Any contractor, renovator or designer will tell you how stressful a renovation can be. It upsets your everyday functioning. It throws your household (and your life) into a spin. It rattles your nerves.

But there are ways to significantly minimize the stress in ways that will actually make your renovation calm, predictable, and fun.

It’s called doing your homework.

“A smooth renovation is all about organization and communication,” says Casey Grey of Cornelius Grey Construction, Inc. “The more details and selections you nail down before a project starts, the smoother it will go.”

Casey offers more tips:

  • There are always going to be unexpected things that arise during a renovation. The more organized a project is at the beginning, the more time you will have to solve unexpected situations − and as a result the less stressful the renovation will be.
  • Communication is essential. The contractor should be communicating with you every day, whether it is good or bad news − even if it is just to give an update about how the day went.
  • Choose a contractor you feel you can trust and have a good professional relationship with. Contractors should know they are not just working on another house, but working on somebody’s home and therefore should treat it with the utmost respect.

Roy Nandram of RND Construction agrees and offers his own advice before you take the plunge:

  • First, have some concept drawings made based on what you think you’d like. Discuss your overall plans in depth before you get into details and decisions. Take notes.
  • Pre-select your products. Come up with your best “wish list”.
  • After you have concept drawings or sketches and you’ve made a preliminary selection of products and finishes, ask a renovator for a preliminary estimate before you get too deep into the project.
  • Do lots of research. Understand as much about each renovation process as you can. For instance, when a wall comes out, what does that really mean? What elements of the building system might be affected? You will need to think about structure; about electrical and plumbing; about heating, ventilation and air-conditioning ducts as well as floor finishes.
  • Decide on a dollar value. How much do you realistically want to spend? Your estimate should include a buffer of at least 20 per cent. So if you think you’re willing to spend $100,000, put aside about $20,000 as your buffer for changes or unforeseen problems. Then, if you don’t need it, you can always use it to splurge on something for your new space.
  • Make sure your renovator is in good standing with GOHBA and registered with RenoMark™. (
  • Remember that some renovators are specialists in a certain type of work. Some are experts in bathrooms or kitchens or basements, for instance. Find out who these experts are – but make sure they’re RenoMark-registered.


“People get stressed,” says Casey Grey, “when they have to make a lot of decisions or a significant decision in a short period of time.”

So get ready. Get set. Research. Think. Make as many decisions beforehand as you can. Talk to others who have been through the same experience. Sleep on it. Know what you want, and be prepared to make compromises.

Then make that call to your favourite renovator.

And let the fun (not the stress) begin.