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Renovation Planning Tips from Bryan Baeumler

Construction Editor Bryan Baeumler tells you what you need to know to prepare for your renovations

If you’re planning to do some renovations this year, there are a few key things you will want to plan for early so you are prepared to begin your renovation once the warm weather arrives. One of the biggest mistakes I see homeowners make is not taking the time to plan ahead, and it can end up being a costly error in the long run.

Get a permit

First and foremost, don’t neglect to get a building permit from your local municipality for major projects like running new wires, building a raised deck or removing a structural wall. Sure, it can be a bit expensive and time-consuming to do surveys, have drawings made up and pull permits, but building codes are put in place for a reason. You don’t want to risk your family’s safety in order to save a bit of time and money.

Call a pro

Secondly, know when to call in a professional and when you can do a job yourself. This is important because for renovations that require an expert, you are going to want to do your due diligence and hire somebody trustworthy who you can rely on to do a good job. More often than not, inexperienced home-owners will attempt a job, only to call in a professional later to fix their mistakes. Not only could this result in you going over your budget, it could also take double the time you were hoping to spend on the project. Avoid this disaster all together, and hire a professional from the beginning.

Get a reference

To take that point one step further—take the time to hire the right tradesperson. I always advise homeowners to take the time and do a good amount of research before hiring anybody. Referrals from other satisfied homeowners are a great place to start. If you know somebody who was thrilled with their new bathroom, go check it out for yourself and if you like what you see, get the name of their contractor. Try and get a couple of names to scopeout, so once you make a final decision, you are sure you made the right one.

Draw up some plans

For big jobs like kitchen renovations, finishing your basement, or adding on a deck to your backyard, blue prints are an absolute must. People are often surprised how much thought and planning is required for things like cabinetry placement when redoing your kitchen or bathroom. That’s why I like to hire a designer to outline a visual plan of the space so you are happy with the layout before you begin construction. Some projects—like flooring installation, redoing your countertops, or tiling a shower—might not require blueprints, but for bigger projects be sure not to skip this step.

DIY Dos and Don’ts

What jobs you can do yourself and when to call a pro

Do:

Hang drywall yourself.

Don’t:

Do the mudding or taping, unless you’re experienced or willing to take the time to learn proper techniques.

Do:

Paint just about anything.

Don’t:

Do any electrical or plumbing work yourself.

Do:

Install simple, porcelain or stone tile backsplashes.

Don’t:

Install glass tile yourself.

Do:

Refinish a deck yourself.

Don’t:

Build a deck yourself.