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The Cost of NOT Doing Renos By the Book

2 June 2013

Get it done as fast as possible, and for as little money as you can possibly fork over. These are the two biggest goals you have when embarking on renovations, right? For many homeowners unfortunately, they are. The project just needs to get done quickly so you can start realizing all that extra value now tacked onto your home, and with just a small dent in your personal finances. But if you take the routes necessary to get the cheapest reno done in the fastest amount of time, the chances are good that you’ll be the one sorry in the end. Here are some shortcuts many homeowners try to take, and why you should never consider them.

Hiring your neighbour. Or friend. Or anyone who has a hammer.

If you’ve ever watched even one episode of Holmes on Homes you know what this one is about. Just because someone has painted their living room before or even changed a faucet in their own home, it does not mean that they are a licensed contractor. Make sure that you find a licensed contractor who has a lot of experience in the work that you need done. You’ll greatly increase your chances of actually getting that new kitchen or bath you envisioned, instead of one that’s filled with cracks and compromises you had to make along the way.

Going on license alone.

Just because someone is legally authorized to operate a motorized vehicle doesn’t make them a good driver, and the same goes for renovation contractors. Someone could have received all the education that they need to be a contractor but still in the end, just simply not be good at their job. Avoid running into this problem by thoroughly researching any contractor you consider hiring for the job. Ask for references. Read online reviews. Go to your neighbours and ask for their opinion. Do whatever you have to do to make sure this is the guy (or of course, girl.)

Paying in cash.

Ah, the beauty of cash. By just forking over a couple hundred (or thousand) dollars you’ll avoid that dreaded HST and save so much money on your renos! But remember, paying by cash isn’t just a beauty for you, it’s also a beautiful thing for the contractor. That’s because when you pay by cash, there’s usually a verbal agreement that precedes it; and there’s no saying that the contractor has to live up to that verbal agreement. Sure if they don’t do the job you can still try to take them to court to get your money back, but what real evidence do you  have that they ever said they would do it in the first place? With no written contract you won’t have anything to fall back on. And if you’ve paid in cash, especially if you’ve forgone getting a receipt, you don’t have any proof that you’ve paid them either. And all of that together could spell big trouble for you and your home.

Not getting permits.

Yes, it’s a giant pain to have to go down to City Hall, wait in those hot stuffy little rooms, and then pay even more money to get a permit for work to be done on your home. But pay attention, especially if you’re going to be selling your home any time soon and are counting on those renos to add the value you’re looking to get back. Just about any home renovation will need a permit, especially if it’s major or if you’re making changes to the exterior of the home. If you don’t have one and the city finds out, you could be ordered to take down any or all of that work that was done without a permit. Not only will you have paid all that money to get it done for nothing, but your home could actually look much worse than it did before the renos started.

Not knowing of benefits available.

Did you know that the government actually wants to help you renovate your home? It’s true! That’s why they’ve created all kinds of benefits for homeowners that are doing just that. Whether you’re making improvements to have a greener, more environmentally-friendly home, or you’re making improvements to make the space more inhabitable for elderly or disabled persons, the federal government has tons of benefits that you can apply for and that will give you rebates on your renos. The Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit is just one that we’ve talked about on this blog before, but there are many more.

Don’t get caught in the trap of doing just about anything to save money on your home renovations. While of course you want to get as much value back for as little as possible, remember that things still need to be done by the book. And in fact sometimes, that’s the only way to save money. Shortcuts are nice, and many are possible when it comes to home renos. Just know which ones you can take, and which ones to avoid so that in the end, you can look at that reno project with joy, and not regret.

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