Wearing my 11-year-old kid's socks today - notes from a home reno

How my home renovation took over my life - 9 tips to avoid it - from Toronto Mortgage Broker Ingrid McGaughey

How my home renovation took over my life

… or, notes from a crazy home renovation

I couldn’t find any of my own socks today.  I am in the midst of a home renovation – a home we’re currently living in, by the way – and everything is all over the place.  I went to the family room to locate my most of my clothes, the spare room to collect my laptop and files for the day, and the basement to find toiletries. Each of these forays into rooms required unzipping and rezipping those plastic zipper doors that one gets to (vainly) attempt to keep the dust from entering those rooms.  So when it came to the socks, I gave up.  The eleven-year-old’s were handy, so I grabbed them.

The renovation was accidental, kind of

We had been thinking of doing “something” to the kitchen for a while.  The last ten years or so, really.  But after a funny-looking beam in the kitchen ceiling prompted us to open up the walls and ceiling, we realized that the owners a few people before us had cut quite a few corners in their renovation.  We were horrified to find that a support beam was cantilevered out from one wall, electrical junction boxes (and wiring connected with duct tape!) were hidden behind others, and some funny-looking black stuff was creeping along near the powder room floor where a vapour barrier hadn’t been removed during the previous reno (I refuse to call it “mold”).  After a few panicked conversations with our contractor, we decided to buckle down and not only repair the problems, but also to do the improvements we’d been proctrastinating on.

Our renovations list

In the planning stages, the big thing we had to manage was “feature creep” – the tendency to say to ourselves, “Well, if we’re already repairing the floors in here, then we should probably tackle the floors in there, and then, what the heck, why not paint the walls and touch up the crown moulding and fix the stairs and railings too.”  And so on, and so on…  A few calculations on the back of a napkin had us pulling back from those in a hurry.  But what we were left with is still pretty significant: gutting the kitchen, powder room, leaky and dated ensuite bathroom, and basement office; replacing the floors everywhere on the main floor with new hardwood flooring, painting all the affected rooms, and a number of smaller things too numerous to list.

The surprises in a retrofit

What we knew we couldn’t prepare for was the little surprises that would pop up since we weren’t doing a tear-down of the house and starting with a clean slate.  Despite this, it was frustrating to realize that we couldn’t stick to the tight timelines we’d laid out initially.  Things like finding a crazy mess of pipes and severed floor joists under the white tile flooring in the ensuite bathroom, and water soaking the walls inside the basement office, meant that, if we wanted to do this right, we had to add several days of work to each stage of the project.  If you’re looking for instant gratification, doing a home renovation is NOT the way to get it!

Top 5 things to consider when doing a home renovation:

So here’s our list of the top 5 things we’ve learned in our reno:

1) Figure out your priorities

2) Include a “surprise” component within your budget

3) Hire really, really trustworthy contractors

4) Move out if you can

5) Keep your sense of humour

If you have suggestions from your experience going through a home renovation, I’d love to hear them!  And if you’re about to embark upon one, feel free to get in touch to discuss your financing options.

Photo credit: [c] icon ade for vecteezy.com

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