Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | February 2, 2010

Are You Planning on Renovating?

The web defines renovation with the following results:

Definition: “Renovat”e

  1. To restore to an earlier condition
  2. To impart new vigor to; revive

Definition: “Renovation”

  1. Any renovations made to a property are treated as capital improvements and are therefore added to the market value of a property.

Whenever a client asks us to review their renovation plans before actually starting them, we are extremely grateful. The statement expressed in the second definition above has to be viewed as a goal but not necessarily a given.

We would hope that our client would also have consulted a design expert and a building contractor (where desirable) in deciding on the goals and best approach to the renovation. In other words the more professional input you have at the front end, the greater the probability of financial success.

The architect or designer can make the best use of existing structure and will visualize the outcome with you to make sure it meets your needs. The building contractor brings the cost overviews and various ways to economically approach the task. They will also include sub trades to offer quotes. It is important to remember that not all homes are renovation candidates. If the home has no redeeming features it is best to start fresh.

If you are intending to sell after renovations, the real estate professional can offer volumes of experience on what will and will not sell. The advice can encompass everything from comment on floor plans, current hot items (such as smart home features, media rooms or wine cellars), and the type of target market you would attract.

Should the client initially approach me and ask me to help decide which areas are going to bring the best return on their renovating budget, I usually make the following suggestions:

In my opinion, the number one area to address is the front door and entry.

This is the first introduction of the home to the buyer and it is from this point that they begin to formulate their subconscious balance sheet of pros and cons. It is best to have them appreciate the home from the moment they enter. The return on landscaping is also greatest at the entry level.

The next two equally strong areas for return on investment would be the improvement of the kitchens and the baths. As our homes today have become even more of a retreat from the hectic pace of the world, the kitchen and baths have become lifestyle statements. Efficiency of design and efficiency of energy have been growing as priorities for today’s buyers. Clients today are aware of energy efficient appliances and water efficient bathroom fixtures and the government grants that are available for each. The at-home spa is definitely here to stay.

Flooring materials and paint can make or break a sale, as strange as that seems. If a flooring choice is not suitable to the client, they fear the cost of replacement. They look for durable floor coverings as well. Ten years ago, buyers would not have been concerned with the fact that Bamboo is a “green” flooring choice.

If the paint color is too bold or dramatic, they do not always think “Oh well it is just paint”. Unless they can visualize a new look, the wrong color may not create a feeling of acceptance but rather rejection for many buyers the instant they enter the home. The interior designer will assist you with those choices.

As in all things in life, planning is everything! A well planned renovation should flow smoothly and not leave a family in stress and tension for months. One client recently said that after a very costly, over budget renovation that she just should have taken the three quotes from trades and added them all together! Building costs have been rising over these past five years at an unbelievable rate. You have to think of a budget cushion going in, plus a sense of patience and a plan for delays.

I do believe however, there is no greater sense of satisfaction than a successful renovation. Ideally you keep the best and enhance the rest!

If you wish a comprehensive collection of home renovation information, visit This informative site is sponsored by CHBA, CMHC, Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency and The Government of Canada Climate Change.


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