Home remodelling FAQs for BC homeowners

Home Remodelling FAQs for BC Homeowners

Remodelling can be a big undertaking. Updating your home should add functionality, comfort, and value to your property. When you embark on the design and renovation process, getting the right answers to your questions, and some you probably haven’t thought of yet, from contractors you trust can be crucial in your decision-making process.

We’ve compiled a list of home remodelling FAQs for you, responding to the most commonly asked remodelling questions. If you have a remodelling question not listed here, please leave your question for us in the comments below.

What considerations and preparation should precede a remodel project?

The first thing you should consider is your goals. Are you updating a layout that’s no longer working for you, improving the functionality of the space? Are there just a few rooms that need renovation, like a bathroom or the kitchen, or have you decided to turn your existing property into your dream home, while increasing your property’s value with an extension?

Have you established a budget for the remodel? What are your expectations for return on investment? Are you looking for a monetary return within a few years, or are your immediate goals additional space, greater functionality and more enjoyment from your home? What is the timeline for the desired renovations?

Which renovations will add value to my home?

It’s important to prioritize the most pressing work. If the roof needs replacement, there’s structural damage in the crawl space, the brick is crumbling, mould is growing around single-pane windows, or the furnace needs replacement, that’s the place to start. It may be tempting to begin with cosmetic enhancements to your living spaces, but potential buyers aren’t likely to overlook essential costly repairs because you installed new kitchen cabinets and shiny new granite countertops. Even if the buyers don’t spot the problems, their Realtor® or home inspector almost certainly will.

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate experts have listed 7 top home renovations for potentially increasing the resale value of your home.

1) Increasing your square footage with an addition can add significantly to your family’s enjoyment of the home and its value. As families grow, they usually need more space. Parents and in-laws may choose to join the household, or you may be one of the families impacted by changes to the work environment since 2020, so an office or two may be needed. According to Joe Rand, managing partner at Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, “If you can add square footage to a house, you always add value. Size matters!”

2) A complete remodel of the kitchen can improve both its functionality and aesthetic appeal. You’ve heard it time and time again; the kitchen is the heart of the home. If it’s the hub of your home, the upgrade can encourage your family to spend more time together. Realtors® surveyed by the National Association of the Remodelling Industry’s 2019 Remodelling Impact Report estimated that homeowners typically recover up to 52% of the cost of a kitchen remodel when selling their homes. Brad Carlton, a sales associate at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers says, “Updating the kitchen with new appliances and bathrooms with new plumbing fixtures may seem trivial, but it’s a must.”

3) Renovating or adding a bathroom comes in just behind the kitchen as a key selling point. Expanding one of the existing bathrooms, increasing the counter space to accommodate two sinks, adding a shower or tub to a half bath or adding another bathroom to a guest area will immediately increase the appraised value. According to the NARI Realtors®, homeowners typically recover up to 57% of the cost of a bathroom renovation when selling their homes.

4) Updating old heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems eliminates one of the primary deal breakers when selling a home. According to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Realtor®, Derek Whitner, “Studies have shown that millennials are unwilling to overlook old mechanicals, even if the seller is offering a home warranty as a way to compensate for the age of these systems.” Reliable HVAC systems will provide you with peace of mind, and according to the NARI Realtor® survey, you could potentially recover 85% of the cost of an HVAC replacement when selling.

5) Upgrading your porch, patio or backyard enhances your outdoor living space, offering more opportunities for family time and entertaining guests. Screened-in porches, decks and patios with outdoor grills and small fridges extend your living area during the summer months. And fire pits are a cozy way to increase the usability of your backyard during the cooler months. Fences add more privacy and help keep your children and pets safe, and they are in demand by home buyers when the time comes to sell.

6) Accessibility is an important consideration when renovating any space. In addition to accounting for each inhabitant’s tastes, preferences and capabilities, it’s wise to create spaces that accommodate the needs of people of all physical abilities, ages and sizes. Jody Steinberg, a Realtor® of the LaVista Hills Team, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate says, “If it is possible to make your home more accessible, your home will be more welcoming to guests, more marketable to the largest audience, and best of all, you will be able to age in place.” Visitable houses include features like level entry, wider doors throughout and a washroom on the main floor.

7) And lastly, updating your light fixtures is one of the easiest and most affordable renovations; one that immediately adds value to your home. Modern lighting will transform the entire home. It’s important to consider both the design of each piece as well as how well it lights the space. According to Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Realtor®/designer Robin Wolfram, “It can provide the big wow factor many homes would otherwise lack.”

How should I start my remodelling project?

The first step in any remodelling project is the research, whether you’re considering an extension, simple bathroom upgrade or full-scale kitchen remodel. Begin by identifying any structural and functional problems you need to address, and then the design challenges you want to address and change. Next, begin clipping photos and design inspiration, either by tearing sheets from architectural and design magazines or by saving digital screenshots and URL addresses of webpages. Once you know what you want, and can show inspirational examples of your vision to the designer, it’s time to explore the online websites and portfolios of local design builders and schedule an appointment.

What is a design-build contractor?

The traditional construction approach involves appointing the architect or designer and the contractor separately. The design–build procurement route offers homeowners a single point of responsibility and only one primary contact. The design-builder’s team can handle every phase of the remodelling process, from the initial concept and design, 3D renderings and blueprints, through construction and the final approvals and project completion.

Working with a unified design and build process can improve communication, lower costs, encourage insightful home remodelling ideas, help mitigate risk, allow for greater customization options and shorten the construction timeframe.

What questions should I be asking the remodeling contractor?

Assuming you’ve already checked your prospective contractor’s website, testimonials and portfolio, BBB rating and have confirmed they are a RenoMark™ Renovator in good standing, questions you want to ask your design-build contractor include:

    • Are you local? Where is your head office?

    • Are you BC Housing licensed and insured?

    • Do you charge for estimates?

    • Can you provide references?

    • Can you explain your change order process?

    • Do you offer a warranty on your labour?

How long does a home remodel take?

One of the most common questions our renovation team is asked involves the timeframe. How long will it take can be a challenging question to answer, because every project is unique. At the risk of oversimplification, remodel projects can be divided into three main categories: cosmetic renovations, medium-sized projects and major remodels and structural repairs.

Cosmetic renovations may involve updates such as painting the interior and exterior, replacing countertops and flooring, or finishing the basement or attic, and can take from a few days to 3 months. Medium-sized remodels may include a full kitchen, building a garage to the side of the house, adding rooms above the existing garage, moving a wall to expand a bathroom or the addition of a fireplace to the living room, and these projects can take from several weeks to 6 months. Major overhauls or whole-house renovations typically included structural remodels like the addition of a second story, extending the floor plan to increase the square footage, house lifting, or structural and foundation repairs, and these can take anywhere from 6 months to over a year.

Other considerations that affect the timeframe include money, the size of the home and weather conditions. Most contractors try to give an accurate estimate, but when things are torn apart the actual condition of the building is revealed. There can be surprises when remodelling, and those can result in budget overages. If a budget overage requires the project to be halted while more money is secured it could delay completion. The larger the space, the longer the project tends to take. One of the most common delays to project timelines is weather conditions. Contractors always try to stick to the schedule, but unusual rainfall, snow or cold snaps can cause unexpected delays.

Reid Madiuk

Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Squamish and Whistler builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.

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