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Home Renovations – Tips Before You Begin

If you have decided to make some renovations to your home or investment property there are a few steps I would suggest, even prior to calling a contractor:

Define Scope

Firstly, renovations have a way of getting out of control once they have started, so it is imperative that you layout the scope of the work to be completed. If a bathroom renovation is your plan, ensure you list all areas that are to affected – new toilet and wall tiles or a complete over-hall including: plumbing, fixtures, lighting, cabinets, tub and flooring.

Just a quick note based on my experience; once one area of a room has been newly renovated it will make the other areas appear more “tired” than they had previously looked. Consider doing as much renovation in one room as your budget will allow. This approach will be less expensive and less time-consuming than having to return to re-renovate the same room several times.

Floor Plan

Take the time to create a drawing of your new floor plan. This does not have to be a professional illustration, just a sketch showing your basic ideas. For example, if you are finishing your basement, show the location of interior walls, appliances, fireplaces, lighting, bar, shelving or furniture built-ins, bathrooms and closets.

If you have decided to include a bathroom, kitchenette or wet bar consider the location of the plumbing rough-ins. It can be very time-consuming and expensive if you decide to put your toilet across the room from where the builder has placed the sewer access.

This floor plan may take a little time; however, it will definitely make things easier when it’s time to explain to your contractors what your plan is.

Create Budget

You must set a budget and try to work within it. I have heard the old phrase “money is no object” a few times in my 25 years in the renovation business, however, nine times out of ten; it is an object – and a big object.

Only you can decide what budget you are comfortable with. Having said that, after speaking to several contractors you may find that what you want and what your budget allows for, are miles apart. So, your budget may not be flexible but your plans will need to be flexible.

Set Time Frame

The time frame, in some people’s opinion, is the most important aspect. When setting a time frame for your renovation work to be completed, keep in mind that unless you are hiring one of the T.V. renovation teams that could build the Taj Mahal in 3 days with a crew of 500 workers; you may have to be a little more realistic.

After you meet with several contractors be sure to ask each of them how long they think the job should take and when they would have the time to focus on your project. It is my experience you should increase this estimate by 30%.

If this is a large renovation it may be necessary to make living arrangements elsewhere. Regardless, you should still ensure the contractors are given exclusive use of the area and services that they will need. There is nothing more frustrating than a plumber trying to install a new kitchen sink while you are making your family breakfast. Give the professionals room to work.

Now that you have a defined the scope, sketched a floor plan and set a budget, it is now time to get a few estimates. I recommend that you avoid uninsured renovation companies for obvious reasons. There are many reputable renovation companies out there and there are many ways to find them, today the most popular ways are: internet web sites, yellow pages, trade magazines and of course personal referrals/word of mouth.

When meeting with a renovator be sure to show them your drawing of the floor plan and discuss in detail what you want done, do a walk through with the renovator of the area to be renovated and don’t forget to ask about the time frame. I would suggest that you not mention your budget at this time. You should first get yourself 3 estimates.

When a renovator is pricing an estimate they have many variables to deal with such as material quality and it turn material prices and hardware and fixture prices, for example a set of sink taps can vary from $30.00 up to $3,000.00 the same rule applies to all material, hardware and fixtures. So in my professional opinion ask the renovator to price the estimate using basic builder grade material and fixture costs. Asking for an estimate based solely on base price materials will help you adjust pricing for items you wish to upgrade and hopefully still stay within your budget.


If you have followed the above suggestions: outlined your project scope, sketched a floor plan, set a budget, considered a time frame and contacted several (3-5) contractors for estimates and referrals then you should now be in a position to comfortably make your decision and get started on your renovation.

Martin Power:

After working as a real estate agent and home renovation company owner, for over 20 tears, Martin became a full-time web developer and marketing expert/author for the real estate and home renovation industry. Check out further articles and educational materials at [].

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