You’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge and update your home. Making your dreams become a reality is gratifying and a bit scary.

We’ve watched the home reno shows and know that things can go disasterously wrong. But creating a well-organised plan and realistic budget will save you time, money, and angst.

Here’s what you can do.

1. Calculate your budget

Renovations can be expensive, especially when unanticipated defects are found (rotten wood, asbestos). You’ll have a limited budget, so it’s important to know how much you can reasonably afford. Some questions to consider:

  • How much money do you have saved already?
  • Do you have time to save more before the work begins?
  • How much will you need to borrow from you line of credit or bank? Can the repayment schedule fit in your monthly budget?

2. Identify the work

Even if you only want to change one or two things, take time to make a list of what needs updating. It may prompt things you’ve forgotten or haven’t thought of.

Be sure to include work associated with the upgrade. For example, replacing your bathtub will most likely include these items and increase the cost:

  • tiles/tub surround
  • floor covering
  • drywall for bathrooms
  • possibly some insulation

These are extra costs you might not have considered and will have an impact on your budget and timeline. 

3. Prioritize the work


Which of the items on your list are more important? These are the things you want to finish first. Are new kitchen countertops and cupboards of more value than a bigger ensuite bathroom?


The materials you choose are also a factor. You’ve always wanted marble countertops, but is quartz good enough? Same with flooring. Hardwood floors may be your dream, but realistically, would using a good quality laminate allow for additional items in your budget?

Resale value

Also, you may want to consider the resale value of these improvements, especially if you plan on selling in the next few years. Kitchen and bathroom renos consistently provide the best return on your investment.

4. Cost the work

This is when you find out how much this will cost. The best thing is to contact three contractors and ask them for:

  • a detailed quote,
  • when they can start work, and
  • how long will it take to finish.

Be sure to give them your detailed, prioritized list.

Take a close look at the quotes and compare them with each other and your list, also check if a contingecy of about  10-15 per cent of the total is included. This amount is to help cover most or all of any unexpected expenses.

Maximize your budget

If the total is more than you can afford take another look at your list. Can some work be done at a later date, or will using less expensive materials make the difference?

Less expensive material doesn’t mean cheap. Go for the best quality you can afford. Using the flooring example from above, if hardwood floors are too expensive, get the best quality laminate you can afford.


Undergoing renovations is an exciting and stressful time. A well thought out plan and budget will relieve some of the pressure on you and your family.