When a group of professional renovators were asked what design and
planning advice they most often give to their customers, here is what
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 a large landing into a child's play area, a quiet reading area or a
small home office.
Keep it simple. A complex design can result in
complicated and expensive construction. Whether you want to build on to
your home, change roof lines or reconfigure interior space, consult with
a professional renovator on the impact of design on construction and
budget. Less complex designs will often let you achieve the same goals.
Don't just focus on the upfront cost. Renovation is
a further investment in your home. Consider the time, energy and cost
required on ongoing maintenance and possible replacement down the road. A
well-planned renovation can reduce these future costs.
Don't cut corners to save a few dollars, or you may not get the results you want. There
may be ways to stretch a limited budget or you may be able to scale
down your project or alternatively, do it in phases over time. But don't
compromise on quality-it's always better to do less and do it well.
Check local bylaws. Before you get too involved in a
particular design for adding to or substantially altering your home,
you or your renovator need to know the local regulations-for instance,
lot-line setbacks or septic tank requirements.
Look at your neighbourhood. Exterior changes or
additions that blend with the existing streetscape will probably add the
most value to your home, and they will usually be appreciated the most
by your neighbours. If you do want a design with a difference, think
about ways of complementing neighbouring homes.
Don't worry about trends. Design trends come and
go. First and foremost, plan for comfort, ease of living and personal
satisfaction. Enjoy exploring options and possibilities-then design the
renovation that is uniquely right for you and your family.