Home Renovations: A personal journey and lessons learned

 3 rules that inevitably hold true for most home renovations:

  1. They will always take more time;

  2. They will likely go over budget; and,

  3. It will be frustrating at times.

I recently ventured into a renovation for my new condo (in an older building), and those lessons held true for me.  Whether you’re a trained Designer or a first-time renovator, it does not matter.  There will always be surprises.  Hiring a professional does help because they have their trusty trades to rely on and know they will get the job done right.

Home Renovation | PowHERhouseMy renovation involved demolishing existing slate flooring throughout, and pretty much a demo of everything except the kitchen and part of the bathroom.  The new portion of the renovation included:  all new closets, paint, baseboards, doors, flooring, new lighting, as well as baseboard heating throughout.

  • The most important task is to get approval from your strata or your city’s building department prior to starting your work.  Without this, you can very easily get fined or be forced to undo your renovations in the future.
  • The next item if you are managing the project on your own is to hire your contractor(s) and create a rough schedule.  Keep in mind that managing your own project is time consuming, and you will need to be available.
  • Read all contracts carefully and ensure both parties are aware of the full scope of the project.  Be sure to get quotes in writing and signed contracts when you can.  Ultimately, trust your gut.  If the cheapest bidder seems a little shady, then trust that instinct!
  • Call for references.  If you’re using a friends’ friend, still call for references! 

I hit a few bumps along the way.  My crew failed to level the floor enough and had to come back to level it again = more money and more time to dry, and this delayed my floor install.  Another bump happened when the self-leveler was poured; it leaked down through a teeny hole into the unit below and ran down the tenant’s wall and onto their carpet.  This was not a fun hiccup, but there will always be a few unexpected twists that your reno will undergo.  Just remember to pause in this moment, take a deep breath, and you’ll get through it (after a good cry of course!).

Home Renovation | PowHERhouseMy favourite parts of the renovation once it was complete are:

#1.  Closet organizer.  They make such a difference for storage management.

#2.  5”-high baseboards.  They are more expensive, but the height makes such a difference in the overall feel of the room.

#3.  Painting the ceilings.  The key is to try to do this when the space is empty.

#4.  Dimmer switches.  I cannot stress enough the valuable role dimmer switches can play in affecting your space at different times of the day.  They are a fairly inexpensive way to make a big impact on your home environment.

Home Renovation | PowHERhouse#5.  Laminate Flooring.  I decided to go with laminate floors in the end – a good quality laminate, and I am thrilled with the look.  Laminate has come a long way.  I decided to spend less on the floor so that I could redo the bathroom at the same time, and that was a great choice for me.

#6.  Feature walls.  In the past I have not been bold in my colour choices.  This time I went for it with a teal feature wall in the dining room and den and a navy wall in the bedroom.  I do not regret that decision.  The bright walls create an energy in the rooms that really warms my new home.

My personal experiences in home renovations were at times frustrating.  I did go a little over-budget, and the timeline worked out with some schedule changes along the way due to some shifting and overlapping in the trades as necessary, but in the end it was all worth it.  I am thrilled with the changes.

The key to a happy home renovation and to keep your sanity during it all is to have realistic expectations, and by that I mean to expect the unexpected!

“Living through a renovation is like living in the wild… you do anything you need to survive!”  Author unknown.

Home Renovation | PowHERhouse

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