1. Do your research
Being well informed about things such as the materials available, various installation techniques, designs, features, and risks helps not only to limit surprises along the way, but also to complete a project that meets expectations.
2. Wait to have a clear vision of what you want
Hardwood or vinyl flooring? Brass or matte black hardware? Double or single vanity? Before getting started, look at a lot of inspirational images to get a good idea of what you want... and what you don’t. While some changes can be accommodated along the way, others may be very expensive or even impossible for the project.
3. Make sure that you’re on the same page as your spouse before you start
To make the project sustainable and to avoid friction, make sure the whole household is on the same page before you get started.
4. Take correct measurements
Taking measurements is not only something anyone can do, it’s also essential. During the planning and budgeting stage, take all measurements accurately and precisely so that there are no surprises when purchasing materials and no problems when the work is being carried out.
5. Take the time to see the materials in person
Nothing compares to touching a material to know if we like it and its texture and to visualize the finished project.
6. Buy all materials before you start
…but keep all your invoices, just in case!
7. Make a budget and a timeline
Take the time to prepare a detailed budget that includes everything: expenses related to materials, labour, permits, etc. Then, add 15% to cover contingencies.
8. Make lists so you don’t forget a thing
To-do lists help prevent forgetfulness. Plus, checking off the boxes is so satisfying!
9. Choose your contractors carefully
Every contractor will tell you they’re the best, so how do you choose? We recommend that you conduct checks (e.g., licence, complaints, and testimonials from former clients) to protect yourself. It is always beneficial to take the time to look at a number of service providers and compare them before making your choice.
10. Insist on detailed, written contracts
To avoid any surprises or misunderstandings, always make sure to have a written contract that properly details the work to be done and the materials to be used.
11. Check for asbestos and mould
During home improvement projects, you can come into contact with very hazardous materials without realizing it:
- Asbestos: fibrous minerals found in many old materials (e.g., pipes, insulation, plaster, and wall finishes) that can cause serious respiratory problems a number of years after exposure.
- Mould: especially present in damp areas such as bathrooms, powder rooms, laundry rooms, and basements, it can affect air quality, human health, and the lifespan of materials.
When in doubt, call in professionals before starting the work.
12. Make sure you have all necessary permits
Even on private property, permits for activities such as building, excavating, or remodelling may be required. Be sure to check with your municipality before you start!
13. Notify neighbours
If you expect to make noise during construction, consider notifying your neighbours to ensure that you’ll have a good relationship with them for years to come.
14. Expect the unexpected
You never know what is hidden under the floor of your bathroom or between the walls separating the rooms. You may find unsafe materials, discover non-compliance, and even realize that your original plan is not realistic. Be ready!
15. Be open to change
…without changing everything as you go!
16. Watch the weather forecast
Bad weather (or even a heat wave) can make some work very difficult, especially outdoor work. Keeping an eye on the weather will help you avoid unpleasant surprises and plan well.
17. Respect your budget
Always keep your budget in mind. If unexpected events keep happening, be prepared to make choices or sacrifices.
18. Be aware of your limits
Help reduce stress and avoid trouble by respecting your limits (when it comes to time and money) and keeping your skill level and experience in mind.
19. Don’t take risks
Many projects and techniques are accessible to everyone. However, taking risks can result in unexpected expenses, incidents, or injuries. When in doubt, always call a qualified professional.
20. Take the stress factor into account
In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, renovation projects are often messy and noisy. To avoid disruption, some people choose to rent a home or stay with relatives. Think about it!
21. Plan ahead for outages
All home improvement projects are associated with outages (e.g., electricity and water), so make sure you plan accordingly!
22. Adequately protect the rest of the house from the construction work
Prepare yourself mentally: the entire home will likely become a real construction site. I recommend that you protect the floor of the entrance and any area that will be affected by the work. Cover your furniture well and remove any decorative objects or frames that could be damaged by vibrations or comings and goings.
23. Protect children and pets
Never allow small children or animals to enter the work area. In addition to dust and small materials (e.g., nails and washers), building supplies and tools can be hazardous.
24. Make sure you have the right protective equipment
Always keep safety in mind and make sure to wear the proper protective equipment:
- Safety boots: risk of foot injuries
- Safety goggles: risk of projection of objects, particles or liquids that can damage eyes (e.g., electrical work, welding, and use of a saw)
- Gloves: hand injury risks, chemical or biological hazards, physical or thermal hazards, electrical and electrostatic hazards, etc.
- Hard hat: risk of head injuries; work at a construction site
- Hearing protection: risks associated with noise (prolonged use of a drill or saw)
25. Set aside time for other tasks
Don’t underestimate the time you’ll spend cleaning, visiting your local ecocentre, and running unexpected errands.
I hope you found this helpful and good luck with your renovations.
You are welcome to contact me for any advice before you start your renovation and when you are done, feel free to have me come over and give you an updated home evaluation to find out how much your property value has increased after you have completed your renovation!