Daily Archives: August 15, 2016

What Is Your Budget?

Some of this discussion was covered in a previous post, but if you’ve jumped around my website and ended up here, I’ll go over a few important things related to budget.

It is important to have realistic goals and to anticipate that there might be complications. While ORG strives to eliminate the possibility of issues during a renovation project, we can’t always know what’s behind the walls until we open them up. If you have an older home, this is more of a concern.

When settling on a budget and saving your money, think about what you want to see in the space you’re renovating. Research the price differences between different finishing materials. Get a feel for the differences in flooring, and what you’d want for the long term. Or, conversely, if you’re simply updating your home for resale value, be programmatic and strike a balance between basic finishes and high-end options.

Once you know where your renovation is heading, you’ll have a better idea of how much you should be saving for your project.

For example, 20k can get you a nicely finished bathroom renovation, but a comparatively minimal renovation to a kitchen with lower-end finishes (and that’s assuming you are using Ikea cabinetry over other competitors).

A lot of homeowners tend to underestimate the cost of things they cannot see. So remember that a whole bathroom renovation is not just a vanity switch-out, dropping in a new tub, and uprooting the toilet for a new one. It means dry-wall repair, potentially new flooring, new plumbing fixtures, caulking, painting, screws, nails, trim, a new tub usually means new shower tiles — which in turn means, mud, grout, tile-spacers, tile edging trim, additional time is required for inset shelving, and more.

While none of the above items, on their own, seem costly — It can be shocking to see all the little things add up.

Choosing a Renovation Company

Some might ask why I decided to write a post about ‘Choosing a Renovation Company’ because clearly it would stand to reason that I’d want a homeowner to choose my company for their next renovation. And while this is true, I always advise potential clients to ask themselves a few questions and consider a few different things before making that final decision.

Question 1: Is it a renovation or a minor repair?

The first thing you should consider is whether your renovation is worthy of a home renovation company with all the bells and whistles of having a certified electrician and plumber and engineer on standby, or is your home project more appropriate for a handy man?

This is important because a handy man will charge far less to tackle these types of projects (i.e. minor deck repairs, adjusting cabinetry, fixtures removal and replace, etc.) than a contractor would.

However, if you’re planning to overhaul that 1980’s kitchen or update a lackluster bathroom, a contractor is the way to go. They’ll have more knowledge, experience, the right set of tools and experts to get the job done right the first time.

Question 2: How many quotes should I get? And what should I be looking for?

The industry standard is to obtain three separate quotes. When setting up appointments with renovation companies to come out to your house and discuss the proposed project, make sure you pay attention to how soon they get back to you, how direct they are, and whether they show up on time (or at all).

I am always surprised by how often potential clients have informed me that I was the only contractor to show up. This should be a clear red flag.

During the meeting, ask questions and listen to the answers you’re given. Was your question actually answered? There are some cases where it’s acceptable for a contractor not to have an immediate answer to something (perhaps it’s engineering related, or electrical and he’d rather defer to his experts), but there are things that any contractor in the City of Ottawa should know and that is standard building code practice, and whether or not projects require a building permit (more on this here). Pretty soon I’ll be making a post about the right type of questions you should ask and what answers you should be looking for, so stay tuned!

When you receive your quote, look for details. Read the quote in full. Ask questions about things you’re not sure of, or that you find unclear. I have been preparing quotes for 8 years now, and I’ve come to realize that the best way to ensure an organized renovation project is to create a very detailed quote broken down in a logical manner starting from demolition and ending with finishing details (trim, paint touch-ups, hardware, etc…). Lastly, make sure you know what you’re contractor is paying for in terms of materials, and what is your responsibility.

Question 3: What about the old budget discussion?

This is a tricky topic. I’ve discovered a lot of homeowners are reluctant to discuss their renovation budget. Given the way TV often portrays home renovation contractors, I’m not surprised. There is an assumption that if you tell a contractor your budget, he’ll maximize it even if he doesn’t need to. Though I can’t speak to any other company, I can tell you that knowing the budget for me is a paramount discussion. For a number of different reasons, but first and foremost is that I need to know if your budget is realistic as there is a lot of misconception in this industry about what is feasible for what price.

For more information about various costs of different types of renovations and the factors involved, please check out my other posts: