You’ve selected your contractor, you have a detailed renovation plan in place, permits have been obtained and the sledgehammers are ready to knock down walls, so now what?  Here’s what you can expect to face during your renovation and how to plan for it:

1) Dust and noise

No matter how hard you try to contain a renovation to an area of your home, you will inevitably find a layer of dust collecting within other rooms.  Zipwalls, closed doors, booties, etc. just aren’t enough to keep out drywall dust, debris from old popcorn ceilings, etc.  And that’s fine because this is just temporary and once the renovation is over, you’ll have a beautiful, clean home. 

Your house is an active construction site during a renovation so there will be lots of noise.  If you know that you aren’t going to be able to handle the constant sound of drills, hammers and saws, then you might need to consider moving out.  Depending on how big your renovation plans are, you might have to, as the livable space may not be enough for your family.

2) Surprises

You need to be prepared to handle the unexpected and there may be both good and bad surprises during your renovation.  You might be lucky and find a tin ceiling hidden by acoustic ceiling tiles or you could find a leaky pipe in your bathroom that’s eaten through the floor joists.  But don’t worry because your well-planned renovation will have included a bit of a contingency fund.  Depending on the age of your home what’s hidden behind the drywall may be a bit of an unknown so having some money designated for those surprises will give you the flexibility to handle them. 

Another way to help with certain surprises is to speak with your insurer.  You may require additional coverage during your renovation, as your contractor’s insurance will only cover job site accidents.  You’ll be responsible if your neighbour’s home or public property is damaged as a result of construction on your property.  A quick phone call to your insurer is all it takes to give you peace of mind.

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3) Delays

You might discover the tile you’ve ordered is stranded out East because of an ice storm or the pendants for your kitchen island are on back-order.  Whatever the scenario, you need to realize that there are a lot of moving parts in a renovation and timing isn’t always easy to manage.  Talk to your contractor or designer to understand how these types of delays may impact the length of your renovation.

4) Decisions

You will have hundreds of questions to answer no matter how thorough you planned your renovation.  How high do you want your showerhead? Where should the hardware on the cabinets be placed?  What type of edge do you want for your granite counters? Be prepared for questions and know that you may need to respond quickly in order to keep the project moving forward.

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5) Changes to your plan

Delays, surprises, decisions, etc. will all have an impact on your plan and possibly your budget.  Your contractor isn’t solely responsible for your renovation.  As the homeowner, you do need to play an active role in the renovation as it progresses and make sure you understand the stage of the project based on your plan. During your renovation, you and your contractor have a collaborative relationship and need to work together. If 50% of the renovation is complete and you’ve burned through 80% of the budget, discuss if that’s a problem?  If the cost of flooring was less than expected, can you now afford the lighting that was on your wish list or were there other unexpected costs?

Sometimes the changes to your plan will come from you.  As the reno progresses, you may decide you want some extra pot lights, more built-in storage, additional outlets, etc. Every request you make, no matter how little you think it might be, will have a ripple effect on your renovation.  So before you start filling out change orders, have a chat with your renovator/designer and ask what the impact will be from a cost and time perspective.

Once your renovation is over, there may be a few lingering matters.  Our next article will provide some insight on what to expect once the construction is done and you’re back in your home.