10 Musts When Renovating Your home For Success

renovating home

You need to know these 10 things when renovating your home

Before you begin renovating your home, you need to know that it can be a big job and if you don’t know what you’re doing, things can go from bad to worse, very quickly. There are many sad cases of home renovations not going as planned – often going way over budget or schedule, or unforeseen complications popping up unexpectedly and ruining previously completed work. Most of these situations would never have gone so awry with some careful planning and early decision making sooner in the renovation process. Below are a few vital issues to think about before renovating your home.

This is why you need a general contractor if you want to do any work on your Toronto home. Being a general contractor is about thinking “big picture” and being able to visualize the finished product and how it’s put together by a set of plans.

10 Things You Need To Know When Renovating Your Home

1. Prepare a budget

planning your home renovation budget

Prior to shopping for your new bathroom or kitchen you must know your spending limits. Whether you are getting a loan or paying cash, you need to work out how much your project is going to cost. Some businesses also offer finance solutions for approved customers.

2. Be aware of council regulations and city guidelines

City of Toronto

Find out all the information you can before you arrange a general contractor. If your home is heritage listed you will need to meet strict council regulations. Cities like Toronto require homeowners to apply for permits, however there are many renovations that may require council approval. Contact your local council for more details.

3. Finding a General Contractor

home renovation contractor working with homeowner

Speak with family and friends who have done renovations or built a home. It is important to find a general contractor that you can communicate with. Make sure you understand everything they are telling you. Book a general contractor well ahead of time, as they can be booked for months in advance. Ensure that your general contractor is licensed. Your product warranties are only valid if installed by a licensed general contractor. In Canada, Trusted Pros and Homestars provide professional, reliable tradespeople for most jobs, and most workmanship is guaranteed. Know your start and completion dates.

Communicate with your general contractor and come to an agreement of realistic start and completion dates for your project. If you have a specific date that the job must be finished by, for example you have relatives coming to stay, let your general contractor know. Keep in mind that unexpected problems can hold up your project, no matter how well you have planned it.

4. Know your start and completion dates

planning your home renovation start date

Figuring out when you will be able to realistically start and end your project is a commonly overlooked aspect of renovating a home, but not doing so can potentially cost you thousands of dollars in extras. For example, a project that requires digging or cement work; like deck and fence posts or home addition and garage foundations, should begin in the spring or summer months. Starting in late fall or winter will require extra workers, equipment and supplies to combat the cold.

5. Selecting Products

shopping for finishes and home renovation appliances

It may take a few shopping trips for you to decide on the products that give you the look you desire and are also practical for your home renovation project. Browse through a print or online catalogue. Once you have decided on a style (modern, heritage or easy living) this will narrow down your product choices. Be aware of any size restrictions of the room. When renovating your home it’s helpful to print out or write down product specifications and measure up your bathroom, kitchen and other rooms. You may use the online planner at the IKEA website to layout the products you have chosen.

Talk to your general contractor about your choices. If the general contractor tells you that a product you have chosen is unsuitable, find out why. It may just be that extra work is required that they don’t want to do. It may push out the end date, or cost extra. Remember to keep an additional 10% for overages. After all, it’s your home and you need to be satisfied once the home renovation is complete.

6. Prepare plans

renovating your home with new drawings

It is important that you draw up plans of your bathroom or kitchen. Discuss the plans with your general contractor. Let him know what sort of products you would like, so he will know what work needs to be done. For example if you have chosen an in-wall cistern, the general contractor will need to know so he can set up the plumbing correctly before the tiling is done. It is best to have specifications of all of the products you have chosen so the general contractor knows exactly what work is required.

7. Purchasing products

schedule deliveries

When selecting products, find out how long it will take for delivery. Some goods such as tapware and toilets will be in stock, while others such as spas and vanity units are custom made and can take up to 1 month to order in. Often these custom made products are non-refundable so confirm your product choices with your general contractor before ordering. Find out from your general contractor which products they will required first. Generally, the first products needed are the shower base, bath or spa and mixers if they are being installed on the wall.

8. As an owner builder, what should I purchase myself?

deciding what home renovation products to buy

If you are owner building, make sure while renovating your home, that you purchase all of the main products for your bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. This will ensure that you make all of the decisions and achieve the result you want. There will be things you will not think about when placing an order, such as different handle types on a vanity unit, the pump position of your spa, that you will need to decide on. It is important to make these decisions yourself as they will affect the overall result of your project. Smaller fittings for plumbing can be purchased by your general contractor.

9. What services are available to my property?

home gas services

It is important to know whether you need gas or electric appliances (hot water unit, cooking appliances). If you currently have electric appliances and you want to change to gas, speak with your general contractor to determine if this is going to be cost effective and worthwhile in the long run. If you are building a new home, decide on the appliances you want before building begins, as the plumbing will need to be roughed in based on your product selection.

10. What sort of hot water unit do I need?

replacing hot water heater during home renovation project

There is a wide range of hot water units available and it can be quite daunting to try and choose one. If you are replacing an existing unit your choices can be limited, so speak with your general contractor. The instantaneous hot water units are popular at the moment, but they use a larger gas line than the standard storage units. This can mean major plumbing changes which can be quite costly, though in the long run the instantaneous systems are cost efficient.


Many of these points seem somewhat obvious, but the problem arises when you start taking things for granted. When you don’t make sure that all your bases are covered, you may find that you have invested a lot of time, effort and money in a home renovation that you may end up unhappy with.

Related Article: 3 Reasons To Work With A General Contractor On Your Home Renovation
Related Page: Home Improvement Services

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