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What are the 5 Things to Know About Your First DIY Home Renovation?

The 5 Realities of Doing Your First DIY Home Renovation |

The Things You Never Thought About Before Doing Your First DIY Home Renovation

The advent and runaway popularity of huge franchises like Property Brothers, Holmes on Homes, and Love it or List It has created an entire generation of home renovation armchair quarterbacks. Most people seem to understand the fundamental premise that reality TV is never authentic. In essence, it is a packaged and contrived television production designed to engage viewers first and foremost, rather than authentically depict an event or scenario. Well, I’m here to tell you (brace yourselves), all of the DIY home renovation shows are no different.

In fact, all of these shows should start with a declaimer to advise anyone considering a do-it-yourself home renovation, to think long and hard before spending their hard-earned dollars. The reality is, it’s a project that could become one of the most stressful and difficult undertakings of their lives. And in no way am I exaggerating or being overdramatic. Take a look at why…


5 Realities of a DIY Home Renovation

Below is a list of some of the things you should consider in advance before it’s too late. You might find yourself knee deep in drywall…and debt.


1. It’s not going to be fun.  

While at first, the idea of renovating might sound fun and exhilarating, in time it’s going to be overwhelming. When you stroll into your first tile store, you will discover the tiles you like are the most expensive ones they have. Or, the lead time is three months from now and when they finally arrive, they are damaged or incorrect. Expect that anything that can go wrong, will. And, because everything is interrelated, a plumber being sick or an order delay could set you back weeks, on top of thousands of dollars. When it comes to renovating, time is money. You can expect delays (and lots of them), which leads me into my next point.


2. It’s not going to be on a budget or on time. Think contingencies, and then some.

I have yet to meet anyone renovating their property or new home that have met their initial budgets on completion. It just doesn’t happen. There are so many unexpected issues and in turn, decisions that need to be made on the fly. You need to be realistic from the outset. If you are a first-time renovator, then I can guarantee there are many things you are not thinking about when you set your budget. It’s best to create a large contingency fund because once you are in it, generally there is no turning back. 


3. Don’t hire the cheapest contractor.

At the outset, most people will interview several contractors and oftentimes, hire the person or company with the cheapest quote. This is especially true for those without a relationship with a good contractor. If pricing when hiring a contractor is your sole focus, then I’m here to tell you that you are focusing on the wrong thing. In the long run, it’s going to be more expensive to redo a sloppy job or work hire a new contractor mid-renovation.

While obviously price is important, what’s more, is a contractor’s communication skills, punctuality and experience. When interviewing contractors, key things to consider are: do they answer the phone or respond to emails in a timely fashion? Do they show up on time? Have you seen examples of their past work and spoken to recent past clients? Consider these questions before you hire.


4. Pinterest and restoration hardware are a start, but not the answer.

While it’s great to have a vision and a sense of direction for your renovation, its equally important that you be realistic in terms of your expectations. Just because you like the way a room looks on Pinterest or a couch at the Restoration hardware showroom, it doesn’t mean it will work in your space. More than this, it might not be conducive with your lifestyle. Most people planning a space or renovation for the first time will often try to fit too much or too big of furniture into their space to try and recreate a look that just won’t translate into their space or home.


5. Do hire a designer.

When doing a home renovation, the stakes and stress levels can be very high. Most first-time renovators think because “they have taste”, they can pull off a renovation. The problem is that having taste it not enough. Fact is, to pull off a renovation, you need to leverage the experience, contacts, foresight, designer discounts, attention to detail and coaching from someone who has been there and done that many times before with successful results.


Key Takeaway for Your Home Renovation: Expect the Unexpected 

The purpose of this post is not to scare anyone about the idea of renovating. To the contrary, a home renovation can be a rewarding and profitable outcome for many. However, there are no guarantees. For anyone thinking of undertaking a home renovation as a first timer, it’s essential to go into it eyes wide open and with a reliable team in place. The best pro tip that I can give to anyone considering their first home renovation is to expect the unexpected. And, most importantly, make sure you have plenty of on wine hand.


This article is written by Ralph Fox, Broker of Record and Managing Partner here at Fox Marin Associates. Ralph is a Torontonian native who recognized from an early age that the most successful people in life apply long-term thinking to their investments, relationships, and life goals. It’s this philosophy, along with his lifelong entrepreneurial drive and exceptional business instincts that help to establish Ralph as a top agent in the real estate market in downtown Toronto.