Before You Renovate … Part 2 – Key Questions Before You Start
In our previous article “Before You Renovate … Part 1 – Why Renovate?” we spoke about the reasons why you would renovate and what you should do in preparation of your renovation. In this part, we will ask questions about the renovation to make you think about the many aspects of such an undertaking.
Key Questions Before You Start
- Is Your Renovation Practical?
- Your Money’s Worth?
- Is your Renovation Adaptable?
- And Healthy?
A successful renovation can be a dream come true, but without careful planning and management, it can be a nightmare.
Be informed. Before you pick up a hammer, pick up a book or a video on home renovation. Talk to friends and neighbours who’ve renovated. Explore all the options, and remember the carpenter’s creed: measure twice, cut once. Mistakes on paper are easy to fix and inexpensive. Mistakes on the job are not. The following questions will help make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
1.) Is Your Renovation Practical?
While maintenance renovations aren’t really a choice — they’re part of owning a home and protecting your investment — lifestyle renovations and even some retrofit plans may not be practical or do-able.
Be clear about your expectations. Learn when to draw the line between what’s desirable and what’s essential.
Almost any renovation will add to, or at least protect, the equity in your home, but kitchen and bathroom renovations and painting normally provide the greatest payback when you sell. If your property taxes and insurance premiums go up, the increase is usually small.
2.) Your Money’s Worth?
Over time, the money you save on heat, light and water by making your home more energy efficient may actually pay for the upgrades. Safety also pays. Insurance companies often decrease premiums when you improve wiring or fire prevention and improve or add a security system.
On the other hand, you can overdo a good thing. If you plan to move within a few years, is the renovation worth it? Will it pay to put on an expensive new addition when your house is in an area of more modest homes?
Payback Range of Typical Renovations
- Bathroom renovation (75 – 100%)
- Kitchen renovation (75 – 100%)
- Interior painting (50 – 100%)
- Exterior painting (50 – 100%)
- Roof shingle replacement (50 – 80%)
- Furnace/heating system (50 – 80%)
- Basement renovation (50 – 75%)
- Recreation room addition (50 – 75%)
- Installing a fireplace (50 – 75%)
- Flooring (50 – 75%)
- Constructing a garage (50 – 75%)
- Window/door replacement (50 – 75%)
- Building a deck (50 – 75%)
- Central air conditioning (25 – 75%)
Information provided by the Appraisal Institute of Canada, 2006.
3.) Is your Renovation Adaptable?
It’s best to take the long view when you’re renovating, because your needs are bound to change as time goes by. Try to build the most flexibility and long-term usefulness into your design.
For instance, some day you may want to convert a nursery into a home office. Installing the required wiring now will
save you time and money later, and will also add a selling feature if you decide to move.
This kind of planning is part of what CMHC calls FlexHousing. And it’s not just about preparing for future changes. By installing features such as lever door handles, non-slip flooring and extra-wide doorways, you make household activities more comfortable and safer today.
4.) And Healthy?
Planning a renovation is also an opportunity to apply Healthy Housing principles.
The goal of Healthy Housing is to reduce house-hold demands on the outdoor environment while providing a healthy indoor environment — by installing energy-efficient appliances, for instance, or by making the most use of natural light and passive solar energy in your designs.
Choose building materials that help conserve natural resources, such as salvaged lumber and products made with recycled content. Building materials should be durable, easy to maintain, and should not give off toxic gases once installed. Finally, choose and use construction techniques that minimize waste and debris.
The basis of Healthy Housing is to think of your home as an ecosystemand a part of the larger environment. Incorporating Healthy Housing principles when planning your renovation will help protect your family and community, and could very well help you save money.