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Renovations: Plan before you swing the mallet

Consider some of the following tips before you start your renovations:

  1. First establish what your overall goal is: more living space, a master bedroom suite, another full bathroom?
  2. Do your homework to ensure that the property at the end of the renovations is worth more than the cost of the renovations. Contact your local estate agent for an expert opinion on how much value your proposed renovation will add to your home.
  3. Establish your budget; whether for loans, contractors or materials, you need to shop around to find the best deal. Make sure to interview several contractors and compare prices. Whether you choose high-end, mid-grade or low-cost, materials can have a big impact on your budget.
  4. Ensure your proposed renovations are in keeping with the style of your original home.
  5. Have building plans approved by council if the renovation involves additions or changes to the interior layout. Do not omit this important step. It can cost you dearly at a later stage when you want to sell your property and  copies of approved building plans are asked for by the buyer or his bank.

Now that you are ready to start finding a contractor, what should you ask?

  1. What are your credentials?
  2. Do you have a portfolio of previous projects?
  3. Do you have contactable references?
  4. Does this project require subcontractors?
  5. How long will the project take to be completed?

Remember to add any questions specific to your situation.

Inform your neighbours
Let your neighbours know in advance what is going to happen with your home renovation and what they can expect. As long as you are considerate, chances are they will be very supportive and excited for you, as well as eager to see the final product.

Work with your contractor
Keep an open line of communication with your contractor. Check in with the site supervisor every day to see how things are progressing. If you notice a problem, discuss it immediately. The sooner you point out the problem, the easier it will be to correct.

Have a timeline
Be sure your contractor provides you with a timeline for your renovation. It is best to have this broken into stages, that way you can have a better idea of what to expect. It also allows you to make sure your project can be completed on time.

Think of your family
If you are staying in the house during the renovation, your kids may not be able to play everywhere that they are used to playing. Plan excursions out of the house to make the process easier on them. Also create a sense of excitement and anticipation in your kids that can make the renovation more fun for them.

Get out, if possible
If this is a major renovation, try to move out. It can be extremely uncomfortable, if not impossible, to live with that kind of work going on. Find an apartment that allows a short term lease and is close to your home.


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