Continuing from Part I which focussed more on renovations, there are several misconceptions about renovations and rebuilds that often lead homeowners to make bad assumptions, causing them to end up in uncomfortable places. Remember, your home is as much about living your life today as it is about a financial asset that helps you pursue future dreams. Learn how to identify and avoid these assumptions to keep it all on track!
Here are five more, some of which were discussed at the recent Homeowner Meet-Up hosted by KAAV LIVING.
6. I can make any project work within my budget by controlling construction costs with my decisions.
Yes, you can choose big box kitchen cabinets over custom millwork to save money. However, with major renovations and rebuilds there is a baseline cost per square foot that you must make sure you can afford before you tackle one of these projects. If your budget doesn’t cover these basic amounts – not to mention the other required expenses – controlling costs through decision-making will not help. You’ll be forced to compromise on quality, choose cheaper or even unqualified labour, forego parts of the original plan. All of this leads to extra costs to correct ‘money-saving’ decisions, or an outcome that frustrates you. A realistic budget is key to a successful project.
7. If we work hard we can complete our project in less time than professionals advise.
Major renovations and rebuilds are complicated, multidisciplinary affairs. In addition to requiring city approvals, they involve the coordination of many different professionals, often in a particular sequence. Some steps cannot be accelerated through hard work. For example, city approval processes require time, not all trades are available when required, and sometimes there can be issues with materials. Experienced construction professionals know things about renovations and rebuilds the average homeowner does not, and base project completion dates on these factors. Read a bit more about timelines.
8. I’ve hired a contractor and an architect so my involvement will be limited.
While good general contractors and architects who work well together are important parts of your major renovation/rebuild team (a key to success), they do not eliminate your role as homeowner and master coordinator. You are the person who has to develop and fulfil financial plans, sign legal documents, hire other appropriate professionals, decide and articulate what you need in a home, make decisions throughout, etc. You also want to review the work along the way to make sure it meets appropriate expectations. Make sure your perspective is heard; you are the person who is paying for the project and will live with it once it is complete.
9. Housing professionals will tell me if my older home is not a good renovation candidate.
Most homeowners lack the knowledge to assess whether an older home is worth renovating. Many don’t even consider this. All they know is many of their friends and family have renovated similar homes. So, they rely on the experience of professionals, and assume they’ll be told if what they want is a bad idea. Unfortunately, some professionals are not experienced enough to comment. Others are too polite to say your tired old house is not worth saving, or isn’t well-suited to being transformed into the dream home you envision. Feel free to ask them outright if they see any problems with your idea or whether there may be better value options. Better yet, get educated enough to ask specific questions.
10. I have to work with what I have.
Many homeowners feel they should preserve their charming older urban home or work with an existing structure. But, preserving that old house can mean taking big risks for something that may not be financially worth renovating (e.g., when the value is in the land, not the structure). Working with the existing structure also limits the changes you can make to your home. It might be worth waiting for a better opportunity or to save more money for a project that will really meet your needs. If the house is detached it can likely be torn down and rebuilt. If you are already considering a major reno, rebuilding is not as out-of-reach as you might think, and often has much greater value with much less risk. I know, I went down the renovation path and changed my mind.
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