Valley First

Home Reno Advice

Simple advice to make the most of your home renovations

According to recent figures one in four British Columbians plan on renovating their homes over the next twelve months. In the process they will spend about $19,000, significantly more than the $15,300 national average.

Any large project or expense can add financial strain to a household budget and stress to an already busy family, says Kevin McCarron a branch manager Valley First. However, with proper planning and research a renovation can quickly move from DIY-nightmare to wise investment.

Before beginning any renovation you should have a clear understanding of the costs and the scope of the project. McCarron recommends getting several estimates from qualified contractors and then adding 10 to 15 per cent to cover those “just in case” costs.

“By planning out your renovation with an experienced contractor, you’ll develop a clear understanding on costs and expectations,” says McCarron. “You’ll also be happier with the final result and price tag.”

Karen Singbeil, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board agrees: “Your home is probably your most valuable asset. It pays to consult a third-party professional, like a realtor or an interior designer, before you start a renovation project. You’ll be able to make better-informed decisions that fit your budget, your timeline and your long-term goals.”

When considering renovations, many homeowners are also thinking about resale value. The best and cheapest home improvements include repainting, sprucing up the exterior, and even replacing outdated lighting fixtures.

“Potential homebuyers always look for renovated kitchens and bathrooms. But these types of big-ticket renovations often have a high price tag, with no guarantee you’ll get your money back when you sell your home,” says Singbeil. “It’s actually the little things often deliver the most bang-for-the-buck. Repainting is a lower-cost renovation that will leave a great impression on homebuyers. So is general repair—fixing leaky facets for example, or re-caulking tubs, windows and doors.”

Flooring upgrades can also be a wise investment, especially for those with the know-how to do the renovation work themselves. “Installing hardwood flooring is a project that some people can do on their own,” she says. “At the same time, don’t be fooled by all the home renovation TV shows that make everything look easy—it’s still advisable to consult a professional before you begin.”

Singbeil says the number one renovation question she encounters is whether or not to redo the basement. “Renovate your basement if you want to use it for your own enjoyment, not if you’re hoping to increase your home’s resale value,” she says. “The next buyer might want to do different renovations altogether.”

“When contemplating renovations, people often tend to overlook their home’s exterior,” Singbeil adds. “Exterior touch-ups and landscaping upgrades can really increase the curb appeal of your home if you’re thinking of selling.”

McCarron firmly believes education is an essential element to any renovation. This includes understanding local building codes, zoning by-laws and obtaining the necessary permits for any proposed work. It also extends to green building options.

“Your contractor is a great source of information; however, it can also pay to use an architect so that your plans are structurally sound and you remain within the bounds of your home insurance,” says McCarron. “There are often rebates and even tax credits available for eco-friendly renovations. Home owners can visit the LiveSmart BC website for information on which renovations may qualify.”

After finding a contractor, making a plan and drawing up a budget, take the time to ensure you have a cost-effective way to fund your upcoming renovations, advises McCarron.

“It’s important to have proper financing available. The cost of your renovation will go up dramatically if you rely on high interest products like credit cards. Take advantage of low interest rates by renegotiating your mortgage, taking out a home equity line of credit or applying for a personal loan. Take the time to meet with a financial expert you trust—they’ll work with you to find a solution that works for your family.


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