The 10 key steps involved in a successful home overhaul
Maybe it’s that dripping tap, stained carpet or awkward pinch point that has been bothering you for ages. Perhaps you’ve had a big change in your life — a new baby moving in or an adult child moving out, for instance. Or maybe you just woke up one day and realized you simply cannot live one more minute with that hideous formica countertop.
Whatever the reason, the need to renovate comes to all of us eventually. And with more of us choosing not to move in this uncertain housing market, now is a good time to invest in the roof that is already over your head.
Of course, all that time we spent at home during the pandemic had already inspired many of us to make our living spaces more, well, livable. We added home offices for ourselves and laneway houses for the in-laws, improved soundproofing, installed media rooms and increased storage spaces. We spent a lot of money doing all this — and we plan to spend still more.
According to the fourth annual renovation survey by the online home service marketplace HomeStars, we spent more on renos in 2021 than in previous years ($13,000 on average, as compared to $8,000 the year before), and we plan to spend almost double that in the next year or so.
A renovation can be as simple and inexpensive as a new coat of paint. Or it can be a complete overhaul from cellar to rafters and everything in between. Whatever changes you are considering for your home, this special renovation issue of Spruce has you covered with expert advice, topical trends and dreamy ideas.
10 Steps to Reno Success
Every reno is different, but every reno should follow a plan and a process. Before you start yours, here is a basic guideline of what to do — and when.
1. Make a plan
This is the fun part, where you flip through magazines and browse décor websites to come up with your dream design. Assess what needs to be done and make sure you have enough time and budget to finish the job. Consider working with a designer — hiring a professional will help both in perfecting your design and in ensuring you get the right contractors to bring it to life.
2. Set a budget
This is not the fun part, but it is essential. Determine how much you are comfortable spending, be realistic about what your project will cost and plan for an extra 10 to 20 per cent in case of the unexpected.
3. Hire a contractor
If you enjoy getting your hands dirty, decide which projects you can safely DIY. Otherwise, research and hire a contractor to do the job. Make sure the contract clearly defines the scope of work and that your contractor is fully insured — otherwise you may be on the hook if workers damage your home or, worse, injure themselves.
4. Secure permits and materials
Every municipality has its own permitting process. If you don’t nail down all your permits before construction begins, you can face delays, fines or even lawsuits. Once the permits are in place and contracts signed, you can start ordering material such as lumber or drywall.
5. Start the demolition
If you are adding space, moving walls or replacing features like a kitchen island, you will need to tear things down before you can build them up. This is a much bigger undertaking than many homeowners anticipate, and it requires both a permit and a large bin for the waste.
Beware that older buildings may contain toxic materials like asbestos-laced insulation and lead-based paint. And consider hiring a company that will salvage as much material as possible to keep it out of the landfill.
6. Raise the walls
Before you can do the pretty stuff, you need to make sure your basics are in place, and that means your walls need to be built (this is known as structural carpentry), any windows punched out and all the HVAC, electricals, plumbing and insulation installed. Then you can put up the drywall.
7. Take care of the details
Once the walls are up, you can work on the fine carpentry — baseboards, moulding, window trim and built-in cabinetry, breakfast nooks and bookcases.
8. Paint walls, install floors
There is some debate among contractors about which should be done first — painting the walls or installing the flooring — but both should be done at this stage. In general, it’s good to leave the flooring as late as possible in the process so it doesn’t get damaged while other work is being carried out.
9. Work on the outside
If you are planning to add a sunroom, deck, outdoor kitchen or swimming pool, this is a good time to do it. This is also when you should install your gutters and siding, or fix up your front porch.
10. Finishing touches
Finally, it’s time for the final touches that make your house truly your home: lighting, backsplashes, hardware, window coverings, paint touchups and, of course, placing your furniture and hanging your art.