Common Mistakes People Make When Planning A Renovation For Their New Home

Daniel Hall |

Every homeowner aspires to have a home that is a reflection of themselves. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get the house of your dreams from the get-go. If you'd like to upgrade your house or parts of it, a home renovation project could be the key to having the home you've always wanted.

A renovation is an exciting chapter in your life, but in a rush to finish a project within a limited budget and timeframe, you may commit costly mistakes and be left with a poor or mediocre result. To ensure your home renovation is accurately executed and your final product matches all your requirements, you will want to have the benefit of an experienced Architect on your team.

With their combined knowledge of construction and interior design, they can help you by outlining your vision, selecting the right materials and finishes, monitoring the construction process, and end up making better use of your space. Some companies even find economical, sustainable, and modern ways to accomplish your goals.

As eco-friendly home designers and architects in Toronto, ON, The Architect Builders Collaborative Inc. has put together six common mistakes people make when planning a renovation for their new home.

1. Not consulting an architect before purchasing a property.
Without any prior experience or knowledge, you may estimate the wrong pricing, which can drive you straight into a money-pit. To avoid running out of cash halfway through the renovation and the disappointment of not being allowed to make the changes you dreamed of, consider consulting an architect before purchasing a house. An architect can see both the potential and the warning signs of a property. They can help you determine whether the house meets your needs and wants, and see how easy or hard it is to renovate. Aside from looking into building code issues that you might need to consider, they can also determine the type of renovation the house needs, the duration of completion, and the budget for the project.

2. Not planning the renovation with our Green Design Discovery process.
While this step lays a solid foundation for further planning, design, and construction, it is still often overlooked. Before starting the designing process, we investigate the possibilities and limitations of your property and whether or not they complement your needs and must-haves. This reduces the likelihood of going over the budget and will also ensure satisfaction on your part. We help guide people to make the most worthwhile choices, where they will see the most significant benefit and return in their investment.

3. Not involving your architect in the construction process.
Sometimes, builders don’t follow the drawings, or they find an easier or cheaper way to achieve the apparent look of the design. Often, they also cut corners by substituting one material for another. For example, they could substitute cheaper stucco for the cement board cladding.This is a problem, especially when non-combustible cladding is required, which cement board siding is and stucco isn’t. When you have an architect involved, you can monitor the quality and accuracy of the building process, and watch as your designs turn into a reality.

4. Hiring an architect based on fees rather than your needs.
Designers charge a 10-12% fee of the construction cost. However, a smart designer can save you the same amount, or more in the construction cost, so that way the designer pays for itself. When you work with an architect, they will make sure the whole process goes smoothly. Considering the renovation of your house is a one-time expense, it is best not to penny-pinch when it comes to the design of your project.

5. Unaware of the difference between total project cost and construction cost.
The total cost of a project typically includes an additional 35% of construction cost. This accounts for design, permits and finance, taxes, furniture fixtures and appliances, and contingency. From these, permits and finance are an unavoidable expense and cost around 5-10% of the budget, along with HST, which is a sales tax collected by contractors. Design and engineering fees account for 10-12%, while 5-10% amount has to be set aside as construction contingency. Whereas, the so-called ‘hard’ cost of construction - materials, labor, tradespeople, and contractor varies from property to property, and so does the cost of furniture, fixtures, and appliances. Construction costs are also driven by many factors, including the site constraints, access, and higher relative costs of making small buildings.

It’s clear that the easiest place to control your costs will be in the largest chunks. You also have some control over the cost of the furniture, fixtures, and appliances by making reasonable choices. The key to controlling both of these is, of course, in the ‘design’ slice. A skilled architect can save you money over using a ‘design-builder’ or a drafting service.

6. Settling for inexpensive products.
During a renovation or construction, homeowners often try to cut costs by using cheaper materials. These cheaper materials may also be more toxic. For example, MDF trim releases toxic urea formaldehyde gas throughout its lifetime. Did you know that those trendy granite counters are often mildly radioactive?. Instead, use smart, long-lasting materials that are healthy for both you and the environment. High-quality products and materials will pay for themselves in the long run when you calculate your reduction in energy costs.

As windows are the biggest openings in your building, you want to pay attention to their quality and durability. For instance, while triple-glazed windows cost an additional 15-20%, it will be worth your investment as it will reduce your energy costs and prevent the need for replacement. People often make the mistake of buying inexpensive windows to save the direct cost. However, maintenance costs are usually greater with cheaper, less durable products. If you use better quality products, like metal roofs instead of asphalt shingles, the roof will last much longer, and will never need to be re-shingled.

To avoid these and other mistakes, reach out to the experts at The Architect Builders Collaborative Inc. We are a group of green architects & designers in Toronto, ON, that are working towards creating green homes and green commercial spaces. We work closely with our clients’ and ensures every project that we undertake benefits our environment, brings our clients’ dreams to life and provides excellent value. Our services include providing green renovation and design services in The Greater Toronto Area, Guelph, Elora, Fergus, and surrounding areas.

For a complete list of our services, please click here. If you have any questions about home renovation, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us here.

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