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5 Expert Home Renovating Tips

If you're like most couples, the thought of renovating your home evokes feelings of excitement and dread. Reveries of how your beloved home will look after the transformation are quickly quelled by thoughts of nightmare contractors, hidden expenses and arguments with your partner over which granite countertops to install in the kitchen.

Fear not, brave renovators. Here, Toronto real estate investor Mitch Parker gives us the 4-1-1 on getting the reno job done.

1. Ready, Aim, Fire!
Successful renovations are well thought out and planned before the first hammer swings and the drywall starts flying. Properly planning your project is vital to a high quality finished product and doing it within budget. Figure out what part of the home you want to renovate and how much you have to spend. If you’re stuck for ideas, try looking through design magazines, renovation books, watching design shows and taking trips to your local hardware stores.

2. Don't Over-Renovate
Once you determine where the renovation will be, head to a few local open houses over a weekend or two. Take note of the quality of finishings in the homes that compare best to your space. Installing custom oak cabinets, granite countertops, and a six-burner chef oven may look great, but if every other house in the neighborhood has the basics, you may be over-improving and won't maximize the return on your dollars spent.

3. Money Well Spent
Historically, painting yields the highest return for money you put into your home. It's not expensive and can make a massive difference to the look of any room. Returns can be anywhere from 100-300%. Kitchens are next, bringing in roughly 75-120% of every dollar spent. Bathrooms are very close to this range as well if done correctly. Finishing unused space (such as a basement), upgrading your yard with a deck and replacing old doors and windows are also great ideas. Just remember the tip above and don't over-improve the property.

4. Expect The Unexpected
The larger the project, the more chances that you may discover things that need fixing once you begin. Electrical hidden behind a wall, a poor patch job to fix a plumbing issue or other unplanned issues may come up. Include a 10% cushion in your overall budget to make sure you have enough to cover any surprises. If everything goes to plan, you have the extra money left over; but if surprises do happen, at least you'll be ready.

5. Hiring a Contractor
There's no shortage of contractors available to help turn your plan from a blueprint into a reality. Make sure you get at least three different quotes and ask for references from each company. Any reputable contractor will have satisfied clients that won't mind putting in a good word or, better yet, showing you some of the work that was done. Tell the contractor your ideas and budget and ask if you're overlooking any details that are important. If you need permits for the work, find out if they are included in the price. Last but not least: Don't pay for the whole job up front and ask for a timeline for the work so that you know if it's on track. Arrange for the final payment (at least 25% of the total) to be payable once the job is complete and you are satisfied with the work according to the quote provided at the start.

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