Prepare your budget for the renovation money monster



Things always get in the way whenever you’re planning to do renovations especially when you’re doing all the work yourself. Time is the biggest factor quickly followed by money.


If you are planning on selling your home you know it’s very important to do your research to find out what renovations really are money well invested rather than wasted.

If you put more money into your renovations than you really need to than you may not recoup the cash when it comes time to put that for sale sign on your front lawn. Talking to your real estate agent is a great start if this is the route you plan to take.


Real Estate agent


I have plenty of renovations in our house to get done even if we were planning to sell which we talk to our agent about yearly when we meet with her so we know if we are still on track with renovation ambitions. At the end of last year and the beginning of this year I told you that for this coming 12 months the plan around the house was to update the bathrooms. The upstairs bathroom and the ensuite need a total overhaul without fail and then maybe touch the kitchen if funds allow.


Budget renovations


We budgeted $5,000 to renovate the two full bathrooms in our home although even this maybe a little on the hopeful side as many of you will agree. Keep in mind the budget may just work depending on what you need done. This is fine as we have the money saved up but we will work with the budget to see how far it takes us. An unwritten rule that my father always worked with when budgeting for any project that we worked on said I should budget in a further 10% for unforeseen incidents.


Money monster


When planning something on the larger end of renovations, making a list of what you really want in that room will allow you to set a budget. If the budget starts to go way beyond what you expected then you may want to scale down your ambitions. The money monster can come creeping in faster than you can shake a stick because we start to want more and more in the space but it may be just be too much for what the budget can handle.

Your budget may increase if you need to go out and buy certain tools so keep that in mind during your brainstorming and planning process. I have over the course of time acquired a number of tools when they have been on sale in preparation for renovation projects like this but I still don’t have it all so I must keep that in mind when deciding on the budget.

I have a sliding wet tile saw, plumbing tools, various drill bits including a set of diamond hole saws for tiles. I like the look of the finished product to be perfect so a perfect circle around pipe work is more appealing to me than a square knocked out of the corner of a tile.


Bathroom renovation plan


I’m hoping to purchase two vanity units, two granite tops, two porcelain sinks and one bath tub as the enamel on the one steel tub is chipped and has started to rust. Re-enamelling the tub is not worth the cost as the process will cost more than replacing the tub itself.

We already have replacement low flow toilets ready to be installed. We bought these toilets a while ago when we took advantage of our city’s rebate program and managed to get two $175 toilets for the grand total of $50 for the pair. If you haven’t already made the most of government grants, contact your city for their list of current rebates.

Tiling, shower valves, sinks, faucets, sealant, toilet gaskets, stop cocks (or shut off valves) as well as new vanity light fittings and waterproof membrane for both showers are just more items that add to the ever-growing list. Soon enough we may find that ambitious $5000 budget we started out with may get eaten up by that money monster. See how fast the money can disappear.


Spend your money once


It soon adds up, so keeping an eye on prices helps me determine what I can do within each bathroom. It sounds expensive but getting someone in to do all the work will cost at least twice the amount.

This won’t be my first bathroom renovation either. I have done more than one bathroom renovation in my life so the task isn’t that daunting. If the budget goes above what I’m planning for on the basics then I won’t cheap out. I want to make the bathroom last, so spending good money on good quality products is the way I’m going to go.

Even if you do come to sell potential buyers will be able to tell if you put the effort into your renovations in terms of quality and workmanship if they’ve done their homework yielding you the potential for a higher return on your home. Why throw good money every few years just to replace something you could have put a bit more money into to make it last longer?

The wife has already picked out the finishes that she likes and how she wants the overall look to be. I have the task of converting that vision into the real thing. Consider looking at magazines for design ideas or visiting local area open houses for more in-person ideas or even a home show. It’s amazing what you can learn just from talking to the experts.


Renovation conflicts


Remember every bathroom is different, some things may be impossible to either fit in your room or the fact that moving a toilet may cause even more work than you imagined. Keep the idea simple, over complicating the design can cause space conflicts. Adding in too many electrical items can lead to adding in more electrical circuits from the panel, giving you a sudden increase in cost and time unless complicated is what you want or don’t mind dealing with.


Interview trades people


If you’re unsure what services you can or can’t move than get a professional in because guessing is just not going to get you very far. If you can keep all of the same items in the same areas then plumbing and electrical work will be kept to an absolute minimum. Remember to interview potential trades people, get itemized quotes, ask for references you can go round and see. Insist on liability insurance, licences if required, permits and inspections, timelines to completion of work in case another trade needs to follow directly behind them.


DIY or Professional


If you can do all the finishing work but you need a professional to install all the electrics, plumbing, tubs and showers and so forth then so be it. You’re only going to be paying for a portion of the renovation to labour costs. It’s no good planning a budget based on you doing all the work if you can’t do it or try to convince yourself that you can do it.

Friends of ours were able to finish renovations to their entire home for under $25,000 where they did a majority of the work themselves but it depends on how comfortable you are with renovating because not everyone is handy, let’s face it.

You are no less of a man or woman if you have to call in a professional to finish off certain aspects of your project. That is why they apprentice for many years because it’s just not a career you can learn everything by watching a You Tube video or reading a book or article on the internet so trust their skills but ask all of the right questions to pick the right person for the job. Pick and choose what you plan to learn via social media and print to save you money but if you can’t so it consider hiring the pro.

Alternatively you can also take a basic renovation course at a local home improvement store. They usually run classes in the evenings for things like tiling, flooring installations etc. These courses can give a novice great tips and advice. Reading and doing are two different things. Most people learn quicker when they perform a task rather than just read about it.


Reduced facilities


Make sure that you have extra facilities before ripping out any bathroom or kitchen otherwise washing and cooking could be quite the hassle if hold up’s happen along the way. As we have two bathrooms one will get renovated at a time so making the other one available for us to use and therefore minimizing the impact of reduced facilities.

The last time I renovated a kitchen the washing up was performed in the bathroom sink and the cooking was all made on a mobile electric ring, which are sometimes used for camping. Make sure you’re prepared for things like this because services in the kitchen can disrupt the household, although eating out is always an option it can get expensive for your budget in the long-term.


Don’t rush renovations


Keep track of your spending with a renovation budget, but try not to change your plan too much mid-project if things aren’t working out. The renovation is going to take time, it’s not the same as what you see on the television, a complete renovation is not going to happen within half an hour.

Also, keep in mind that some renovations may have to be reported to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) which could affect your yearly assessment so that’s another thing to look into which may change the value of your home.

Last but certainly not least, take your time, have a little patience and take pride in what you are doing. Don’t slap things together otherwise the finished will look like a dog’s dinner. I should know, I’ve seen so many bad home owner renovations in my time even more so by going to open houses in Ontario.

How do you plan your budget for renovations?



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  1. Great post! The 10% tip is one that I’m definitely planning on using when considering my own renos this year. Another thing is to add an extra 10-10% to your expected finish times–there’s nothing worse that planning a renovation to be done before guests come to town and having to scramble to throw it together in time (or make them stay in a hotel, haha oops)

    1. What a great idea with the finishing time, smart idea. I take my time as I’m a bit of a perfectionist so putting a time on my reno might be difficult.

  2. Good article and it’s good too that you have looked into this and given it a lot of thought. We have done a lot in this house and hubby is not a fan of the KISS principal!!! He will over engineer things so everything takes 3X as long as it should and costs way more than it should.Mind you he can do the wiring no problem…I just hope you are not in a hurry there!!
    We always do try to buy tools and product for the reno on sale and I usually start looking for what I want on sale before he gets started on things. He has drooled over the offerings at the Re-store in Stratford…. The idea of the extra 10% is a good one, Murphy’s Law and all… personally I think Murphy was an optimist…
    His idea of budgeting for the roof when we did that in 2009 was to go to the bank and sign up for a line of credit…to the tune of $25,000.00……..I damn near had a heart attack!!!! The one and only reason I signed off on it was that was him saying that he was going to do this whether I liked it or not. After he fell off the roof we had to bring in someone else to do the roof and that added to the cost..big time.
    If you wait long enough to start the kitchen work you should be able to use your BBQ for cooking outside. Washing the dishes in the bathroom sink will work too but I found it very hard on my back. I’m on the tall side and the sink was a low one.
    I’ve pretty much lived my life(except for a few years) in old houses so have been there and done that. It would be nice to live in a place that doesn’t need work for a change…..A girl can dream…….

    1. Wow that was one expensive roof.. was it a metal roof? The re-store is a great place to find items at reduced costs. I like the BBQ idea which we have with a side burner although you won’t catch me in the snow using that side burner lol… I might wait to do that reno until the summer months.

      1. A lot of that was hubby buying this and that plus the fact he really had no clue what the hell he was doing!!! As I said, he is not a fan of the. KISS principal in any way…there is a reason why, when someone is stripping a roof they only do a section at a time. He stripped the entire roof!! Just in time for it to rain..every day for a month. We were tarp central!!!! Then we had rain pouring in near the front and he was up there, no harness, in the rain and wind trying to cover the area with another tarp when he fell off on the driveway side. Thankfully the truck was parked right there as that is what he landed on first. The truck took some of the force and then the suspension recoiled and he flipped off the truck’s bed cover.
        The older boy saw his father fall and thought the worst. The younger boy and I were just getting ready to do the dishes and I heard a loud thud.i didn’t’t have time to think what was that noise when the older boy blew in the back door yelling to call 911…NOW!!!! Dad fell off the roof. He was stabilized in town then transferred to London. The better part of 4 days in the critical care trauma unit and then he was released and was home 10 months before he went back.
        Some of the money on the LOC was paid to others to finish the roof and some to survive of while he was off. It was the week from hell. Left side basal line skull fracture, torn tympanic membrane and he did a major number on his right shoulder, tendons there were ripped to hell. It will never be the same. We also used a lot of the RRSP’s to live on then. Hubby figured once he was back to work it would e no problem building that money back again. Nope, he couldn’t do the overtime he used to as he can’t handle heights any more or lift his right arm up past his shoulder anymore…

  3. It’s so important to take your time like you were saying and spend money where money will save headaches later. My parents have gone through this process and some of the cost-cutting tips they were given jacked up their water bill and eventually led them to redo the project making the original renovation a wasted effort. It’s essential to know what you want and spend time saving until you can afford to do it the right way (despite sticker shock).

  4. Working on renovating out upstairs bathroom as well. I have come to realize that my “dream” bathroom and reality are two totally different things! Our house is 1880 farmhouse which would never had had a bathroom in it in the first place. We have been renovating to something around 1910 ( think Road to Avonlea). At present our bathroom is ( don’t laugh) down seven layers of wallpaper, and nine layers of paint on the trim. The 9 inch high baseboard is beautiful and the door is red pine which was common in the area at the time, rare to find now. I have found 25 very good looking dual flush toilets at the Restore ( Habitat for Humanity). Between $45.-$50. each. I was told by my realtor friend that people move into their new homes and the first thing they do is remove the toilets. This is where they land out. The sinks there are not worth the price though as Home Hardware and Roma often have them at a much cheaper price. I also have collected my Canadian Tire Money for fixtures. I have found tubs on Kijiji for real reasonable prices and checked a few out. We would like a Lion Claw type to fit the era of the house but , and this is where I have to be reasonable, I’m not sure how to get the tub upstairs and if the floor can withstand the weight! I have been hunting around for other ideas. I wish to have everything at the house, to have the contractor here over the Christmas holidays,when they struggle to find work and I get them at a more reasonable price. I have done my homework on this.

    1. Hi Lynaka,
      Yes it’s easy how our dream renovation sometimes is much more costly than we believe. I didn’t know that people change out the toilets as soon as the move in, we didn’t.

  5. We’re not doing renovations because we rent, but we are making some decor changes this year. We moved in last year with not much more than our clothes and were not in a position to do any decorating. So that is our focus this year. Going one room at a time, I’ve been perusing websites for the stores where we shop and using Pinterest to put together “vision boards”. This is helping us to put together not only what we want, but a budget, too.

    1. That’s a great place to look,Pinterest for ideas to decorate. I never gave much thought to a decorating budget when you rent so maybe that is a blog post I could look into for the future on the blog. Happy decorating Christina!

  6. Great post and timely advice. Our simple kitchen renovation started in October. We discovered old knob and tube wiring throughout our ‘updated’ house. The renovation monster has now taken us to practically every room in this house and the kitchen still is not yet done. Thankfully we have the patience and funds to see this through.

    1. That’s a great point you bring up Jackie because we don’t know what lurks behind the walls and what we set for a budget can easily skyrocket as you have found out. Thanks for sharing that reminder. Mr.CBB

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