The Last Word


Look out! There’s a lot to consider


“We’re thinking of renovating. What do we need to look out for?”

It’s a question I’m often asked.

And there’s a lot to look out for.

First of all, I say, look out for great design. Every successful project starts there. Whether your designer is an architect, technologist, interior designer or design/build firm, it must be someone who has the expertise and the experience as it relates to your project – someone who truly understands your wishes and needs.

I answer, look out for protection by getting all required permits.

I answer, look out for finances, for how much you’ll be investing in your home. Once construction starts, you’re committed!

I answer, ask renovators how they prevent cost over-runs. Square footage calculations may give you an idea, but what does that calculation really include? What if septic needs upgrading? What if the furnace needs to be replaced? What about the roof? Is the basement finished? Is there a basement?

I answer, look out for professional renovators. RenoMark™ renovators will guide you through the entire process – including investment – safely and efficiently.

I answer, look out for paperwork. Get everything in writing. And you need to understand what you are getting. For instance, “hardwood floor” is vague. Does that mean oak or maple? Stained or natural? Glossy or matte? Site-finished or pre-finished? Straight or 45 degree angle?

Ask questions, I say. And keep asking.

I answer, look out for designated substances. Did you know that homeowners are legally obligated to provide contractors with a designated substance survey? This is another area where professional RenoMark™ renovators will guide you. Ask renovators at what point in the process this designated survey is done. One of your goals should be to avoid surprises.

I answer, look out for insurance – and it’s okay to ask for proof. Ask renovators to explain their safety policy, how they handle sub-trade insurance and WSIB clearance certificates.

I answer, look out for investment value, to contact your insurance provider and explain your project. Say, for example, your home is struck by lightning a week before completion. You’ve invested a lot of money. But what if your home is insured for its pre-renovation value?


I answer, look out for time commitment. Renovators have many approaches to construction. Get an understanding from your renovators about how they operate. Do they have time to deal with phone calls or meetings every day? Do they suddenly call to say, “The tile guy is coming tomorrow; did you pick out the tile?” Renovators who have all selections complete and site meetings structured are renovators who provide peace of mind.

I answer, look out for unreasonable requests for deposits, especially if you’re asked for 100 percent down. There is little recourse if the individual or company skips town.

I answer, look out for cash deals. Consider the risk to you and your family if the individual does not have insurance. Is there proof if something goes wrong?

Finally, I say, look out for enjoyment: for the excitement of design. For the enjoyment of selecting all the finishes. For the enjoyment of investment. For the thrill when construction begins.

Those are my suggestions, based on years of experience.

I hope they help you to look out for all the important things that will allow you the enjoyment of your new space.


Herb Lagois is the owner of Lagois Design−Build−Renovate.