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Guide to renovating your own home


Renovating your own home can be one of the most satisfying projects that any adult can undertake, with the satisfaction of completion and job well done at the end of it, as well as a beautiful home to live in.

Whereas some people will want to buy a home that is already perfect, that is rarely going to be the case for most people. Most home buyers will either buy a home that needs changes to make it into the sort of home that they like, or they go actively looking for a house that is a project that they can make into the beautiful, perfect home.

Renovating your home can also be a great way of increasing the value of the property, whether you are planning on selling it, or just to have that option further down the line.

Whichever category you fit in to, there are a number of different things that any home renovator will need to be aware of when renovating your home.

Planning Your Project

The very first thing to do is to understand the house that you are planning on renovating and turning into a beautiful home. It is also important to understand your own skill level, in terms of how much work you can do yourself and for how much you will need a contractor.

Therefore, the first thing is to have a plan. This plan will be what needs doing in order to renovate the home (and in what order), and secondly, who will do the renovating. Will you be doing the work yourself, or will you be bringing in the skills and experience of a professional?

Having a plan is so important. If you start renovating your home with no clear idea of what it is that you want to achieve, then you will struggle. Start by looking at other homes, perhaps homes of friends and family, or magazines or TV programmes that show people’s houses, as this can give you ideas of colour and style to work with throughout your project. It may be that your thoughts and ideas change throughout the project, but by starting with a plan you are more likely to succeed.

It can also be important to have a fair idea of how much your renovation is going to cost, either by costing it yourself or by getting quotations from contractors. Costing your project ahead of time gives you an idea of whether you will have the funds to complete the project, as a half-completed project where you have run out of funds could be very stressful. You may also find that it is going to cost less than you expected, and you may be able to do more renovation than you initially thought. Once you have costed your renovation, it is important to keep track of costs throughout, so you always know whether you are under or over your budget.

Working with Contractors

For many jobs in your home renovation, you are likely to be working with a contractor, so thinking carefully about the contractor process from beginning to end will save you time, money, paperwork and potentially no end of headaches.

Part of the complexity of home renovations is choosing the correct contractor. Some contractors may specialise only in particular parts of renovations (plumbing or electrics for example) while some contractors will be able to work on all parts of the project for you.

In terms of communication, it is probably easier to you to deal with the same contractor throughout your renovation project, as it is then easier to manage the schedule of works that needs doing. If one contractor is waiting on the work of another contractor before continuing work, then delays can easily occur, and those delays can increase overall costs.

Contractors can often be found by recommendation from other people, perhaps family or friends or people known by them, who have also had renovations. As a home renovation is likely to be a costly experience, and they are working on something of great value, your home, being confident in your contractor is a very important part of the process.

You should get quotes and references from a few contractors, and organisations such as the Canadian Home Builders’ Association can advise you through the process.

Legal Issues

Any complex renovation is also likely to have legal issues. There may be specific costs in relation to permits that you should be aware of before starting your project, these should be considered as part of the overall costs of the project, and you should also ensure that you have the relevant permission and paperwork before starting.

It can be very risk to begin renovating your home before having the relevant permissions and paperwork, as a subsequent refusal could lead to significant and expensive delays or even termination of the project.

If you are buying a home with the intention of renovating it, you should do your research prior to purchase as to whether you will be able to make the changes that you wish to make.

Contractors will be able to help you with this during your project, as they will have had experience in this area.

You should also be aware of the possibility of liens on your property, if your contractor does not pay sub-contractors, which could potentially reduce the value of your property. You should make yourself aware of the lien laws for your particular province as well as how much of the value of the total job cost that you are required by law to hold back. The local Consumer Affairs or Protection Office will be able to assist you here.


Renovating your home is a complex but ultimately rewarding experience for any homeowner, if it is well-planned, researched and organised, with all legal considerations in mind. Working with a skilled contractor can make the whole process easier, and leave you with a beautiful, newly-renovated home with increased value for you to enjoy for years to come.

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