How to Prepare Before Starting Home Renovations
Written by Kimberley Falk
Whether your kids have all gone off to college or you got that promotion at work, your home renovation contemplations are finally going to become a reality. Before you take the sledge hammer to those old kitchen cabinets, make sure you’ve done all the preparation necessary to ensure everything ends successfully and legally.
Find Out if You Need a Permit
It’s better to find out beforehand if your renovation plans require a permit from your municipality and the Ontario Building Code rather than after you’ve already taken out your front steps. You can find a lot of information and applications on The City of Kingston website. Also, it’s crucial to find out if your home is considered a heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act. You could face a fine for building without permissions, which would skyrocket your budget.
Don’t expect to finish a large renovation job in only a matter of months and be prepared to be living in a dust filled home until everything is finished.
Look at More Than Just the References
Getting a reference from potential contractors isn’t enough to promise quality and experience. It’s easy for an independent contract to offer references from their friends and family. Instead, check out previous jobs done and ask your own networks for recommendations. Remember, a cheap contractor can also mean a cheap job done.
Get Everything in Writing
Vocally telling your contractors the type of wood and other specifications won’t be enough to ensure that they’ll remember or even follow through. Many contracts have clauses that say they can substitute materials for those of equal or greater value, so review that contract in depth so you know what they do or don’t have to notify you about.
Know Your Rights and the Law
Under the Consumer Protection Act 2002, you have an automatic 10 day “cooling off” period where you can change your mind about a contract. Make sure you read up on all your consumer rights to make sure your contractors are doing things the right way.
Expect the Unexpected
Especially with older homes, there could be hidden problems that surface once you’ve started a renovation job. Molds and other water damage, faulty wiring, etc., can lead to renovation detours, so be sure to plan for these possibilities within your budget. And who knows, your college bound kid could suddenly decide to move back in (knock on those new hardwood floors).
It’s Going to Take More Time and Money than Planned
Don’t expect to finish a large renovation job in only a matter of months and be prepared to be living in a dust filled home until everything is finished. Contractors have leeway when it comes to finishing projects on deadline; just because there’s an end date doesn’t mean that’s when it’ll actually be over.
Sometimes things are just out of your control, so be sure to take the time to prepare yourself mentally. And, remember, at the end of all this, you’ll get to look at your brand new en-suite bathroom and look back on those renovation memories with fond disregard.