Ten steps to successful renovations

6. In order to prepare as precise a budget as possible, shop around for the different types of materials, com- paring their prices as well as their durability. Plan for an extra 10 or 20 percent of your budget to meet unexpected expenses, which have an amazing ability to sneak up and take you by surprise. 7. If you need financing, a consultant at your bank- ing institution will be able to explain the various avenues open to you, taking into account any equity available on the home and your assets. They will be well informed about any financial products intended specifically for home owners to fund renovations. 8. Now comes the critical step: the choice of contractor. Verify that he or she is well-established, has all the required permits, is a member of a professional asso- ciation, and has worked on similar projects. Ask them for references, a detailed estimate, and a clear-cut contract with a deadline for completion of the work. Deciding to carry out at least some of the renovation work yourself will translate into substantial savings. 9. Once the work has started, be present at the worksite as much as possible in order to quickly detect any mis- takes and rapidly resolve any problems by discussing them with the contractor. 10.When the work is finished, ensure that it has been done as stipulated in the contract — don’t sign any- thing until all is completed to your satisfaction. Finally, wait until the end of the payment time limit stated in the contract to pay the contractor your last installment. This gives you some leverage if any unresolved details arise in the days after the work crew clears out.

1. Evaluate your needs in a realistic way. If you expect to sell your home in a few years, you won’t see things in the same way as if you plan to spend the rest of your life there. If you’re there for the long term, try to anticipate the needs of your family down the road; determine if the work you’re planning to do now will make sense in a few years’ time. 2. Your aesthetic desires are important, but major home maintenance should come first. If your electric wiring is old and the roof is beginning to show its age, this kind of maintenance work should be carried out before you consider any other types of improvements to the house. The golden rule: maintenance before renova- tions. Ignore this particular guideline at your peril! You won’t enjoy your new sun room if rainwater is dripping through your ceiling elsewhere in the house. 3. Read all available information about the type of renovations you’re considering. Useful sources include documents published by government organizations, specialized magazines, and websites. Grill friends, neighbours, and material suppliers about their knowl- edge and experiences with renovation. You’ll want to avoid reproducing their horror stories! 4. Draw up several different plans. You might entrust this step to a professional (architect, architectural techni- cian, or interior designer), having first looked through their portfolios and checked their references. They can draw up definitive plans and, if you wish, prepare esti- mates for the materials required. 5. Don’t go any further before having your plans approved by your municipality. Renovation regulations vary con- siderably from one town to another.

Perhaps you’ve finally decided to carry out the renovations that you’ve been dream- ing about for years. But where to start? And how to avoid botching the job? It’s all a matter of careful planning. These ten steps are a guide to make your task easier; follow them, and you’re sure to be proud of your finished renovation project.


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