Talk to any homeowner and they'll have a story about a home renovation they've done, or will be tackling. And if they're not planning one, they're likely watching others go through it, either down the street or on television. Whether prepping their home for sale or simply making some overdue updates, spring is peak time for home improvements.
From small projects like changing a fixture or vanity to an entire kitchen replacement, renos -- especially DIY -- can be an exciting or stressful process.
Sebastian Clovis, contractor and home reno guru on the new HGTV Canada show, $ave My Reno, shares some advice to help ensure your renovations end in success -- while staying on budget.
The right stuff.
If you want good results it's important to start with the right material. A common mistake many people make, according to Clovis, is not using the right materials for the job. The wrong type or thickness of drywall, the wrong thin set and grout when tiling, or even the wrong type of caulking can lead to having to redo work that will ultimately result in wasted time, money -- and a lot of stress. And it's also important to be realistic about the skill level you have before swinging a mallet or firing up a saw.
"I'm pro DIY, but there's a point where you need to draw the line," says Clovis. "You shouldn't be trying to execute full blown renovations in major spaces like kitchens and bathrooms. There's a difference between a makeover and a reno; the minute you have cabinets and drywall coming down, do yourself a favour and call in a pro."
Tools of the trade.
Every homeowner, handy or not, needs at least some basic tools in their box to handle anything from small DIY jobs to bigger projects. Make sure you invest in these top three tools:
• Battery operated driver/screw gun: The driver will likely be the most used tool in anyone's house; it's useful for tightening screws or bolts, drilling holes or any number of DIY projects. Invest in a good quality driver and substantial bit set.
• Tape measure: Look for an easy-locking tape measure that's at least 16 feet long. Also, get one with a thick, sturdy tape as skinnier aren't very strong and can be frustrating to work with.
• Hammer: Chances are you'll need to hang something up - a picture, shelf or mirror -and banging a nail with the heel of a shoe isn't exactly ideal. Get a hammer with a steel shaft, a comfortable grip, and a straight claw as opposed to curved.
Do your research.
Big renovations tend to require bigger budgets, and it's important to keep costs in line. But while it may be tempting to go with the cheapest quote, it's worth paying for a quality contractor because, as with everything, quality comes with a price tag. Clovis advises to hire a contractor who can provide several references of former clients you can speak to, and ask to see the spaces they've worked on. "A good contractor will be more than happy to provide you with those contacts. Ask about their experience with the contractor and the quality of work. And always check for proper licences and insurance."
Know where to find savings.
Make sure you also get a schedule and a budget from the contractor that breaks down the cost of things such as appliances, hardware, cabinets and other materials. While they often pass on their special pricing, a contractor's savings are usually taken off the full retail price, so you may find items cheaper online or if there's a big sale. "If you can source the material for a lower cost and get them on site in time, then we'll adjust the quote," advises Clovis. Also, you can save money by timing your reno for the off-season. Contractors are busiest (and more expensive) in the summer months so if possible, plan to do it during a less popular time.
As Clovis admits, the best part of any home reno is standing back and looking at the finished product -- a job well done. "The sweetest moment is seeing the homeowner's faces when their space is finished and you give them that final handshake. There's always this look of disbelief and joy that the trauma of the renovation is over and that this home is all theirs."
Sari Friedman is the Marketing Director of Ebates Canada and resident shopping expert. Ebates.ca is Canada's largest cash back shopping site. As a fashion enthusiast and new mom, Sari has an eye for finding and sharing amazing deals on the hottest trends and must-have styles.
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