. Always get at least 3 quotes

You've planned, budgeted and created a timeline. Now it's time to collect quotes from multiple companies or contractors. To get an idea of pricing, it's important to keep in mind that building contractors bill for their services. With several (at least three, and more if possible!) quotes in hand, you can make an informed decision. Ensure that quotes from bidders cover as many details as possible, such as:

  • availability of the contractor and crew (and any other specialized tradespeople)
  • price of materials
  • total hours anticipated for each phase
  • hourly rate for each trade
  • hourly rate for time overruns
  • hourly rate for the cost of materials
  • detailed calendar for completion of work

After choosing a contractor, it's important to check their references and ensure they have all required insurance coverage to perform the work on your premises. For example, you could confirm that an electrician is a member of his or her association. A phone call or quick check online could save you headaches down the road.


  1. Check municipal permits and by-laws

Every municipality has its own by-laws and application process for building permits. A person can't decide to knock a wall down just because ?opening everything up makes it look nicer?; it's crucial to get the necessary permissions as stipulated by the government. The typical procedure in this regard is:

  • Find out about the permit application process in your municipality.
  • Submit all required documents (2D/3D drawings, quotes, photos of materials) with assistance from qualified professionals (designer, engineer, architect).
  • Obtain (and post) permits before starting the work.

Planning the renovation process carefully sets you up for success in achieving your goals on time and, most importantly, on budget? so that the next time that brother-in-law visits, you can inform him that renovating on a budget can be done!

Click here for additional information about financing home renovations.

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