Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The First! Focusing on Beginnings

Well, since this is the first Blog of what will hopefully be many for years to come (not to mention the first to help launch the best selling book, the magazine, and movie rights...possibly t-shirts, mugs, tape measures....), I guess I should say “Welcome”....so....WELCOME!!! Thank you for reading, enjoying, and not throwing anything until your finished. As being the first, I would like to start at the beginning of the journey for all home-owners taking the plunge to deciding on their renovation(s), and hiring a contractor/renovator (yes, there is a difference between the two, we’ll save that for a different rant...er...Blog).


Part 1 Focusing on Your Renovation


The first thing to do is focus on your needs. Let’s assume you’re renovating for you, and not to fix up to sell (that’s a whole different situation and future Blog). So you already know you want a new bathroom, for example, but what is it about the current bathroom that is not working for you? Is the tub too small? Too shallow? Wrong location? Does the bathroom need to be bigger? Two sinks or one? Etc. Those you will focus on first as they will be the priority. The next is what will be required for usability and for future-proofing (expanding the family, renovating in a desirable neighbourhood, future design considerations for other rooms are things you’ll want to think about). Just like the little graphic on the TV shows, write a list of what you need and what you want, and have that ready when meeting with potential contractors. Don’t think you’ll be able to answer all the questions yourself, and don’t get overwhelmed, as the right contractor for you will be one that can help you figure this out. Although I can’t tell you what you want, and in the end the decisions are yours, I always help to define the best decision, and keep you up to date on current trends, long lasting designs, and where to focus certain percentages of your budget. It’s important to have your potential client feel like they are the boss, as well as the student at the same time.


The second part of focusing is on your budget. This can get complicated depending on your situation, but let me try and keep it simple: are you looking for quality? Long lasting? Comes with a warranty longer than 2 years? Then please be prepared to spend some money. And I’ll be perfectly honest here: if you didn’t put a checkmark beside each of those 3 details, then don’t renovate, you’ll waste your effort, time, and your investment dollars. Keeping with the bathroom theme, a Powder Room will start at $3500-$4000 including materials. A Main Bath will start at $8500. These are starting points, for simple tear-outs and re-build, nothing structural. If you want high quality, long lasting, and full warranties this is where you’ll begin. Remember that bathrooms done well will be giving you at least 150% of your investment back, so a $10,000 Master Ensuite will increase your home value by $15,000. Not bad for an investment that takes 3-4 weeks.


What if you can’t afford it but REALLY want it? The easy answer is wait until you can afford it, and at risk of losing work, is the advice I usually give, as you will end up cutting things out of the budget that are expensive but necessary. However, there are options if you’re willing to take on a bit of credit. An example is taking a Line of Credit, normally offered around the 4% annual area. If you’re doing a $10,000 renovation, you will make $5000, well worth the 4% annual interest rate on the original investment.


The third part is focusing on your time: when is the right time for you? Do you have a vacation coming up? How available are you on a daily basis? Is it a major renovation? Need it done for holidays, a party? When is your contractor available? Will you need to have temporary accommodations? These will determine the best time for you as only you can answer these questions. However, if you’ve found the right contractor, generally you will be worked into his/her schedule, so you may not have a choice at risk of waiting too long and losing their time! I’ve lost potential contracts from people that wanted it done right away and I wasn’t available, as well as people that have said they would wait for me, and after warning it may be 4-6 months, still lost them over waiting too long.


Thanks for reading the first!!! Send me comments, questions, virtual high-fives, and smiles J


Next Blog: Part 2 - The Right Contractor

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