Best Time to Renovate

Epic before and after renovation photos of a Langley home

Want to renovate your home, but really have no idea where to start…

What you need to know…

The true starting place is identifying what you need in your home, as well as the things that you want. Needs are the things that you cannot live without. In a renovation they can be identified easily in the ways that your home simply isn’t working for you. For example, if every time you go into your kitchen cupboards you find yourself saying “I wish that these things were easier to reach” then you may identify functional kitchen cabinetry for improved storage as a need.

Needs are the things that the budget will go to first, then come want. Wants are the things that you dream of having, and they will really make your space enjoyable; like a spa bath ensuite or a temperature zoned wine fridge. It’s called a wish list for a reason, and you should make one ahead of beginning your home project plans because your team needs to know what your dreams are, in order to help you make them a reality. The simplest way to do this is to list the problems that you are having with your current space, as well as how you would like to live in your home. You don’t need to know the solutions, that is the design team’s job. What you need to be able to do is tell us what you like and want to keep, as well as what you don’t like and want to change.

Next you need to know that you can’t just do whatever you want… bummer? Not necessarily… a talented design team can generally suggest creative solution to achieve your needs and wants for your home inside of the allowable parameters. There are some rules and regulations that must be followed in order to obtain City approval of your plans and have a permit issued. These rules mostly have to do with structural considerations which, for the most part, are in place for your safety and protection; both for your family living in the home, and for the life of the house itself and in turn the safety of any future owners.

One of the most important things to know when you are setting out to renovate your home is how much money you want to spend. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to finishing a home, but what you have to spend and what makes sense to spend are two questions that you should know the answers to before you begin down the path to achieve your dream home.

Understanding the value and return of spending money on a renovation can be a hurdle to overcome; there are many factors such as the value of the existing home, its location and re-marketable value that may help you determine how much money it makes sense to put into a home renovation. If this is your forever home where you plan to live for the rest of your days it can make sense to put more money into it, transforming it into something you really love! If you plan to move in a few years, and this renovation is intended to increase your resale value, there will be a threshold you don’t want to exceed in order to get your renovation investment back out of the property. Either way, these are considerations you should factor in when deciding on a budget for your renovation.

The amount of money to spend on a renovation can be its biggest constraint. Not necessarily just in the way people think of – because the finishes you want are out of your budget – but also in does it make sense to spend this much renovating, or would it be more worthwhile to consider building a new home. And you don’t have to figure this out all by yourself, these are questions that an experienced design firm and renovation team can help you answer.  

We feel that this last point is probably the most important thing for you to know before you begin your renovation… that is the immense importance of proper planning. Having a renovation planned properly before beginning will save you time and money, ensure your space is functional as well as beautiful, and allow you to quantify and stick to your budget.

What you need to get started…

The first thing that you need to plan your renovation is your design documents. Detailed drawings and a specifications package will allow your project to be priced properly; this will allow you to be able to choose your builder and for your chosen builder to be able to build your house precisely as designed and efficiently saving you money… because time is money when it comes to construction labour.

Having the completed set of design documents allows you to get accurate estimates from the builders who you are considering for your project. Without these documents a builder can only give you a rough estimate, and that’s not a figure that you can rely on… think about it, how can someone tell you how much something will cost unless they know exactly what that something is? Detailed drawings and specifications outline exactly the materials and quantities that you chose with your designer – the builder needs these things in order to be able to put an accurate quote together for your renovation project budget. This is also the only way that you will know that you are comparing apples to apples when you request multiple builder quotes… and it is how you will hold your construction team accountable to building what was designed, so that you get what you really want!

So, you will also need to choose the right team to help you get started. An experienced designer who you trust to understand your vision for your home, to be able to create the documents necessary to communicate that vision to a renovator who you trust, to follow your plan and bring that vision to life!

The best time to renovate…

The best time to renovate is no sooner or later than when you are prepared to, with a great plan and your documents in place (not the answer you were expecting?) People often think that a certain season is the best time to renovate, for the weather, industry promotions, or builder availability, but the truth is that all these things can be worked around and fall secondary to having the knowledge of exactly what it is that you are doing and the plan in place to be able to communicate it.

Best timing is found in making sure that there is enough time to properly achieve the things that you want to do. The duration of a project is dependent on several factors; the size of the home and scope of the changes/additions, the level of detail, and the builder that you hire. Different builders work on different schedules. This can be due to the size of their team, the volume of other projects they have on the go, or their level of skill and experience with a project like yours.

Most reputable builders should be able to give you an idea of a realistic timeline based on previous projects they have completed similar to yours. They should also have a decent grasp on their workload to know if they will truly be able to keep your project on the schedule that they set out for it.

If you have a desired completion date, or a date you have to be moved back into the house by, you will need to work backwards to identify when to get started with your planning (hint: it’s usually earlier than you would think).

Finally, timing depends a LOT on YOU! Your ability to be decisive, and to stick to the decisions that you have made, will be what helps to keep your project on track. Clients who waffle on finishings or continue to shop around after their specifications package is completed will have more trouble getting their project completed in a timely manner. Changes to the completed plan can cause a ripple effect of adjustments that then must be made throughout and undermining the benefits of having that plan in the first place.

Spring is the time that everyone naturally starts to think about renovations, but here in Vancouver renovation season is really every season. Understanding how important the planning is, means that you can get started right away, and once you plan properly success in your renovation will come from making decisions, making them early, and sticking to the plan.

Tags: planning, renovation

What People Are Saying

Lawrence Green

"I was impressed not only by Sarah's design ability, but also with her level of construction knowledge. I have heard that a lot of designers are good at making things pretty, but are not that great at understanding how things are actually built- Sarah is fantastic at both. I recommend them to anyone and everyone I know without hesitation."

Diane and Vince Grdina

"We had the pleasure of working with Sarah on the construction of our new home. We had a lot of fun working with them and found them always thoughtful, mindful, and professional. We would highly recommend their firm and would use them again without hesitation."

Pete Rackow

"We were immediately impressed with Sarah's ability to assess our needs and understand the type of home my wife and I wanted for us and our 3 boys. Her attention to detail is flawless and every inch of our fully renovated home is thoroughly thought through. I felt like they cared about our home as much as we the homeowners did."