Are you considering remodelling your home in Whistler? You may want to enhance your living space to make it more functional, give it a fresh look, or increase your property’s value. In this FAQ guide, we’ll give you the information you need to navigate the remodelling process in the picturesque resort town of Whistler, in BC’s Coast Mountains.
When planning your home remodel in Whistler, consider the mountain climate, the area’s unique alpine terrain and the municipality’s architectural guidelines. You want to ensure that your project aligns with the aesthetics of your surrounding neighbourhood while addressing practical concerns such as snow loads, insulation, and energy efficiency.
As you consider your remodelling project, there are three key factors to keep in mind:
The size of your budget: The amount you’re planning to spend will determine the scope of your project. To get you in the ballpark of what your remodelling budget should be, you will want to know the current market value of your home. A Whistler Realtor® who is familiar with comps for your neighbourhood, should be able to help you establish a realistic value of your property. Plan to spend no more than 10 to 15% on any single room. If you spend more, the renovation’s value may not proportionately increase the value of your home.
According to the Harvard Business School, the net profit of your renovation project can be calculated by taking the estimated income from the project and subtracting the actual or estimated costs of the renovation. Divide your net profit by the estimated cost of investment, and multiply that by 100 to arrive at your ROI percentage.
ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100
The condition of your property: As you begin planning your whole house remodel, it’s important to remember that remodelling a fixer-upper is going to be more expensive and time-consuming than renovating a home that’s in great shape. For example, a house with serious structural issues, or a roof that needs replacement, will either require a bigger budget, or some of the “nice to have” upgrades may have to wait as critical needs are addressed first.
The end goal: Are you planning to live in your home for at least a few more years, to make it more functional and comfortable, while increasing its value? Are you planning to put your home on the market soon, or is it a fixer-upper you purchased to flip? To make the right decisions in planning your remodel it’s important to understand your primary objectives.
If you’re remodelling to sell, the financial return on investment will likely be the number one consideration. Whereas, if you’re updating it to better suit your lifestyle, a portion of the ROI can be enjoyed in your home’s enhanced functionality, comfort and convenience.
Making inexpensive upgrades in each room can add some aesthetic enhancement, but for significant increases in functionality, joy factor, comfort and return on investment, you’re probably looking at a larger-scale project. Renovations to the kitchen, master bedroom or main bathroom are an excellent place to start. And with the focus on reducing our carbon footprint, energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits are a fantastic way to save on energy bills, while increasing the resale value of your home.
Kitchen remodels: The kitchen has become the hub of the modern home, where everyone congregates. Many older homes were built with a spacious living room, dining room and small but functional kitchen. The traditional dining room, with its long table and china cabinet, has become the most under-used room in many households. Removing walls, in an open-plan concept, can open up the space to provide a fluid living space between the kitchen, dining and living areas.
Barrier-free great rooms can offer sufficient space for everyone to enjoy preparing food and cooking, completing homework, catching up on emails from the office, playing games, and catching up with the family… all at the same time. Taking out a wall or two can also allow in more natural light from windows and skylights.
Major kitchen remodels will be more expensive upfront, but if you’re planning to live in the home for at least a few more years, you can expect to receive about 25% of your return on investment in joy factor (enhanced aesthetic appeal, functionality, convenience and comfort), and you should be able to recoup the rest when you sell.
Examples of major kitchen remodels include:
According to the National Bank of Canada, “Many experts estimate that the amount invested in a kitchen should never exceed 15% of the total property value… Once the kitchen is renovated, the recoverable amount at resale is about 75%.”
Bedroom remodels: Remodelling your primary bedroom will not only create your perfect retreat but also add value to your home. The bedroom and adjoining bathroom to your master suite should be a tranquil, comfortable place you look forward to retiring to each day. A bedroom remodel, involving more than a décor refresh, could be welcome for any number of reasons. The current space may not function the way you would like, and the entire layout needs a redesign.
Your financial situation, or perhaps children moving out on their own, may finally allow you to increase the size of your bedroom, with the walk-in shower and freestanding tub you’ve always dreamt of, with a spacious walk-in closet. Or your relationship situation may have changed, and renovating can be a way to move past your memories of a breakup, divorce or death. Or it could be a way to remove the influence and memories of your partner’s former spouse.
Many couples are planning to age in place, and building a ‘forever’ home has become a popular trend, with remodelling decisions reflecting the possibility of reduced mobility in the future. Wide doors and barrier-free showers are one way of planning for all ages and levels of ability. For couples over 50, adding a chair lift or elevator, or creating a new main bedroom suite on the first floor, out of a dining room or guest room, are a way to plan for all ages during a remodel.
Bathroom remodels: Your main and master bathrooms are two of the most-used rooms in your home and a major selling point for potential buyers. Therefore, updating your main bathroom is one of the most cost-effective home improvements you can make. Not only are bathrooms top-selling features, but they allow you to install water-saving fixtures to reduce your future utility bills.
According to Zillow, “bathroom remodels yield the biggest returns in terms of boosting your home’s resale value. For minor cosmetic changes, you’ll see a $1.71 increase in home value for every $1 you spend. This includes things like painting and refinishing cabinets, swapping out the mirror or upgrading hardware.”
A minor bathroom renovation project could include:
Major bathroom remodel projects often include:
According to the National Bank of Canada, “The maximum cost of a bathroom renovation is estimated at 5%… The improvements could generate a recoverable value of about 85%. A new coat of paint on the walls and some cosmetic changes can work wonders to create added value at a low cost.”
It’s a good idea to have a Realtor® run some comps for you. If most of the homes in your Whistler neighbourhood have modern renovated bathrooms, it could be a sound investment to elevate your home’s value to that standard, by making similar upgrades.
Energy-efficiency remodels: If you’re planning a substantial remodel project, that will significantly reduce your household energy usage, your project may qualify for Home Energy Retrofit rebates. Have an energy advisor complete an EnergGuide home evaluation to determine whether your project qualifies. A well-designed energy retrofit can dramatically reduce BC Hydro bills, improve indoor air quality, and make your home healthier and more comfortable to live in.
If you love the neighbourhood you live in and its location in Whistler, a strategic remodel can be an important part of maximizing your return on investment while adapting your home to the changing needs of your household.
It can be tempting to make aesthetic upgrades to the home first, but if your house is showing signs of deterioration, or structural issues, or it requires repairs, those should come first. If ignored, maintenance issues like a leaking roof, rotting floorboards on the porch or patio, or a fireplace and foundation that need repointing, can become expensive problems down the road.
Are you planning to downsize and sell in a few years, perhaps after the children graduate from high school or college? If you’re planning to enjoy the home for some more years, you can enjoy a portion of the return on investment right away in the ‘joy factor’ – aesthetically pleasing surroundings, greater comfort and functionality, with reduced energy costs – and recoup the rest of the costs when you sell. If, however, you are considering a remodel to sell soon, options to consider that typically provide a high return on investment, are a new front door, custom garage doors, manufactured stone veneer façade or some landscaping.
Are there any health and safety concerns? A remodel is the perfect time to upgrade an outdated electrical panel and add the additional outlets today’s devices, chargers and appliances require. Are there plumbing issues, air quality concerns, and fire/security needs? Many homeowners are also future-proofing their homes by installing smart technology, to manage their HVAC system, solar panel system and net metering, water use and sprinkler system, monitor appliance use and handle the fire alarm and security system.
A remodel also provides the perfect opportunity to install a ventilation system, that exhausts stale air and replaces it continuously with fresh, filtered air. Worn or dated finishes on floors, walls and other surfaces can be replaced with non-toxic materials, so everyone breathes easier.
Yes, Whistler has specific building permits and development permits for renovations. Your Whistler remodelling contractor should be up to date with the local building code and permitting process, and most will assist you with securing the necessary permits and scheduling of inspections.
However, if you would like to research the permits yourself, you may contact the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to understand the necessary permits for your project. You can also review the BC Building Code and Resort Municipality’s Zoning Bylaws.
Pandemic lockdowns in 2020 – 2021 changed the ways families interact, and the amount of time spent at home. Spending more time at home with partners and children brought many families closer together. And when restrictions eased, many families discovered they now felt less rushed, hectic and stressed. They had created a healthier balance between work and non-work, and for many, temporary work- and study-from-home arrangements became permanent lifestyle changes.
Some of the most popular Whistler home remodelling projects are:
Ask for recommendations, check BBB and other review sites, and search online: Begin to prepare a list of ten to fifteen Whistler contractors who have the right expertise. You’ll gradually pare down that list to only 2 to 3 contenders, and then make your final selection.
Successful remodelling contractors, who will be easy for you to communicate and work with, also make it easy for you to locate and read about them, view their portfolio and contact them. Their website should have links to associations the builder is in good standing with, such as Havan, RenoMark and the Better Business Bureau.
Compare portfolios: Check over the portfolio of each contractor’s website carefully. Read their About and Service pages. A company doesn’t have to work exclusively on remodel projects, but they should have some large or whole-home Whistler or Sea to Sky Corridor remodel or energy retrofit projects listed in their portfolio.
How long has the company been in business? Do they build in the Resort Municipality of Whistler, so they are familiar with the local building code and working closely with the Whistler municipality?
You’ll want to determine whether the remodel companies on your shortlist are architectural firms or design-build contractors. Design-build renovators offer both design and construction services in a single solution. A design-build contractor looks after every step of your remodelling project, from the initial planning, and architectural drawings, to project management and working closely with the municipality for permits and inspections, to the completion of your project. Architecture companies provide design services for remodelling your home, and then you hire a general contractor separately to complete the construction work.
Once you’ve decided on the remodel building approach that feels right for you, it’s time to interview candidates.
Mike Homes suggests 8 home renovations for consideration to increase the value of a home for resale. He recommends making upgrades and renovating a property by focusing on the future homebuyer while avoiding any “lipstick and mascara” fixes that just cover up problems with the house.
Here are Mike’s recommended upgrade considerations:
Remodelling your Whistler home should be a rewarding experience, adding value to your property, while enhancing your family’s quality of life. By considering the unique characteristics of Whistler, such as its natural beauty and alpine terrain, you can create a remodel that not only meets your needs but also aligns with the pulse of this vibrant Sea to Sky resort community.
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