by Dan Van der Vlugt, B.Sc.
DFH Real Estate Ltd. –
Before you begin, ask yourself, “Why am I renovating?” Is it to gain additional income by adding a rental suite? To prepare the home for sale? Or perhaps to expand on your existing living space? Whatever it is, have a plan in mind before you start.
Compare quotes from multiple trades, then begin writing a realistic budget. You should shop around to educate yourself on the pricing of the items you plan to upgrade. And give yourself a healthy cushion for each item, in case you rip down drywall and find the dreaded black mold or dry rot. There are always going to be unforeseen expenses when renovating used homes. Write down an ideal timeline for completion, and don’t wait to book trades. Most tradesmen are busy in our market; try to account for that by adding some leeway into your timeline.
The resources online these days are vast (YouTube, Pinterest, etc.) – even if you’re not so handy with the tools, take time to watch online tutorials. Set aside a night to watch some HGTV, and take note of the colours, décor and staging used. You can save some major dough by putting in sweat equity, but for jobs beyond your scope you need to weigh up if laying pesky tiles or drywall mudding is worth your time.
Kitchens and bathrooms are high on the priority list for most buyers, but remember that everyone has different tastes. A kitchen that you’ve just spent a fortune on might not be what the new owners want. When a buyer does their building inspection, the roof and perimeter drains are big ticket items. If you don’t want to negotiate dollars off your sale price, tend to problems that the roof or drains have before listing. Take care of deferred maintenance outside that is quick and easy to fix.
If you’re looking for the best return on your money, flooring is relatively inexpensive. If you’re already ripping up bathroom floors, get a quote on in-floor heating: it’s less expensive and more efficient than you’d think. If your home is looking a bit tired and could use some paint to freshen it up, choose natural tones that please the majority of buyers. Keep in mind that darker colours are harder to paint over and more imposing. Painting cupboards and doors and changing up handles is a cost effective way of modernizing an older home. Updating faucets, window coverings, lights and switches goes a long way in the eyes of someone viewing your home for the first time. At the very least, replace broken switches, bulbs and outlets. If it’s in your budget, replace single pane and failing windows. Also think about upgrading to gas: there are many energy efficient rebates available on windows and gas heating systems.
When it’s time to list your fixed-up home, think about first impressions – you only get one chance to make them. Make sure everything is spotless, uncluttered, and that personal items are packed away. Remove items obstructing buyers from walking up to the windows to observe the view. Maybe you don’t have a great eye for design and need help staging? Not to worry: there are many companies to choose from. Whatever advice you can take from this, the most important thing is don’t procrastinate!