Making the most of your Renovation Budget

Spring is in the air, and with it thoughts turn to home improvement projects. From relatively simple projects like a fresh coat of paint or planting gardens to more ambitious plans like a kitchen or bath remodel.  When trying to decide which projects to tackle and whether the cost makes sense, here's a few tips to keep in mind.

WHY are you renovating?

Is this your forever home or a short term means to an end?  If you do not plan on living in the home for long and are looking to sell within the next few years to upsize, downsize or relocate then your focus should be on improvements that will add the most value without exceeding your costs.

If this home is one you plan on staying in for the next several years, personal comfort and enjoyment become more important considerations.  There really can't be a subjective value put on your own pleasure so whether an improvement brings you the same return in value isn't as important as the happiness factor it brings to the lives of you and your family.

Maintainance first, luxuries second...

Spending $30,000 on a spa-like master bath won't mean much to a prospective buyer if your basement smells musty because of water issues.  Make sure you have a budget and plan for necessary home maintenance items.  Keep track of the age of major items like your furnace, windows and roof so you know when you'll need to replace them and you can plan accordingly.

Planning for regular maintenance on your home helps to keep the bones strong and will help limit unexpected costs down the road.  Things like regular furnace maintenance and changing filters helps keep your unit operating as efficiently as possible and has the added benefit of helping to keep your heating and cooling costs down.

Curb Appeal

All the interior renovations don't mean a thing if one look at the outside of your home doesn't entice prospective buyers to come in and take a look.  Spending some time and a bit of cash to tidy up or plant gardens, fix cracked or broken steps and touch up exterior paint can go a long way to increasing the attractiveness of your home from the outside and make home shoppers interested enough to see what's on the inside.

Adding Living Space

Is your home the only one on the street with only one full bathroom?  Before putting money into an expensive kitchen remodel, consider adding a second  bathroom to your space to make it more comfortable and liveable for both you and prospective buyers.

Live in a family neighbourhood?  Think of finishing a basement to add recreation space for the teenagers to hang out (or the parents to escape).  As a mom of a 17 year old, we are often the house that my daughter's friends tend to hang out at because we have a fully finished basement with a smart tv, android box and surround sound.  I personally like knowing where she is, what she's doing and who she is hanging around with.

Kitchens and Baths

These will always be the big sellers when it comes to adding value to your home.  According to Scott McGillivray, "updating a kitchen is, and likely always will be, the best way to add value to a home. Kitchens are the heart of any house – they’re where families congregate, but they’re also where people work. As a result, making an investment in a kitchen that is functional, looks great and can accommodate your lifestyle will almost certainly pay off in the long run. Since trends tend to come and go, I highly recommend that you stick with classic designs and neutral colours."

There are some cost-effective ways to spruce up your bathroom without spending a fortune.  Some tips...

  • try and leave the plumbing where it is, having to move fixtures and pipes can add up to $5000.00 in costs to your reno
  • frame a builder mirror with some attractive painted moulding instead of buying a new, expensive one.
  • focus on the shower.  In today's busy world, not everyone has the time or inclination to soak in a tub (and if they do they probably do it in a hottub in their back yard), focus instead on big, bright walk in showers.
  • instead of replacing an entire toilet, consider changing out just the toiletseat and lid for a cleaner, fresher look.
  • Like garage sales or hitting up the antique malls?  Source out a new vanity from older dressers that can easily be retrofitted to hold a sink and plumbing.

There are so many choices to make when updating and renovating your home.  Having a budget and plan in place helps keep things on track from a project and spending point of view and as much as you want a perfect home, remind yourself that unless you have an unlimited budget, you will have to prioritize your projects and spread them out over time!

Brenda St Amand is a licensed Mortgage Agent in Barrie, ON.  Working with 11 others Agents and Brokers through Mortgage Sense Inc., she has access to over 30 different lenders and their product offerings.  As a financial professional for over twenty five years, Brenda is known for always putting her clients first and being flexible and understanding of their needs.