If you are weighing some different renovation projects, take the time to set your priorities. Usually, that will mean taking care of the necessities (a leaky roof) before making your home more enjoyable to inhabit (adding a home theatre room).
Know what you want. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation distinguishes between lifestyle renovations (which improve the enjoyment of your home), maintenance renovations (which help protect your investment), and retrofit projects (which focus on your home’s shell or mechanical systems).
Generally speaking, renovations that improve the aesthetics of your home (such as adding a skylight) contribute less to its resale value, while upgrades to the necessities provide the best payback potential.
Get an expert opinion. If your goal is to paint your home, you may already have an idea of the work involved and the costs. But if you are considering more extensive work, it may be a good idea to get some professional help for your assessment.
A home inspector or architect can help you decide what needs to be done (and whether it can be done) before you undertake your renovation project. A home appraiser can help you do a cost-benefit analysis of the intended renovation.
Tip: If you’re planning extensive renovations, building permits may be required. Speak to your local zoning office about any building codes and zoning bylaws that might affect your plans.
Get an idea of the cost. Get quotes from at least two contractors or renovation experts, giving them a clear idea of what you would like done. It’s also smart planning to factor in a cost overrun — anywhere from 10% to 50%. Ask friends and colleagues about their own experiences with cost overruns.
Choosing a contractor. When you’re ready to undertake a renovation, choosing your contractor will be one of your most important decisions. There is much to consider, including checking out their work references, getting estimates, signing contracts, and knowing what to expect in your home while the work is being done and when it will be completed.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides a number of fact sheets (with extensive and handy checklists) on all aspects of renovation. The Hiring a Contractor fact sheet is an invaluable resource.