How To: Prepare for Renovating

Spring has sprung and maybe you’re finally ready to build that new deck, paint those golden oak cabinets in the kitchen or install that new bathroom tile. Renovations are a natural part of home ownership — here’s a few things to consider before you swing that sledgehammer or make a trip to your local home improvement store.

WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION?
Are you selling your home and looking to increase the value? Have you purchased a house with the sole purpose of renovating it to make it the home of your dreams? Is your home outdated? What are you looking to accomplish? Just a few questions to answer before you start ripping up that old carpet or tearing down those paisley drapes.

CONSIDER A HOME INSPECTION
If you’ve lived in your home for a number of years the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) suggests a complete home inspection as a way of giving you a snapshot of the condition of your home and is a good starting point before diving in with a renovation. “For effective long-term planning and budgeting, it is important to know when to expect major home maintenance expenses,” said the CHBA. “An inspection can make it easier to plan for future expenses such as furnace and roof replacement.”

NEED A PERMIT?
Do you need to get a specific permit before you start swinging that sledgehammer? Within the City of Calgary, a building permit is required for erecting a new building or structure — including retaining walls over 1.2 metres, swimming pools and hot tubs as well as demolishing, relocating, repairing, altering or making additions to existing buildings or structures. Building permits in Calgary are not required for fences, sidewalks, planters, retaining walls less than 1.2 metres, painting, minor repairs or accessory buildings not greater than 10 square metres in area — if they do not create a hazard. Electrical and plumbing permits are separate from building permits so contact the City at 311 or www.calgary.ca before beginning any electrical or plumbing projects.

WHAT’S YOUR TIMEFRAME?
Having a wedding in your backyard and looking to build a new deck? Did you pull the short straw on hosting Christmas dinner this year and want to paint the dining room days away from the big event? Timing is important when it comes to planning for your home renovation. Are you planning on taking the DIY route or hiring a contractor? In a city like Calgary, contractors are busy folks so if you’re taking the professional route it’s important to call to see how far in advance they’re booking. Or if you’re doing renovations yourself, you’ll maybe want to take some time off or be willing to live with a home in mid-renovation mode while you work at it evenings and weekends. Architect Tim Anderson offers this: “For a major home renovation, the design, permit and construction process often takes more than a year. Are you willing to invest that much time and effort?”

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
Have you been saving up to finally rid your kitchen of that peach and forest green motif ? Budget is a major part of renovation preparation and Probuilt by Michael Upshall suggests adding two to three per cent to your final budget as a contingency backup. In 2011, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation reported Canadians spent an average of $13,709 on renovations, of that amount, 81 per cent of respondants who undertook renovations in that year paid for part of the work from savings while 11 per cent chose to finance part of the cost through a line of credit or credit card. In a survey released by Scotiabank on May 21, 62 per cent of respondents said they’d finance their home project with cash savings while 29 per cent said they’d be using a line of credit.

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