The sky is the limit when it comes to home renovations and Canadians have no problem opening up their wallets to pay for upgrades. According to a recent Houzz study, the average Canadian homeowner spent $81,000 on home improvements last year—and those over the age of 55 actually spent more, easily reaching the six-figure mark.
It’s a lot of money to spend. So making smart decisions about where to put that dollar can really help. “A custom-porcelain sink that costs north of $10,000 will be beautiful in your bathroom, but it’s a really stupid thing to upgrade if you live in a one-bedroom condo,” says Toronto-area Bosley realtor, Sarah Daniels. “But cheap out—by installing out-of-the-box kitchen cabinets in a $2-million home—and you might as well burn your money,” she says. That’s true and I can say that from personal experience, having done a lot of small and large home renos myself. In fact, it was my own experience that was the driver behind this story, as my colleagues prompted me to share some of my tips, as well as those from experts we talk to at MoneySense. To make an upgrade successful—for you, your pocketbook and your home’s resale value—do your research. “The more time you spend on planning, the fewer surprises,” explains Mark Pervan, my reno partner, a residential general contractor and also my husband. Your research and planning will lead to a budget—and that’s key for any smart upgrade. And yet, almost a third of homeowners who took on reno projects last year didn’t set a budget and those that did set one went over it.
“The top budget busters are opting for more upscale products and materials or changing the project scope or design midway through the job,” says Liza Hauman, VP at Houzz, an online retail platform and referral community for home owners and reno specialists.
Find a balance between desires, budget and the impact on the resale value. “Pick upgrades that are relatively neutral then use bright colours and accents in paint and decor,” says Daniels. “It’s significantly cheaper to tone down personal decor than swap out all the kitchen cabinets when it comes time to sell.”