It’s officially been one year since we all started spending the majority of our time at home. It’s no wonder that those outdated kitchen cabinets, the dog pee stains on the carpet, the lack of office space, the scratches in the hardwood, the dents in the living room walls, and the lack of storage space, is all you can see when you look around your home, at the same walls, day-in and day-out.
If you want to remodel every square inch of your home, you’re not alone. How much longer can you possibly stare at the same four walls of inadequate space design?
But before you pull out the measuring tape, there are lots of things to consider before you start swinging the sledgehammer.
Most people want to start their renovation beautifying the living spaces – but it’s the non-pretty parts of your home that can lead to the biggest protection of your investment.
“Keeping up with home maintenance will go a long way to protecting your investment. So making sure the roof, the furnace and the water tank are working optimally, isn’t just important for re-sale, but saves you on monthly bills and ensures the life of your home while you’re living it,” says Kerri-lyn Holland of Holland and Associates.
“After that, we suggest starting with the kitchen, it is the heart of the home, especially if your cabinets are out of date, then move to the bathrooms and the basement,” says Holland.
Holland says more and more buyers are looking for all the extra square footage they can get. With COVID-19 changing the way people work – it isn’t always enough to have one office space.
“More and more in the last year, buyers are definitely expecting finished basements. If 2 people are working from home, each person needs an office space plus that separate space for kids to either play or do online school. So people are looking for a finished basement for added flex space.”
Whether you’re planning to renovate your own home, or you’re looking to purchase an investment property to renovate and sell, Holland suggests working with a realtor who understands risk versus reward.
“We’ve worked with many home buyers looking to flip an investment property. It can be very successful and profitable if thoughtfully done with the proper strategy and the right team who can run the numbers. You have to do your research, make sure you know the plan and the end value of the entire renovation. Ask the tough questions and get all the quotes upfront before you start,” says Holland.
Graeme Bell, Partner with Alair Edmonton, couldn’t agree more.
“Success is in the details,” says Bell, “if you’re planning on paper before executing in construction, there is a higher probability of minimizing risk and of your project having an increased success rate.”
Alair Edmonton has done numerous large renovations that include finished basements, remodeled bathrooms, kitchens and even larger scale renovations such as home additions and increased square footage.
Bell says planning for your full renovation upfront is key.
“You don’t want it to look like a renovation. You want, when someone walks through your home, for it to go unnoticed. It should look like it was planned. If it looks like it was renovated you won’t get that higher value you’re looking for, when you sell.”
Which begs the question, should you do a renovation all at once, or can you do a renovation room by room?
Bell says, “If you are planning to live through the renovation in your home, we strongly suggest doing it all at once. If it's a matter of being able to pay-as-you-go, and it's financially more palatable doing it room by room, then we recommend having the end-to-end renovation plan done upfront. Fundamentally, you want your home to have symmetry, so each room doesn’t look like it was designed in different decades. The style and design should be cohesive throughout, so we recommend purchasing your materials up front if that's an option for you financially.”
Materials come in and out of trend. You don’t want to get halfway through your renovation and then be unable to get more of the same flooring you need to finish the renovation. Bell recommends looking at the big picture, get all the materials you will need upfront and then scale back to bite sized pieces.
If you’re buying an investment property to renovate and flip, Bell says it is important to know how many times a home has been renovated previously.
“We’ve gotten into a home and realized there were three renovations done previously, and it was noticeable that nothing was lining up; even the structure was gone. We’ve unexpectedly had to bring in steel beams to carry the weight of the 2nd floor of a home, which previously had multiple renovations, was poorly planned and didn’t take proper engineering into account. There’s nothing worse than investing in a home, only to have to bring a home unexpectedly up to code and structure,” says Bell.
Holland says you won’t find previous renovation information on an MLS listing, but if you have an experienced realtor, they’ll know just from looking at a home, how often it was renovated over its lifetime.
“The materials and products in a home can tell you a lot about the decade a home or room was renovated,” says Holland. “A house tells its own story, with its 60’s lino or real hardwood, or maybe it has brass hardware and the dusty rose of the early 80’s, maybe it has 90’s cheap melamine cabinets, or tiger granite of the early 2000s. And it’s not just finishings that can date your home. The type of plumbing can give you a timeline as well, whether it has copper or pex plumbing or if it has the original 1960’s electrical panel in the basement with a sub panel that was added later. These are all clues to the life of a home,” says Holland.
But most importantly, Hollands says, if there are things in your home that would change how you feel about where you live, don’t wait till you’re ready to sell, to renovate.
“When we have a client getting their home ready to sell, we’ll often give them a list of improvements that would make selling easier, such as carpet and paint. 100 percent of the time they say, I wish I had renovated it sooner, so we could enjoy it.”
Getting your investment back when you sell is important, but enjoying your home, while you’re in it is everything!