7 Steps to tackling the home renovation with small budget

We feature an orginal post by our guest contributor, Ania Trica from Trica Design Studio. Here is June 2017 post.

Last year my husband and I bought and undertook the renovation of a VERY old Toronto home.  Even though I have a design and construction background we couldn’t anticipate just how much work we would have to put into this renovation.  Even though the house looked nice… everything needed to be replaced, by everything I mean: new plumbing inside and outside of the house, waterproofing the basement, lowering the basement, new electrical in the entire home (the old electrical was knob and tube), new drywall (all the walls were plaster and lath), new floors, new insulation and new kitchens and bathrooms, EVERYWHERE!

There is a lot that I learned from this renovation and I would like to share a few of the lessons that I learned here.  Although I want to talk about every possible work I went through (great goal, but not possible),  but I want to give basic but essential lessons I learned about renovating on a budget.


1.  Educate yourself

Talk to people who have renovated, familiarize yourself with the costs involved with renovating, one thing I have noticed is that people become ambitious and want to renovate everything and then they get surprised by the high costs involved. If you are new to renovating, do not do what my husband and I did and attempt to renovate the entire house, you’ll run into many unexpected surprises and just stress yourself/yourselves out.

If I had to do it all over again (don’t think I want to anytime soon), I would either buy a home in a decent condition and renovate in stages, or buy a home to tear down and hire a construction company or builder to rebuild a new home.  However, in this blog post I will talk about scenario # one: renovating a home that is less than 50 years old and is in decent condition.

The reason why I say 50 years or less, is because there will be less things for you to fix; your “not so old home” probably has updated plumbing, electrical, drywall not plaster and lath walls and is also better insulated than a home that is 100 years old.


2.  Interview contractors

If you don’t have people you can talk to, a good way to educate yourself on how much things cost is by interviewing contractors and getting quotes; most contractors will give you a free estimate and you will see how much things cost.  Interview a few contractors and pick the one who makes you comfortable and offers you a good quote.  Remember, the lowest quote is not necessarily the best quote. (trust me on this one:) A good source for contractors is Home Stars Home Stars rates the trades so you will see how they rate compared to other trades, if they are legitimate, professional or have been around for a while.  Another great source for finding contrators would be renovantage.


3.  Create the Priority List  

Okay, so after you get a general sense of how much things cost, create a list of things that need updating.  It may be windows, doors, new paint, a kitchen, bath or both.  You now know how much updating your kitchen or bath, etc may cost, so prioritize what you would like done first and renovate in stages.  Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you, know that it will probably take longer than they say and that you will have to put up with dust, noise and construction workers for a few weeks.  Prepare yourself for this mentally, you will have a nice product once its all good and done.


4.  Paint can go a long way

Yes, this is true.  If you are tight on money and all you can afford is new paint, this will do a lot. You can update your home by painting your walls with neutral colours  and painting the trims a clean or soft white colour.  Avoid bright colours and if you stick to the neutral colour scheme you will be surprised as to how a good paint job will update the look of your home.


Source: http://www.gillesetboissier.com/Project.php?id=20

5.  Work with what you got

You don’t have to change it all.  Your house may have some cool features like a neat staircase, fireplace, a large window or comfortable layout.  Use the features your home already has and only replace that which truly needs it.  A good source of inspiration for this idea are Parisian interiors  .

Parisians renovate and style their interiors by leaving the existing interior architecture (all the crown moldings, floors and old fireplaces if there are any) and update by painting the entire interior white and creating a lux and modern style kitchen with slab doors and natural stone counter tops


Source: http://www.elle.fr -relooke-en-noir-et-blanc


6.  Don’t forget about the IKEA

Now I know many people associate IKEA with “cheap”, but if you are ambitious and creative, you can save a lot of money using this brand.  After you get over the frustration of using the “IKEA planning tools”  you can actually design and create a modern kitchen or bath for a lot less.

If you don’t like the finishes that IKEA offers you can reach out to companies like Allstyle who fabricate custom door fronts using IKEA base cabinets.  A fact you may not know is that many “custom” kitchen companies use the same type of materials for their base cabinets and hardware, so IKEA is actually not worse than these other high-end kitchen companies.

The big downside is that you will have to be in charge of your design and installation which can be pretty frustrating most of the time.  The IKEA option is not for everyone so be aware that although you save, you will have to install everything yourself or you may end up hiring a professional to help you install the base cabinets, cabinet doors and filler panels.


Source: http://www.mydomaine.com/ikea-kitchens/slide6


7.  It’s all about the details

A pet peeve of mine is dirty and in cohesive, non-matching trim in a home.  By cleaning and painting your trim or by replacing your trim to be one cohesive style you will elevate the look and style of your home.

Did I miss any other strategies?  Let me know if you have any other interior design topics you would like to know.  See you soon!

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