How to make the most of your renovation
Thursday Aug 31st, 2017
As renovation season once again roars into full swing, I'm often asked what can be done to achieve the best renovation possible. My top advice is to be prepared. Here are a few steadfast tips that can lay the groundwork for success:
1. Have a clearly defined plan. Consider hiring an experienced designer to help bring your vision to life.
2. Choose a reliable contractor. Ask for references and proof of license, insurance, bonding and participation in a workman's compensation program.
3. Insist on a detailed contract. It should include a description of the work to be done, a schedule of anticipated completion dates, a cost estimate for the entire job, a reasonable payment schedule, an itemized list of materials and who will select them, an outline of the change-order process, termination clauses, penalty/holdback clauses and warranty details. It sounds like a lot, but this will help avoid issues along the way.
4. Cover your bases. Your contract should also state if sub-contractors will be used and who will be responsible for hiring them, paying them, and ensuring the work is completed properly. Request a receipt with each payment outlining the work and materials it covered. I also recommend getting a written change order for any modifications to a specified job.
5. Be accessible and decisive. This will keep things moving along as smoothly as possible.
6. Visit the site regularly. Inspect all work. Create a 'punch list' of any identified issues. Discuss progress or concerns as they happen.
7. Keep a renovation journal. Record headway. Note questions. Jot down ideas. Keep track of key dates, and document any changes.
8. Do your research and discuss preferred materials with your contractor. Not all building materials are created equal. For example, did you know that some insulation materials can grow harmful mould when exposed to moisture or slump in the wall cavity, reducing effectiveness? Consider opting for quality over price when it counts most. In the case of insulation, Roxul Comfortbatt and Safe 'n' Sound offer greater protection against fire and moisture, while also providing excellent sound resistance and/or thermal comfort. Ultimately, it doesn't make sense to save on cost, if you have to compromise on performance or safety.
9. Be prepared for the unexpected. Set aside a contingency fund representing 10 to 15 per cent of the total budget.
10. Inspect to protect. Before you sign off on the job, consider hiring a professional inspector who may find problems you wouldn't know to look for. After all that you've invested in your renovation, it's a small cost to incur for peace of mind.
Renovating can be stressful, but if you do your due diligence, you're more likely to enjoy a smoother process and greater satisfaction with the end result.
Scott McGillivray is host and executive producer of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator. Follow Scott on Twitter @smcgillivray.