The Last Word

On the fence? Don't rush!

By Herb Lagois

There are many reasons to renovate. But what about those situations when you should wait or not do it at all?

Over the years I’ve encountered couples who purchased a home, have not lived in it, yet want to undertake – often – substantial renovations. This situation has always raised a caution flag: As a designer, am I actually able to solve problems they are not aware of? Are they going to be happy after they move in?

To help folks define family needs and problems, more often than not I find myself advising them to move in for a while before actually renovating.

I ask them how they would feel if they spent a lot of money renovating, moved in and then were frustrated that spaces didn’t work. I’m thinking of furniture placement, traffic flows, and an awkward kitchen layout, for example.

Naturally an experienced designer can help with functional layout provided they have life experience and, by asking the right questions, truly understand your needs. If you are a homeowner considering a change, you should really take time to make a list of things that bother you, things that don’t work and things you do like. (This applies to any type of renovation.) These are the things you should share with a designer right from the beginning.

Are you on the fence deciding whether to move or to renovate? Maybe a repair is better than taking on a complex renovation. Or you can consult a real estate agent to help you figure out where to invest in your home (if anywhere). A good real estate agent can also provide you with values for selling and buying elsewhere. Just keep in mind associated costs like closing and moving costs, however. For many, these are deciding factors for staying in place and renovating.

Before you renovate, if that’s what you decide, another good strategy is to consult a RenoMark® renovator who will provide you with an idea of what you might need to invest as well as the implications of renovating – for example, an undersized electrical panel, hazardous material, present building code requirements and more.

Tip: be open about this first step being a discovery phase. You will want to avoid unnecessary time and expense until you know it makes sense to renovate.

It might seem like a good idea to buy another property. But from what homeowners tell me, it’s hard to find something that fits their needs. Of course, there are many other factors to consider, too: stage of life, careers, family, neighbours, schools.

Don’t rush for the sake of rushing. First be as informed as you can possibly be.

Herb Lagois is the founder of Lagois Design-Build-Renovate.

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