Plan well. Be patient. Renovating a home during a pandemic By: greening homes

April 28, 2021
Planning a Renovation

Planning is everything. This was true before the pandemic and is very much so now. When it comes to renovating your home, planning begins with fully aligning your project’s scope with your budget.

Why is this so important? According to a 2019 CIBC Home Renovations Poll, 39 percent of home renovations went over budget. I often hear of projects going over by 30 percent or more. For a $100,000 project, that’s $30,000! Of the homeowners surveyed in the CIBC poll, only 32 percent had a detailed budget.

Ironically, homeowners typically resist upfront detailing because it takes time and subsequently requires a little upfront cost to do it right. Typically, a proper estimation of a full house gut and addition, with plans and specifications, takes 30 to 50 hours to complete.

The time and effort is worth it. At Greening Homes, our end project costs are almost exclusively plus or minus 10 percent from our initial estimate – well within the recommended minimum contingency of 20 percent for renovations of older homes. A little upfront time and money can save you considerable money in the long run.

In the old days (pre-pandemic) there was an expectation for contractors to visit a home to draft a proposal most often based on very limited information. The primary benefit of these visits was ascertaining rapport. A visit to the contractor’s office was an excellent alternative to learn more about the company – its team and credentials.

Today, phone calls and video conferencing – including online real-time home tours – serve as an initial point of contact and will likely become a mainstay.

The real work of planning and budgeting begins with the homeowner’s prioritized scope list, which separates the must-haves from the want-to-haves, and a budget figure with which they are comfortable, including 10 to 20 percent for contingency. For home renovations, I always recommend consulting a builder during the design process. You want to avoid literally returning to the drawing board if your budget does not live up to your plan’s scope.

This planning of course is all the more critical during the pandemic which has impacted everything from staffing to supply chains. Every time the schools close, single parent staff and tradespeople are impacted. When the infection rate rises in Toronto, staff and tradespeople in the city’s outskirts limit travel to the city. And of course, pandemic protocols regulate tradespeople to one-at-a-time at the job site, which extends the project’s timeframe, which adds to costs.

In addition to the cost of materials and general contract price, homeowners must now contend with inflation. The price of lumber alone has increased threefold in the last year. In providing quotes, it’s now not uncommon for subtrades and suppliers to include a three day acceptance period to protect them from inflation. There have been supply chain issues as well, which leads to delays.

My advice to those of you planning (or in) a home renovation: don’t over-extend your budget; set aside more money for contingencies; and don’t rush without due process. And above all, be patient!