Home renovation costs you don’t want to overlook

When it comes to home renovation, design dreams come with a price - and whether you’re planning to gut your kitchen or just repaint a room or two, you’ll want to keep your budget under control. Here’s five tips to consider before you start renovating, to ensure there’s no sticker shock at the end of your project.

1. Don’t underestimate costs

Do you believe renovations can be done quickly and cheaply? Think again. Take a step back and see if you’re setting unreasonable expectations in regards to renovation timelines and budgets.

To better understand the real cost of your project, gather information. Contact multiple contractors and ask for quotes. Chat with friends and neighbours about the costs of their renovations. Start to price out materials, must-have furniture pieces, and shop around for the best deals. This way, you’ll start with a more realistic baseline and understanding of what you can really achieve within your budget.

2. Have a contingency fund

Renovating older buildings – and sometimes new buildings too – can bring unforeseen costs. There’s no telling what you’ll find once you start opening up walls and tearing out floors!

Begin with a sound budget and prepare for the possibility that there will be additional issues and surprises you’ll need to deal with. Include a contingency fund of at least 10% on top of your total project cost to cover any changes and unexpected expenses. If your project is larger in scope and more complex, consider increasing your contingency to 20% to 30%.

3. Include all expenses

The costs of materials and labour are not the only things you should include in your budget. Permits, architectural and design plans, waste disposal, and clean-up are other line items you’ll want to budget for.

Are you living at home or moving out for the duration of the renovation? A construction project (compared to a renovation) comes with additional costs. Factor in the cost of temporary accommodation and storage of your belongings (onsite or at an offsite facility) as well. Finally, review your home insurance policy. Extra coverage or a builder’s risk policy may be required, depending on the size and scope of your project.

4. Return on investment

Unless you’re planning to stay in your home forever, you’ll want to consider the potential return on any significant improvements or renovations you undertake. Kitchen and bathroom renovations typically recoup their costs and increase the value of your home. However, more unique improvements like a steam room or elaborate garden might not be as enticing to future home buyers.

As well, consider if the changes you make are suited to your local market. If homes in the surrounding area feature hardwood flooring throughout, will your budget ceramic tile and laminate flooring be enticing? Are you overspending or underspending for what the market demands? If you’re looking at your home renovations as an investment, you’ll need to balance personal taste and style with potential resale value.

5. Consider waiting

It might be enticing to tackle a renovation right away, but consider what might be gained if you wait a few months or more. You’ll give yourself time to save additional funds, research more, and price compare. As well, you’ll have lived in your house for a longer time and can gain better insight into how you want spaces to function and what improvements are a priority.

Renovating hastily and on a smaller budget can impact many decisions, from opting for the cheapest but not necessarily the best contractor to using sub-par materials. Taking your time might result in a better executed, more functional and satisfying result.

At the outset, home renovations can feel risky and overwhelming. With research, sound decision making, and an eye on the numbers, you can trade that discomfort for at least some level of preparedness and confidence that you can handle whatever comes your way.



Jen Flores is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.