The time has finally come. You have thought long and hard and finally made the decision that it is time to renovate. Great, what’s next?  Where do you start, and what are the next steps? Taking the time to figure out some important details BEFORE you start the process will make everything run smoother.  It will give your design/build firm the direction they need to guide you through the process. These are the Top 5 steps that we recommend in the planning process, before you hire your contractor (or design/build firm).

1- Set a Budget

At this stage, the budget is still more about how you plan to finance this renovation as you are just in the pre-planning stage. You don’t know what the project will cost yet, but it’s important to have an idea what you’re comfortable investing into the project. In the case you are re-financing or taking out a loan it would be a good time to reach out to your bank. It is also good to get an idea of how much you think it will realistically cost to do your renovation. If it is the kitchen that you are renovating, then visit your local appliance store. If you fall in love with the $ 15,000 range well this might adjust how much you have been estimating!

You will not know what the project costs yet – nobody does – but by having a rough idea of what you’re comfortable investing in the project, you’ll be starting off the project with more clarity.

2- Create a Wish List

Now that you have a very rough number in mind for what you want to spend, it is time to create a list of all the items you need to address in your home. What does and does not work in the current space?  Is storage an issue? No powder room on the main floor? Another child on the way and need an extra bedroom? If you’ve lived in this home for years, you’ll have a clear list. If you’re still removing subjects on a home you’re about to buy, this will be more of a challenge.

The more realistic and thought out this Wish List is, the more valuable it will be during the design process.

3-  Prioritize your list

You now have a “Big List” of all the items that you want to address in your home. Does this list seem to match with your budget, or will you have to think about this reno in phases? Maybe you will do the kitchen and 1 bathroom first? And then the remaining bathroom and addition in phase 2? Taking stock of your list and what is a must, a want and a wish is important as your budget might not stretch as far as you think.  If your home was built before the mid 1990’s. It will need to get Hazmat testing and if your home does contain asbestos this cost could be one you never anticipated.

With a prioritized, agreed upon list, adding or removing items from your list will be much easier.


4- Talk Timelines

It is time to put together a timeline of how long you think this renovation will take to fully complete from design to construction. Now that you have your list it is a good time to contact a few reputable contractors or design/build firms to see if your plan to live in your summer cottage for 2 months will be long enough or do you have to make other arrangements? It’s important to figure out whether or not you’ll be able to live in the home during the renovation (and if so, what will that be like?) Will you need a permit for the work you want to do, and how long are wait times?

Heading into a project with a clear expectation of what potential timelines will look like will help eliminate the potential stress, and set you up for a less surprises.


5- Gather Inspiration

Now for the fun part that you probably started months ago, but time to really delve into what you love or do not love!  Create a separate Houzz or Pinterest accounts. Separate them from your partner’s account, if possible.  A good designer will be able to take both of your looks and combine them to work flawlessly together and keep everyone happy.





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