Spring 2015 – Home Improvement and Renovation Tips


Spring is finally here and with warmer temperatures working in our favour, many homeowners are eager to tackle home projects that have been placed on the backburner over the winter.  From the ‘big spring clean,’ to maintenance and renovations, this season brings a buzz of activity around the house for DIY weekend warriors as well as professional contractors.  For those us who have had difficulty finding a home due to a shortage of listings in the GTA, or the $1 million price tag for the average Toronto detached house, renovating your current property has become a popular alternative. 

Before beginning any major home project, a plan of action should be implemented.  This should include research, preparing a budget to adhere to, knowing the history of your home and any structural issues it may have, as well as hiring reputable contractors who would be suitable for the project which you wish to undertake.  Major renovations can seem stressful, however, when planned and executed properly, can make your home more livable and increase its resale value significantly.   

No matter the size of your project, a homeowner should have an idea of what to expect.  Whether it is to create more space for a growing family, add sustainable features to your home design, increase functionality of your existing space, or convert your basement into a rental apartment, educating yourself on costs involved and preparing a budget is necessary.  It is easy for expenses to go unnoticed, especially when they find themselves among a list of others.  Before you know it, you’ve gone over $30,000 over budget, and have tacked on chunk of unexpected debt.

It helps to speak to someone whose home has undergone a similar renovation.  This can help you with design ideas as well as what costs would be involved.  Oftentimes, neighbours can tell you a lot about your house and can provide insightful advice simply because their home most likely shares similar structural traits to yours.  Asbestos use, soil type, original electrical work and plumbing, are factors that might have been overlooked during an initial home inspection and are important to bring to a contractor’s attention before beginning your project.  If your neighbour is satisfied with the work that was completed, and the result looks like something you’d like for your home, ask to get referred to their contractor.

Finding a reputable contractor whose work you approve of can save you a lot of time and money.  Word of mouth is usually one of the best ways to find a trustworthy contractor, however, it is always wise to do your own research.  Although we’d always like to have a project completed within budget, hiring a contractor based on price alone, is never a good idea.  Over the long term, poor workmanship can result in costly repairs.  Minimize surprises by obtaining quotes and estimates in detailed writing.  Always obtain referrals, as this can mean the difference between a dream reno and a disaster.  Additionally, contractors should be able to provide proof of liability insurance.   Depending on the project, knowledge of municipal codes and by-laws should be required.  Request copies of insurance policies and call to ensure they are up to date and enforced.  Ontario law allows homeowners to withhold 10 per cent of money owed to the contractor for a maximum of 45 days once the job is complete to allow the homeowner to assess whether there are any issues with the workmanship.  Taking on a major structural project is a big decision, and this can offer a homeowner peace of mind, as well as assurance that the quality of the project meets your standards.

With interest rates at a historical low, home renovations serve as an excellent long-term investment, which can greatly increase resale value.  Financing a renovation should always be approached cautiously, as becoming house poor over a renovation is not worth the stress of involved.  For more real estate tips on how to get the most from your investment or property, contact us or check out HighGate’s Professional Renovation and Maintenance services.

HighGate Property Investments Inc: Your Source for Professional GTA Real Estate Services