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Renovating your home

Second bathroom? Kitchen upgrade? In-law suite?

Whether your home is in great shape but you have new requirements, or it needs a serious facelift, a renovation is a great way to bring more of what you want to a space you already have. These steps will help guide you through the process.

Home improvements can be a wise investment, especially when you know what delivers the best value. Adding or updating bathrooms and kitchens top the list of greatest return for your renovation dollars. Other solid investments include upgrading interior design and flooring, new exterior siding or paint, a new roof, replacing an old furnace and creating extra living space from an unfinished area. Here are two tips to ensure you have enough money followed by a checklist to completing a successful renovation.

Decide how to finance your project.

For a smaller project you're doing yourself, you can simply use your credit card to purchase building materials and fixtures. Or for a more extensive reno, you could talk to your contractor and just buy the major fixtures and appliances. Many of our MasterCards™ offer extended warranty coverage which is great for these kinds of purchases. If your card has Choice Reward points, you can build up points to earn merchandise or a much-needed vacation. For example, a World Elite MasterCard offers two reward points for every dollar spent, so if you spend $10,000 you'll earn 20,000 points.

For bigger projects, such as a kitchen reno, a home equity line of credit can help finance it. If the market value of your home is $700,000 and the remaining mortgage is only $200,000, you can tap into $500,000 in equity – more than enough to cover most reno dreams. You'll benefit from affordable interest rates and flexible repayment options while having ongoing access to the cash you need.

If you're looking for a more disciplined way to repay the funds, short or long-term personal loans can provide reasonable interest rates and a structured repayment schedule. Your financial advisor can help you determine which option is best for your personal needs and your project. You can find other rebate and incentive information from BC Hydro and Fortis BC.

Cash in on renovation credits and grants.

It's a good idea to see if your renovation qualifies for a grant of some kind – you could save hundreds, even thousands on your project. There are several home renovation grants available from both the federal and provincial governments. Most involve making energy-efficient upgrades and qualifying often requires two energy audits – one before you renovate and one after. If you've never had an energy audit before, the BC Government will help subsidize the cost of your first one.

If you're renovating to accommodate an elderly parent who will be living with you, or are making the changes to help you stay in your home, the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit will pay a percentage for eligible safety precautions such as installing hand rails, walk-in or wheel in showers and widening passage doors. 

Follow these 10 steps as a guide to a successful renovation.

1. Assess the job realistically.

What is your objective? Does the area need improvements, repairs or a combination of both? Do you just want to update with flooring and paint or do you need to create more space? Think about a home inspection to assess the state of your home. You might have to change your plans. Before setting your sights on tearing out walls and adding rooms, consider how you'll live while the work is being done. Will you need to live elsewhere during the project?

2. Determine what you're capable of doing yourself.

Conduct research to understand exactly what's involved to complete your project, then list what you'll do and what to contract out. Be honest about your time and skills – not everyone can, or should, be a "do-it-yourselfer."

3. Understand necessary permits and inspections.

Generally, any changes to the structure or systems of your home will require a permit. Check with your municipality and double check with your contractor when they begin.

4. Establish a budget.

If you have a taste for marble, don't quote plain white ceramic tile. Spend time now to pick cabinets, flooring, paint colours and other details. Talk to people who have renovated and professionals to get realistic estimates. Keep in mind, renovations are never problem-free. Be prepared for surprises. Add a contingency amount (5-10% of the total) to take care of inevitable unexpected issues that crop up and last minute "extras."

5. Get your funding finalized.

If you need to finance the ongoing costs, sit down with your financial advisor and review your project. There are lots of ways to fund your renovation – large or small. And don't forget about your insurance coverage. If your improvements cost more than $10,000, your policy will need to be updated.

6. Find the help you need.

Will you need a designer, an architect, a trade contractor or a general contractor? Ask family, friends, co-workers, experts at home renovation centres, or check online to find the experts you need. Be sure you get references from anyone you plan to hire and visit their past projects. Choose someone you're confident will be around in the future and don't be lulled into the trap of helping someone "get started."

7. Get written quotes.

Read them, understand them and have someone familiar with the project check them. Get everything in writing – who will be doing what, what happens with mid-project changes , determine the timing of "draws" or payments. Remember, don't choose a contractor on price alone. You want quality, not necessarily the cheapest price. No matter what, don't pay the full amount until the job is done to your satisfaction.

8. Watch the work being done.

You may not be an expert, but you're entitled to daily updates and a good working relationship with the people you've placed your trust in. Ask questions, get right in there to take a look, know what's being done and why. If something doesn't seem right – ask. This includes the person doing the work and others. At the same time, be patient and respectful – these people are working on your home. The occasional appearance of coffee and donuts can go a long way to creating good will and a smoother working relationship.

9. Don't forget the finishing touches.

In home renovating, it's the details that complete the work. Have you ever been in a house that was new but didn't look "right"? If the finishing isn't done well, it takes away from the overall appearance. The craftsmanship on things like paint trim, baseboards, caulking and grout lines are what make a space come to life and truly look complete.

10. Sit back and enjoy a job well done!

Home renovation can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Take the time to enjoy what you've accomplished.

Renovating your home? Contact us or visit your nearest branch to find out how BlueShore Financial can help you finance your renovation.