Planning Your Renovation

Great renovations begin with a vision and clear plans. Here's the place to get started on yours. Use the downloadable worksheets to develop your own list of changes, goals and priorities for your renovation.

Advice From Renovators - When a group of professional renovators were asked what design and planning advice they most often give to their customers, here is what they said. Know why you want to renovate What problems are you trying to solve? Most renovations begin with practical issues. For instance, your bathroom may be cramped, you need more storage space in the kitchen, or there is nowhere for the children to play or do homework under your supervision. Evaluate the structure, systems and general condition of your house With your renovator, list the repairs and replacements likely to be required over the next two, five and 10 years. If necessary, be prepared to make trade-offs between lifestyle improvements and work needed to keep your home in good shape. Work with the strengths of your home And save money at the same time. Check under existing carpeting and sheet flooring for old hardwood flooring. Refinish old trim and molding rather than replace it. Resurface cabinets rather than installing new ones. Turn…

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The Importance of Having a Plan - With home renovation, the secret of success lies in careful planning based on a solid understanding of what you want to achieve. This includes having a clear focus on what must be included in your project, as well as any other features you would like to include, if your budget allows. In many cases, the final design and specifications for the project will be worked out with the help of a renovation contractor, designer or architect. However, the more information you can give them, the better they are able to provide you with good advice and accurate cost estimates. What does this information consist of? Here's the list that most renovation contractors recommend: A clear description of what you want to change in your home and why-in order words, what's the purpose of your renovation? Specific goals for your renovation project. A list of future changes you anticipate in your life that could affect what you need in your home. A definition of priorities - which renovation items are…

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Deciding On Changes - The decision to renovate can be triggered by a number of things. You may need to repair or replace something, such as roofing, siding or windows. It may be time to "freshen up" a tired-looking kitchen. Changes in your household, such as the arrival of a new child or the need for a home office may require changes to your home. Often, homeowners simply want to update their home so that it better suits their lifestyle. Take inventory. Make a list of everything in your home that you need to or would like to change. This includes "must-do" repairs and replacements to maintain your home in good shape, as well as things that don't work well and things you would like to change. Finally, also note down what you really like about your home and wouldn't want to change; this can help you, and later your renovator, to focus on the assets of your home that you want to preserve. Consider each item. Describe each item on your list briefly in terms of your day-to-day living…

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Setting Your Goals - Your home renovation should provide you with improved function, comfort and convenience. The next step in the process is to set some general goals for your project - goals that address both the things you want to change in your home and the new features you want to add. Consider the day-to-day experience of living in your home. Then try to describe the vision you have for your renovation. Don't worry about the nuts and bolts involved in doing the actual work, concentrate on defining the end result. For instance, if your existing kitchen is a problem, describe how your dream kitchen would work. Perhaps it would read something like this: "I'll be able to cook a complete dinner without having to stop and clean up all the time. There's plenty of working space right near the stove and there's also a big area for setting out dishes and serving plates. Everything I need is close at hand, but not on the counter top-there are lots of drawers and cupboards for everything. And…

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Anticipated Future Needs - As your family changes, so do your needs and priorities in relation to your home. When you plan a renovation project, make sure your plan will suit both your present and future needs. Is your family situation is likely to change? For instance, will you need to make specific changes to your home to accommodate the arrival of a new child or an aging parent? Will stairs pose a problem? Do you need to include security features for someone with reduced mobility? Do you anticipate changing the use of any room in the future, for instance converting a bedroom to a home office? Do you have children who will require more space and privacy down the road? How long will you stay in your home? You should consider how long you plan to live in your home, as well as your long-term financial goals. While most renovations will increase the market value of your home, some projects will have a more positive impact than others. If you plan on living in your home for many years, the financial return on your…

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Developing Your Wish List and Priorities - Now that you have set goals for your project, it's time to look for ways to accomplish what you want. This next part of renovation planning can be the most fun and exciting. Developing a "Wish List" involves listing the specific features you would like to include in your renovation. You should also give some thought to the importance of each item. Is it something you absolutely need? Or is it something you would like to have, but not essential if your budget can't accommodate it? This stage of planning is all about exploring design and product ideas and learning as much as you can about what is available. Get out and see what others have done, what new products are available and what type of "look" is right for your family and home. Here are some ideas: Visit family, friends or neighbours and find out what they really like about their home, particularly if they have renovated recently. Look for design and home improvement magazines at your local newsstand or…

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The Design Process - A successful home renovation begins with good design. Whether you are remodelling the entire house, turning your basement into living space or updating your kitchen, the design of your renovation ultimately determines how satisfied you will be with the finished job. Getting expert assistance in the early planning stages is a definite advantage. Experienced renovators will work with you to explore designs that fit your home, lifestyle and budget. They will also advise you on the level of design assistance you might need, before you can get a firm cost estimate and the work can get underway. For a simple renovation project, you and the renovator may be able to work out the design details in the course of your conversations about the project. If your renovation is large or complex, the renovator may suggest that design be dealt with as a first and separate step of your project. A growing number of renovation companies have a designer on staff - part of a growing trend towards one-stop shopping.…

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