If you have decided to build a new home or cottage, or renovate your existing home, there are a lot of considerations to make.This is especially true if you have never gone through the process before!
If you have decided to build a new home or cottage, or renovate your existing home, there is a lot to consider. Especially if you have never gone through the process before.
Building a new home or cottage or investing in a large renovation, is both a major financial and lifestyle decision. There are so many things to think about, from design and budget, to partners, timelines, and finishes. The list goes on and on and it can feel overwhelming very quickly. However, it doesn't need to.
Spotlight Home and Lifestyle can help you with several thought starters that you should consider before even beginning of your journey. So, gather your family around for the conversation. You will definitely want input from everyone who will be directly impacted by the planned changes to your living space.
There are key questions you should ask when planning a new build or renovation, and with a seemingly endless list of options and possibilities, discussing the following talking points will help provide you and your family members with a solid starting point.
Prioritize the different reasons that prompted you to want to make a change to your home or cottage. Are you tired of your current environment? Is the space too big or too small to fit your family’s needs? Have you come into some money and want to upgrade your lifestyle? Are circumstances such as retirement allowing more flexibility to live further away from a city center? Can you trade the urban cost of living for acreage out in the country? Ensure your motivation is powerful enough and makes sense before embarking on this huge life event.
Considering a loft above the garage or an in-law suite? How about a brand-new build with an extra 1,000+ square feet compared to your current home? Now is the time to think about how the space will be utilized down the road. Perhaps you have a full house at the moment, but the kids will be off to university in a few years. There could be an unused bedroom upstairs that can have its walls knocked out to provide space for your dream en suite and walk-in. Try to think ahead to ensure your design, renovate, or build project will make sense not only in the moment, but in the longer term.
You might dislike the direction the kitchen island faces in your home, or wish you had walk-out French doors from your master bedroom to a plant-filled patio outside. Perhaps your open concept living area allows too much noise to travel through the house, or the location of your teenager's room is too close to yours for sound and privacy needs. Whatever your dislikes are about your current layout, write them down to help with the design phase of your project.
Now is the time to think about what would really make your space an environment you would absolutely love to live in. What would make your life a lot easier? What changes would help the family function at a more optimal level? Don't leave anything out, no matter how "pie-in-the-sky" it seems. You can always cross some things off that list in the next section of our thought starters.
Have you always wanted a residential elevator? Is it more for the novelty or convenience of it, or for actual functionality for someone with limited mobility? Perhaps your own knees are getting a little more painful with age and you foresee stairs becoming a struggle in a few years. Maybe having twelve-foot ceilings and wall-to-wall windows would help bring nature into the home, offering you peace and tranquility. However, if the budget is not available, could you live with lower ceilings and compromise with a few over-sized bay windows instead? This part of the list should include all of your wishes, with a touch of reality aligned with your actual budget.
Budget is the reality check part of the process. It helps determine your limitations. HST needs to be included, which is 13 percent in Ontario. Always allow a buffer for changes and surprises. We have all seen renovation shows on television when something inevitably comes up during the build or renovation that requires additional funds. While the budget should be in line with what is contracted, it is always good to have a 10 percent margin for extra peace of mind.
A substantial amount of planning goes into a quality build or renovation. It might take over a month just to source a reputable contractor who you are comfortable partnering with, let alone physically starting the project. Be realistic with your timelines and scope of work. Will you have to move somewhere temporarily while the project is underway? Will weather play a role if building in the winter? Is your preferred contractor booked for projects before yours? All things to consider when planning the timing.
Define your top goals in priority sequence to help you plan and budget. Perhaps you’re thinking about an open floor plan, room to grow, or being more energy efficient. Prioritizing helps ensure your top wants are checked off. Anything else on the list can be viewed as a bonus, if budget allows, but it is important to hit your number one (and hopefully two and three) reasons you want to embark on the project in the first place.
Visualize how your new build or renovation will make your everyday life better. What quality will it add? Will you be happier with tranquil surroundings, more motivated with crisp and efficient design, or cozier with warm and inviting finishings? Idealizing how you want to feel in the space will help during the design process.
Bring your own ideas to the table. You might not be a professional designer, but you do have ideas that inspire you, and in turn can help inspire your design, renovate, or build partners to bring your dream to fruition.
This is one of the more critical areas of the journey - perhaps the most important part of embarking on a renovation or build project. That is why we have devoted the entire next section of this article to that question.
Forging a partnership with a professional, reliable and reputable company is critical in ensuring an enjoyable experience and great outcome. Ideally you want a contractor who will manage the entire process from design to completion — not just bits and pieces.
A few starting points for sourcing a contractor:
Building or renovating a home or cottage is a large financial investment. It is important to qualify a contractor to ensure you find the best fit for you, your family and your project. The following are key things to look for and ask during your initial contact with a contractor:
By the end of your initial contact, you should have a solid impression about whether you feel the contractor is going to be a good fit for your project. This process will help you narrow down your candidates to two or three potential partners. Below are some additional questions that should help narrow your selection even further:
If you have successfully gone through all of the above questions during the phone interview, you have likely been able to narrow down your selection to a front runner. Now it is time to take it to the next step and meet them in your home. This next meeting will help you determine if you feel comfortable with this person and have a good rapport with them.
Below are some things to look for in that meeting:
Once you are comfortable with the person and their style, it is time to start to discuss the project. This is where all of your homework pays off. Now you are well positioned to provide the contractor with a good sense of who you are and what you want.
Ensure you are both on the same page. The contractor should give a solid impression that they will meet your expectations and maintain open and ongoing communication. They should make you feel like you will be as much a part of the process as they are. After all, it is your vision they are bringing to life. They are professionals who should offer advice and guidance to you through your project's journey in true partnership.
If you would like more insights and tips about hiring a contractor for your design, renovate, or build project, download a copy of the How to Hire a Design, Renovate & Build Contractor guide.