Planning a home renovation

People renovate for a number of reasons – to enhance and refresh, create additional space, increase energy efficiency, or boost the resale value of their home.


With any major project, proper planning is the key to ensuring you get the most out of your renovation without spending more than you can afford. If you’re about to tackle a home renovation project, consider these tips to consider before getting started.

Create a plan and stick to it

Decide on the renovations you want to do and why. Are you renovating to change the style of your home, upgrade structurally or create energy efficiencies? Whatever suits your goals, you’ll need a plan.

If the goal is to increase the value of your home for resale, consider bringing in a real estate agent to advise what changes provide a solid return. Interior designers also can be helpful; they they can create a design proposal and help you determine how to will get the most bang for your buck. A design plan will provide a good vision for the contractor that can minimize the chance of mistakes or misunderstandings once the project is started.

Having a good idea before you start of how the renovation will look when it’s done, how it fits in with the rest of your living space and how it will improve the value of your home, will help you avoid overrun delays.

Budgets are important

Once you know what you want to do, it’s important to ensure you have the means to pay for it! Creating a budget is a good first step. Make sure your budget is realistic and affordable, and be prepared stick to it. Extra expenses may arise, so be prepared by setting aside a contingency of at least 15 to 25 per cent of your total budget, depending on the size of your project and condition of your home.

Setting up a savings plan or using money you have already saved specifically for renovations is ideal. If you’re looking to finance the renovation, common options include a secured or unsecured line of credit, refinancing a mortgage, or a personal loan. The Solutions Banking™ All-in-One is a home equity line of credit that is well suited for this purpose. Ask us for more information on these options.

You might also determine what you can tackle alone. Sweat equity is a great way to save money, so keep track of the work that you can do yourself. 

Do your research

Choose a contractor carefully. Ask friends, co-workers and relatives if they can recommend a reputable company. Get multiple quotes to help you figure out what is a reasonable price, and ask for references. Talk to previous clients. If you have the opportunity, visit past or current projects.

If part of your renovation project is to improve the energy efficiency of your home, look into grants and rebates offered by the federal or provincial governments as well as local utilities. The Canadian Home Builders Association also recommends contacting an EnerGuide evaluator certified by the Government of Canada1. They will provide a detailed analysis of your home and give you a full report on its current energy performance, and a list of recommended upgrades.

Depending on the extent of your renovation, you may need a building permit. Check with your local municipality, as permits vary based on where you live and the type of renovation you’re undertaking. If you live in a condo, your building’s management company can identify what approval you require to complete a renovation project and their rules for contractors.

Getting a return on your investment

If you’re renovating to increase the value of your home, keep in mind that some home improvements offer better returns than others. According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), how much you spend on a home improvement should depend on how long you plan to live there. For example, if you’re planning on staying in your home for only a short while, smaller and less expensive renovations may make it easier to recover your investment. 

The AIC also cautions homeowners to consider the neighbourhood before spending too much on a renovation. Buyers in a particular market may have an expectation of cost, so the investment of your renovation may only be partially recognized by a potential homebuyer. Remember, less expensive items like new lighting, cabinet hardware or door handles, paint and landscaping can all provide your home with a modern look with minimal cost. 

If you’re renovating to improve the energy efficiency of your home, the return may be more apparent in lower home operating costs. Reduced operating costs will pay back your investment over a longer period of time, or could be a potential selling feature.


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