Planning Your Project

A step-by-step approach to planning your renovation project :

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and have your home or cottage renovated.  This is a major decision that will dramatically affect your living space and so you need to plan it appropriately.  Whether your plans include a complete remodel into your dream home or you’re just tweaking a room or two – it pays to plan.  Proper planning will ensure the project runs smoothly and you get to enjoy your new space as soon as possible and for many years to come.

Follow these 12 Steps:

1. Know what you want.  Think about your family’s lifestyle and what you need your house to be in order to best accommodate that lifestyle – not only for today but also over the long-term.

2. Consider how you are going to pay for the project and look into various financing options.

3. Call or drop in to your local Muskoka Town Hall and ask about what permits will be required and the cost of those permits.  In addition to a building permit, if your project involves an addition or a new house, you may need to acquire approvals from the Planning Department as well.

4. Talk to your home insurance company to make them aware of your project.  You need to have insurance to ensure that you are covered during the construction phase.

5. Select a professional builder by searching Find A Professional, interviewing a few to find the best match for you.

6. Check references by calling the builder’s past clients.  This is a critical step in the process.  Builders expect you to ask and are fully prepared to provide you with this information.

7. Your builder may have an in-house capacity for doing drawing and plans or would be able to recommend someone.  Otherwise, hire an architect.

8. Examine your builder’s quote.  If you have requested a quotation from more than one builder, keep in mind that it’s very important when comparing quotes that it is an apples-to-apples comparison and that you are not just considering the bottom line.  Also, for your own budgeting purposes – remember to allow a 10 percent contingency.  It is very common for homeowners to ask their builders for changes and extras while construction is underway.

9. Once you are satisfied with your selected builder’s qualifications, accept his/her offer and ask for the work to be specified in writing as a contract.  Review the contract carefully, ensuring the description of the job matches precisely with what you want and have communicated.  A contract is important even for the smallest jobs – it should clearly state what the expectations are for the renovation in terms of the builder’s responsibility as well as yours as the homeowner.  Be sure that details such as price, payment schedules, start date, timelines and scope of project are outlined.  In addition, both parties should be clear on areas of responsibility such as who is responsible for permits and other requirements of the job outside of the actual construction (locating services, waste removal, etc.).  Discuss and agree on how changes to the original agreement will be handled and include these details in writing as well.  The homeowner will be expected to adhere to the payment schedule as outlined in the contract.  Ensure it is clear when and at what stages the homeowner is expected to provide payment.  What is the holdback at the completion of the project and when is final payment expected?  Look for omissions in the contract – if something important isn’t mentioned, you need to have it added and clarified.

10. Communication is key to a positive working relationship.  The builder should provide you with regular progress reports throughout the project.  You should be readily available to make decisions in a timely fashion so not to hold up the project.

11. As the project nears completion, check for any outstanding items (deficiencies) and ensure your communication with the builder is clear on the last minute details.

12. Warranty and After Sales Service – The details of the contractor’s warranty should be clearly spelled out in writing and should specify if the workmanship is under warranty and for how long. Details of warranties for materials should be relayed to the homeowner along with any written materials that outline the homeowner’s responsibilities to ensure warranty conditions are met.