Category Archives: Uncategorized

Renovation Process Part 2

What is the renovation process and expected order from demo day to completion?

Once you have decided on a contractor and are ready to begin the renovation process, you will most likely be able to anticipate the following order to take place. Typically, on day one of a renovation, the area to be renovated will need to be deconstructed and taken apart or demoed which may include closing off areas to the rest of the house. This may include removing fixtures, flooring, trim, and maybe plaster/drywall and insulation.

Once everything unwanted is removed and disposed of, there may be a need for some re-framing to add or change walls. After framing is complete, it’s time for roughing in electrical, plumbing and heating. These are the parts that are hidden in the walls but are essential for the operation of each system.

Next, if necessary, is adding insulation and vapour barrier. When this is complete, the drywall will be installed as well as the taping of the joints followed by paint. Trim may be installed at this point or flooring depending on the materials being used.

The last step is to install the fixtures as well as the electrical and plumbing finishing. While this seems like a tidy list that is fairly straightforward, sometimes complications can arise that interfere with the projected smooth operations. However, this is often the order to most renovations whether they are small or large and can give you some idea of what to expect and in which order.

What is the renovation process?

When considering a renovation, there is a general process that can help make design to completion run more smoothly.

First, it is important to figure out what your needs are and what your wants are.  If you understand what it is you are trying to achieve or gain by renovating, it will help the design process. A good designer will be able to listen to your needs as well as your wants to create the most suitable plans for you. But by separating needs and wants you will be able to know what things you absolutely can’t do without and what things would be nice to have but if the design or budget don’t allow, you can do without them. 

Another thing to consider is a budget number that you would feel comfortable with so that the contractor knows if you are realistic with your needs and wants.  Once you have your needs and wants sorted out, you are ready to discuss your project with a renovation expert.  Choose someone who has both design and build knowledge that can help you from start to finish.  They will be able to make a plan that meets your needs while accommodating as many wants as possible.  

Ideally, the renovation expert you choose can create a design plan as well as organize and perform the renovation.  The design plan will allow a renovation company to accurately quote on the job.  Be careful when comparing multiple quotes as you want to make sure that the exact same work and materials are being used.  Many times a cheaper price can mean corners and materials are being compromised.

Part 2 of the renovation process will outline the order of progress during a renovation whether it is small or large.

Do I need a general Contractor for my renovation?

Homeowners often wonder why they need a general contractor for their renovation.  First of all a general contractor is someone who organizes the job and trades and keeps things running smoothly and efficiently.  Also, there are many little things that are between trades that need to be done by someone in preparation for the next trade. These are the things that get missed without a contractor and are often what sets a general contracted renovation apart from a DIY job. 

If the renovation is relatively small, a homeowner may be able to get away without hiring a contractor.  However, if the renovation involves various trades such as electrical, plumbing, drywall, trimming, which most renovations do, it is definitely worthwhile hiring a contractor. 

While saving money up front may seem like a good idea, it can cause more expense down the road if things aren’t done properly.  Many contractors will testify to the fact that the most frustrating jobs are those where the homeowner wants to have some control in hiring ‘trade friends’ to save money.  In this case, the contractor is somehow supposed to stand behind the job and leave feeling it was a job well done.  However, in truth, he can’t because he was only partially responsible for the job and it didn’t run as smoothly as he knows it could have.  When contractors schedule a complete job, they know how long things should take and schedule things accordingly to keep the job running smoothly.  Their commitment to the job helps them schedule other jobs in succession. 

Contractors have reliable trades that they use on a consistent basis and a good working relationship with them.  Each one knows their responsibility and what is expected of them.  Contractors cannot be expected to be on call and run from one job to another so that it works for the homeowner. 

Contractors also can’t be expected to work around the schedules of trades they aren’t responsible for and if a trade takes longer than the contractors hired trades, the contractor is left having to find work to fill in.   Often in the case of a homeowner trying to contract the job themselves, timelines aren’t met because the contractor has less control and often the workmanship and quality is sacrificed.  The lines of responsibility and job ownership are blurred leaving the homeowner frustrated because the job didn’t go as anticipated. 

To save everyone involved from renovation headaches, a general contractor is the right way to go.

How has TV changed renovations?

With all of the exposure TV has given home renovating, you would think that homeowners would be better equipped and prepared for their own home renovations.  What people have to remember is that TV isn’t complete reality.  Something has to grab your attention and keep you watching the show.  Often the budgets and costs are unrealistic. 

If you live in Canada and are watching an American show, you cannot compare those budgets.  The very idea that you can make over 100 thousand in a few weeks is one of the hooks that keeps viewers coming back for more.  Similarly, the idea that a budget of 15 thousand can get you either a basement renovation, a backyard remodel or a luxurious ensuite is not often the case. 

TV has made people believe that their money goes farther than it does and gives unreal expectations of what renovations may cost as well as unrealistic timelines.  TV shows have to create good viewing.  They may be able to achieve low numbers with the promise of advertising for suppliers or by utilizing trades at a lower cost in exchange for TV exposure.  

Another popular TV gesture is for contractors to ‘throw in’ gifts at the end of a renovation such as backyard play centres for the kids, or entertainment centres for the adults.  While nice ideas, these cannot be part of a normal renovation.  Someone has to pay for these gifts and a contractor would have a hard time staying in business if they were coming out of his pocket. There are many variables that are not part of a regular renovation experience.  While they are entertaining to watch and give some good ideas, renovation shows can skew your perceptions and expectations of renovating.

How to choose the right contractor for my renovation.

Choosing the right contractor and company for your renovation has been made both easier and more difficult with the help of the internet. This may surprise you with all of the information available to us today! But we would like to suggest that Google is replacing social interactions with neighbours and acquaintances.  We take less opportunity to ask those around us of their experiences and rely more on the internet to answer our questions.

The problem with this is the vast lists of companies that are generated on an internet search and how to sort through the ideal one for you?  Some companies are large and some are small.  Large companies might be able to afford a better website and better web exposure but, they also have more bills to pay and more jobs on the go at one time.  Their overall company experience may be better. 

Small companies are typically lower on the list because they can’t afford complicated websites and don’t have dedicated web personnel.  However, they have less people needing to be paid and fewer jobs on the go.

Each client is as unique as each company and maybe that’s why there are so many!  If you narrow the list down to a few that seem to fit what you’re looking for and get to the quoting  process, this can create more confusion.  You may get 3 very different quotes which often means 3 very different lists of inclusions.  Caution should be taken when choosing the cheapest quote as you often get what you pay for.  You have to make sure that you are comparing the exact same materials and processes.

So, while it may be easier to come up with a wide variety of renovation contractors and companies using the internet, the only way you really know if they are suitable for you is meeting with them and spending some time with them.  Even if they have a list of testimonials, you probably don’t personally know any of them and therefore can’t testify to their work firsthand.  It can be a daunting task that should be taken with care.

By applying these principles, you can make an informed decision and choose a contractor and company wisely.

Contact us for more information on choosing a contractor

Should we renovate or should we sell our home?

A question we are asked a lot is, ‘should we renovate or sell our home?
For some, the thought of living with some disruption and mess is daunting and the moving option seems easier and somewhat less painful. However, shopping for homes with the desired criteria usually results in substantially increased mortgages and often some sacrifice in one area or another anyway.

Keep in mind the hours involved in shopping for a home as well as the costs of a lawyer, land transfer tax, real estate commission, moving costs etc. These things already add up to a good chunk that could be put towards a renovation. We do recognize that this is not the solution to every situation and there are times when a move must be made. But, taking the time to consider a renovation might prove to be a viable option.

If you like where you live but you need more space or better functioning space, then renovating might be the most economical. Many times homes can be rearranged to achieve desired results. Older homes in older neighbourhoods have the advantage of often having larger lots and more mature trees.

Newer construction can have more updated layouts and finishings but that doesn’t necessarily mean better in terms of quality and is completely dependent on the builder. Both older and newer homes can be renovated to suit your needs. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but by taking the time to investigate all of the options available to you, you can confidently proceed knowing you have made the best decision for you.