How to Avoid a Home Renovation Disaster


Whether you’ve heard stories from friends and family, on the news or read about them online, we’ve all been exposed to the “nightmare renovation” plot. It all starts out great. A homeowner has a dream for the perfect home renovation that they can be happy with. But along the way, something goes terribly wrong and they are left with an unfinished kitchen, an unlivable living room or some other disaster that they need to fix.

How can you avoid that fate? Take a look at the six tips below and you’ll be well on your way to your dream home renovation.

Hire a contractor

Seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of homeowners with little to no experience in renovation chose to forgo hiring a professional contractor. Sure, you can go it alone, but be forewarned that the road to renovation without a professional will be paved with sleepless nights and a lot of stress. You need to be able to commit a lot of your time to your renovation aka all of your free time.

By hiring a professional contractor, you’re getting someone on your team who has years of experience who can anticipate any problems that may arise. They will also take on the role of scheduling all the other trades who will need to work on your home. Finally, and most importantly, they are there to help you achieve the renovation you’ve been dreaming of—they take on the responsibility for the final product and ensuring that you are happy with the end result.

Be sure to do your research when hiring a contractor—find out the 7 questions you should be asking before you hire a contractor.

Set a realistic budget

I’ve been talking about your “dream” renovation, and it really is great to dream! But there comes a time when you need to come back to reality—setting your budget is one of those times.

Only you can properly set your budget. You know what you want your renovation to accomplish and you know what you are willing and able to spend on it. Work with your contractor to get an estimate and before you get started, be sure you are comfortable with the quote. Remember, finding the least expensive contractor isn’t the best way to choose a contractor. Be sure to keep a contractor’s references and experience in mind when making your choice.


Communicate with your contractor

In every relationship, communication is key. The same is true for the contractor-client relationship—communication can make or break a renovation project. You need to make sure you and your contractor understand one another. You need to be on the same page, so put it on the page—get everything in writing.

You have a vision, and it is important that you don’t assume that your contractor understands everything you want from the get-go. If you get written confirmation from your contractor, you can ensure you are both working towards the same end result.  

You hired a professional for a reason so it is essential for you to be open and willing to listen to your contractor. They will be able to make suggestions and recommendations that are suited to you and your home and are based on years of experience.

Be prepared for things to change

With any large project, there are bound to be some unexpected bumps along the road. As a homeowner undertaking a home renovation, you need to be ready to roll with the punches. Your contractor may find issues that aren’t up to Ontario Building Code standards, older homes may have previously undiscovered issues and you may even be the one changing your mind along the road.

Changes during a project aren’t a deal breaker but if you are prepared for the unexpected, you’ll be more comfortable when something pops up.

Get all your permits ahead of time

Permits, permits, permits. Depending on where you live in the GTA and what your renovation plans are, there are different permits you will need to start your renovation. Most contractors will be able to help you determine which permits you need to apply for. But beware of any contractor who offers to save you money by not applying for permits.

Homeowners are the ones who will be held responsible for any renovation work being conducted without a permit. And if you are found to not have a permit you maybe face problems like heavy fines, a delay in the work schedule and even having to completely remove the renovation because of zoning infractions.

If you are renovating a condo, find out everything you need to know about condo permits and regulations.


Stay calm

A home renovation is likely going to take some time. During that time, your home and life will be turned upside down. Especially if you are still living in your home during your renovation, try not to sweat the small stuff, like dust and plaster messes or the sounds that inevitably come with a home renovation.

Instead, take a deep breath, get out of the house when you need to and remember why you are doing your renovation in the first place. While you may deal with a bit of stress during the process, it’s always worth it once you get to live in your newly renovated home!