Over the years we’ve tackled renovations of all shapes and sizes and when it comes to challenges, we’ve seen it all. There are hundreds of decisions to make and at times involves thinking outside the box. 

If you’re thinking of starting a renovation of your own, read on for our top things to consider before breaking out the sledge hammer to make your project run as smoothly as possible and to make sure every penny is well spent.

1. What is your budget and is it realistic to achieve everything on your wish list?

The number one tip we have when it comes to renovating your home is to have realistic expectations. The price of building in the last 5 years has almost doubled due to increased labour and materials cost. As a general rule, you can expect to spend the same cost in labour as you will in actual materials. 

We are definitely biased, but the Interior Designer’s role is critical in the planning stages. Our real value is developing realistic (and often creative) solutions to design dilemmas within your budget and timeline. Our goal: to make sure your space is beautiful AND functional for your specific lifestyle.

Some very simple advice such as solidifying your custom cabinetry install first, then creating a schedule working back from that date could save you weeks that you won’t be living without a kitchen or bathroom. 

Interior Design Concept presentation
Interior Design concept presentation

2. Start with a broad list of goals. 

Most of our clients have spent months or even years dreaming of a renovation. They have dozens of Pinterest boards with hundreds of options for each space. Friends and family have offered dozens of differing opinions on what they think should be done, often causing doubt and confusion.

In the beginning planning stage, start with a very general list such as: What do I want the overall feel of my home be? What functionality is my home lacking that I need in my new space? 

Keeping this list in mind throughout the entire planning and construction process will help you narrow down the scope of the project and to prioritize where your money will be best spent. Should unexpected costs arise, having this list can help you to make quick decisions on items that can easily be cut or areas where you are willing to compromise on design to keep your project on budget and on time.

3. Should you hire a contractor or are you capable of managing your own project?

There are dozens of factors to consider when deciding whether or not you should hire a contractor and is often specific to your unique situation. 

Fees to have someone manage your project typically range between 15-20%. Project managers take care of everything from engineered plans, building and electrical permitting, demolition, asbestos abatement, hiring and managing trades, ordering cabinetry, construction and home warranties. 

If you’re considering managing your own project, your first stop should be your local government which breaks down legal requirements such as rezoning, bylaws, building codes and permits that you may need. In British Columbia, they’ve created a simple guide to first steps for building or renovating that can help you decide if you’re up to the challenge.

For small scale projects, a designer can help walk you through the process, scheduling and connecting you with local trades such as plumbers, electricians, millworkers, finishing carpenters, etc. Having professional knowledge will streamline your process and give you confidence as you navigate through your project. 

Arched bookshelves on either side of a fireplace
Construction of a new ensuite and soaker tub area

4. Make design decisions that increase the value of your property. 

Whether you are planning on staying in your home for 1 year or 30 years, your renovation should bring value to your home and it’s sometimes hard to know where to draw the line. 

Consider you are planning to renovate the main bathroom and ensuite in your home that was originally built in the late 1970s. You’ve been told that to save cost you should keep the plumbing in their existing locations however, your ensuite is barely big enough for one person to be in at a time. Since both spaces will already be completely reconstructed, the additional cost to move a wall to enlarge the ensuite and adjust plumbing locations will be a small percentage of the total cost and will more than make up the overall value of your home.

5. Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions. 

For years it’s been drilled into us that design decisions should be based on resale-ability, yet sometimes this really limits the full potential of a home. In the past, any realtor would tell you that eliminating a bedroom limits buyers and devalues your home. But the truth is, your home will never be 100% perfect for everyone, but will be great down the road for someone with a similar lifestyle to you. 

One of the biggest requests we get from homeowners is a large laundry room with plenty of room for storage, a laundry sink and hanging space. A couple of years ago, we converted a bedroom in our client’s 3 bedroom, 2 bath home into a beautiful laundry room. The third bedroom became a combination guest room and shared office which maintained the original function while adding major value with a highly sought after space. While this home may no longer be ideal for a family with multiple children, it’s ideal for empty nesters and young professionals.

Beverly Hills Hotel wallpaper in bathroom
Modern farmhouse bathroom with black and white patterned tile floors, wood vanity and shiplap walls

6. Consider making changes for aging in place

Whether your house is your forever home or not, consider adding value with universal design elements. These include wider door openings, wheelchairs, transition less showers, and master bedrooms and kitchens on the main floor. If your home is designed with all the bedrooms upstairs, adding an elevator makes your entire home accessible should you ever have reduced mobility issues.

Since 2011, the first Baby Boomers have begun to retire and they are choosing to live in their homes for as long as possible. This means that the need for accessible homes will continue to rise in the next coming decades. Making even a few of these simple changes can add years you are able to spend in your home. And if you aren’t planning on aging in place in your current home, having even some of these features will increase the number of potential buyers when it comes time to sell.

7. Above all, keep an open mind!

Regardless of how well you plan and how healthy your budget is, when you are renovating you have to expect there will be compromises due to restraints of the building structure or bylaws and building codes. 

Keep an open mind and when challenges arise, get creative. Maybe you had your heart set on a large fireplace but the original opening has limited the size of a new insert. Close off the old fireplace and build out in front. Venting from your furnace can’t be moved and goes straight through a wall you were hoping to eliminate. Build a false cabinet to hide it to create a seamless look. You get the picture!

We hope this helps with your upcoming projects. Please share this post if you found it helpful and think it might help someone else out as well!

If you have any specific questions, comment below or DM us on instagram!