Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Budgeting for a Home Reno? Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Budgeting for a Home Reno? Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst

Article excerpt

How to budget for a home renovation

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TORONTO - Ali Bisram has less-than-fond memories of her basement bathroom renovation project.

"It was supposed to be around $2,500 to $3,000. We just wanted to replace the toilet and the vanity and put in a smaller shower, a little corner unit," says Bisram, a 35-year-old government administrative co-ordinator in Brampton, Ont.

"But when you open up the walls inside a 120-year-old home you don't what you'll find."

Problems included a toilet with unconnected "Frankenstein plumbing" flushing directly into the ground, not to mention the uninsulated speaker cables masquerading as house wiring discovered beneath the demoed shower wall.

Two years and about $20,000 later the renovation was completed, during which Bisram and her wife had the work done in instalments to keep up with the escalating costs.

Bisram says she learned a key lesson about budgeting for any future home renos: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

For Adam Mernick, a general contractor and owner of Inglewood Restorations Ltd. in Toronto, any project he tackles must include contingency costs of 30 to 50 per cent to cover issues that crop up.

"I always go into it assuming there will be structural, plumbing and electrical problems," he says. "If you're hiring a contractor you need someone who is going to be honest and upfront and not try to promise you the moon during the first meeting. If a price sounds to good to be true it probably is."

Mernick's advice is to get at least three quotes from different insured contractors to get a sense of what a project should cost -- accounting for everything from materials and labour to licensing and permits, as well as potential problems.

Often home owners don't have realistic expectations when it comes to the actual cost of a project, adds Toronto-based interior designer Lisa Canning. …

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