Not all renovations are created equally. Depending on what the planned use of your property is my advice on what to purchase and how to spend your renovation dollars changes. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing the best approach for a successful renovation from property shopping to renovating. Before venturing out to look at a single property you need to research and assemble a solid team that will help navigate every step of the process. Here are the key players and how I suggest deciding who to work with.
Real Estate Agent –Don’t just hire your cousin or friend. Make sure you do your research and opt for an agent that knows the specific area and type of property you intend to buy. In Toronto prices on comparable homes can vary by 15% from one street to the next and you’re going to want an agent that knows how to work those variables in your favour.
Mortgage Broker – There are many financing options available especially for more unique needs like investment and income properties. A good broker will look at your needs, financial overview and shop around for the best rates, suggesting a combination of solutions that a traditional bank may not. DoYourOwnMortgage.com is a broker that has you start your application online yourself and then pays you for that initial legwork by giving you a portion of what would be their fee, no strings attached!
Contractor – If you know you’re going to be doing a renovation skip hiring a home inspector and instead bring the contractor. They offer a far more accurate and thorough assessment and may go as far as to prepare a complete quote compared to an inspector’s very broad assessment that still leaves you in the dark about the renovation investment required.
Designer – Like the contractor I suggest bringing a designer to review the house before purchasing. I’m asked to review and advise how I would approach a renovation and what is salvageable in the larger areas like kitchens and bathrooms even before homeowners make the purchase. This helps decide if it’s viable for the look, budget and timeline. Make sure you ask if your designer is able to produce and apply for building permits or if they are more decorators. You’ll need details plans stamped for submission and ideally one team can handle that and the material selections.
Engineers – If you plan on enlarging any windows or doors, or removing walls, especially those that run down the middle of the house you’ll likely require a structural engineer. Likewise if you plan on modifying the layout at all where you are either moving or adding new heat vents you’ll need to have a mechanical engineer prepare the drawings and you’ll need to get a permit. Waiting until mid process can hold up your permits and add thousands of dollars in fees and delays.
Licensed trades – If you’re doing a smaller renovation and opt to hire sub trades direct make sure your plumber and electrician are licensed. This is important for safety and warranties, but it also enables them to pull the required individual permits on your behalf.
About the Author: Melissa Davis is a celebrity designer, best known for her work on HGTV.