Deciding On Changes

The decision to renovate can be triggered by a number of things. You may need to repair or replace something. It may be time to "freshen up" a tired-looking kitchen. Changes in your household dynamics, such as the arrival of a new child or the need for a home office may require changes to your home. Often, homeowners simply want to update their home to better suit their lifestyle, or to keep up with the latest trends in home design or decor.

  • Take inventory - Get the whole household involved in making a list of everything in your home that is really needed and what would be nice to have. This includes "must-do" repairs and replacements to maintain your home in good shape, as well as things that don't work well and things you would like to change. Finally, also note down what you really like about your home and wouldn't want to change; this can help to focus on the assets of your home that you want to preserve. 

  • A closer look - Renovators can help you discover the hidden assets of your home. For instance, homeowners sometimes assume that they need extra floor space when maybe all that is needed is more effectively designed space. By rearranging interior walls, eliminating separations and installing larger windows, this can often create the sense of spaciousness and light you want. 

  • Look under existing carpeting and sheet flooring - old hardwood is often of high quality and can be refinished. If your old trim and doors are in good shape, they can be refinished rather than replaced. Likewise, you may be able to resurface your kitchen cupboards instead of installing new ones, or perhaps you can "recycle" hardware such as knobs and handles.

  • Think about the different seasons - If you are planning your renovation in the summer, think back to last winter. Did you have enough closet space for coats and boots? Are there areas of your home that are drafty or hard to heat? On the contrary, if you’re planning is taking place during the winter, think about your lifestyle during the summer. 

  • Staging the work - Doing the work in stages allows you to achieve the results that you want without financial pressure. Your renovator can help develop a plan sequencing tasks, timelines and expected costs. 

  • Product substitution - You don't have to compromise on the quality of your renovation. Where quality is not affected, you can consider using less expensive alternatives such as ceramic tiles instead of slate or marble; 4 inch baseboards rather than 7 inch; just to mention a few of the possibilities. Your renovator can advise you on getting the best value for your money. 

  • Operating costs - Water-conserving fixtures will save a considerable amount of money over time. Energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency heating systems and electronic thermostats mean long-term savings. 

  • Home inspection - If you have lived in your home for a number of years, a complete inspection can give you a "snap-shot" of the condition of your home - a solid starting point for a full plan of renovation and ongoing home maintenance. An inspection can help to reduce surprises that can throw your renovation budget and schedule off track. For instance, an inspection can help identify particular problems needing immediate attention such as faulty wiring or defective heating equipment, which may not be immediately apparent. Inspections can also help you assess your renovation ideas; can it be done, what will it take and what's the impact on the rest of the house? It can also make it easier to plan for future expenses and effective long-term planning and budgeting; it is important to know when to expect major home maintenance expenses. 

  • Keeping your home - You should consider how long you plan to live in your home, as well as your long-term financial goals. While most renovations will increase the market value of your home, some projects will have a more positive impact than others. If you are planning on living in your home for many years, the financial return on your renovation investment may be less of a concern. But if you are expecting to sell your home within a few years, consider whether your renovation will enhance the buyer appeal and selling price of your home. An appraisal can give you advice on how your renovation is likely to affect the market value of your home.

  • The short and long term needs - A family with young children typically needs more space and convenience - extra bathrooms, larger family living areas and a more open kitchen with an eat-in area. As children mature, they (and their parents) want more privacy. Housing priorities shift towards larger bedrooms, increased closet space and separated living areas. Grown children returning home, aging parents moving in, home-based businesses - increasingly people need to plan for continuous changes in household composition and use of space. As homeowners get older, "accessibility" becomes a greater concern - the ability to move easily throughout the home and carry on day-to-day living activities. 

  • Flexible and adaptable to your changing needs - Incorporating the kitchen, living room and a bathroom into the main living area to allow for wide halls and doorways to make movement easier, is an example of this. Or, creating a separate, multi-purpose room on the main level. Over the years, it may serve as a den, an office or a spare bedroom. It is important to consider the need and opportunities for future expansion of living space, for example into the basement and/or attic, and rough in the services for this potential expansion (water, electricity, cable).