What you should know before digging in
I have many prospective clients reaching out to me at this time of year, with lofty renovation goals and big dreams that their efforts will pay off. A home renovation can indeed offer a great return on investment – unless it’s not done correctly from the get-go.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is that this isn’t the time to start skimping. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it. Maybe put it off until your budget meets your needs. Cutting corners to save a few bucks will end up costing you more in the long run, because you’ll likely end up having to pay again to repair or redo the work.
Renovations can be daunting territory for many, and there is no doubt that this process can be overwhelming. Selecting materials, sourcing products (and making the right decisions!) and executing the project is a dance best left to a professional. A designer will perfectly choreograph your renovation project without missing a beat, and you can bet that there will be many beats in this process. When the renovation is complete, most of my clients agree that the result is worth the effort and temporary inconvenience of it all.
Now, before you get too excited about what will undoubtedly become Instagram-worthy interiors, let me give you another important renovation tip: Be realistic. Be realistic about the project (is your plan even possible?), the process (how long will it take, and what will it all entail?) and the price. Here are some things to keep in mind before you dig in.
1. There will be dust
Prepare yourself for the general feeling that you and everything you own will be a little dirty. All. The. Time. This also lasts months after the renovation wraps, as the dust quite literally settles. Cover your vents with plastic and turn off the furnace and air-conditioning systems in advance, to avoid circulating dust throughout your home.
2. There will be disagreements and compromises
Inevitably, you and your housemate/renovation partner will have different priorities. I ask my clients to prepare separate lists, each noting their own needs and personal preferences. Then we can put them side-by-side and find the commonalities. Compromise on the small stuff is easier when we feel like we agree on something big – usually, a functional and fabulous space.
3. There will be (costly) issues
Especially in residential construction projects, you need to plan ahead and budget for any number of wonderments that may be found lurking behind the walls. Set aside 20 per cent of your budget as a buffer zone. I typically keep this amount “in the bank,” and when the project is nearing completion and I can see that we’re in the clear, I can reallocate the remaining amount for splurges appearing on my clients’ wish list.
One or two less-than-ideal byproducts accompany most renovations, whether they come in the form of construction dust or budget-busting “surprises.” However, by enlisting the right professional and planning well in advance, you can minimize the negative impacts of a renovation and maximize the positive.
Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc..
With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her full service firm serves clientele throughout the GTA.