Where to Start When Renovating a House

It’s time. You’ve dreamed of this moment for years. You know you want to renovate your home but are unsure where to start. This can be slightly dangerous, and plunging into a big reno project unprepared can cost you extra time and money, and you may end up with a renovation you don’t like.

Instead, you want to take your time and plan how you want your renovation to look. After all, 13 billion went into residential renovations Canada-wide in January 2023, and it is not an investment to take lightly (1).

This article will look at where to start when renovating a home, plus some tips and tricks.

Let’s begin.

Key Takeaways

  • Always create a thorough plan first when you start a renovation
  • Consider your budget and your timeline when starting a home renovation

Where to Start When Renovating a House

When discussing where to start when renovating a house, there are a few key things you’ll want to remember, which include:

  • Planning
  • Budgeting
  • Create a timeline
  • Getting multiple quotes
  • Planning for temporary living accommodations
  • Prepping your home by clearing out work areas
  • Asking friends for help

Planning

Planning is the first step of any major project, especially a home renovation. For example, if you want a vaulted ceiling, you should plan on having structural changes done to your walls and ceiling.

A detailed plan can make your renovation flow smoother, especially when you hire professionals to act out your vision.

“Create a sketch or a full-out architectural design and get a sense of your goals for your renovation and how you want to tackle them,” stated Lee Wallender, a home improvement expert at The Spruce.

Budgeting

Having a realistic budget for your home renovation can help streamline the design process and prioritize what you want accomplished for your home. For example, if you have a very tight budget, you might only go for cabinet replacement in your kitchen. If you have a larger budget, you can enjoy more options, like structural changes, new appliances, along with new cabinets.

Sleek and budget-friendly open kitchen
Sleek and budget-friendly open kitchen

 

Create a Timeline

Creating a timeline for your home renovation is essential when starting on a big project. Without an accurate timeline, you won’t know how long each renovation of your home will take. A timeline ensures you can plan for decorations for your home at the right time instead of when a renovation is incomplete.

For reference, I’ve included a table below of roughly how long a renovation takes for a home. Some factors affect how long it takes, such as a non-structural renovation or a highly customized, complex, and structural renovation.

How Long Does Each Renovation Take in a Home

RenovationTimeline
Kitchen10-12 weeks
Bathroom3-4 to 9-10 weeks
Basement4-8 weeks
Home16-24 weeks

Kitchen and bathrooms are usually some of the most extended renovation projects because there are electrical and plumbing systems that are usually re-done during the renovation.

Multiple Quotes

Getting more than one quote before you start is always a good idea for large-scale projects like home renovation. You risk missing out on a deal or faster service if you get only one quote.

For example, say you want to replace the cabinets in your kitchen. You go to three separate contractors and ask for a quote.

The first contractor says they can get it done for $4,000 in 2 and a half weeks. The second contractor says they’re too busy. But the last contractor says they can accomplish it in $2,600 in 10 days. You got a better deal by looking at multiple quotes instead of going with the first one you received.

Pro Tip: Ensure that you receive your quotes with attention to quality. You may get a quote fairly inexpensively, but they may use sub-par materials and cut corners. Instead, always go for a mix of quality and value, like quotes from Renowell.

Temporary Living Accommodations

For significant projects like a home renovation, your home will be busy with the many renovations. More minor renovations, like a single powder room, can get away with adjusting your lifestyle in your home to accommodate it. However, more extensive renovations require that you move out for a few weeks to a few months.

It is always a good idea to know what your temporary living accommodations will look like, whether renting an apartment or sharing a home with another family member while your renovation takes place.

Prepping Your Home

Before moving to your temporary accommodations, it’s best to prep your home so the contractors can get straight to work. That means putting furniture and objects within the home into storage and getting a lockbox for other items you don’t want to put in storage but also want to keep secure.

Asking Friends for Help

When your home is going under renovation, asking friends for help during this transitional period can be helpful. Most often, a full house renovation will require that you move out of your home for some time. If you want to save on renting and furnishing an apartment, you can consider staying with friends. This gives you a familiar place to stay while your home is being renovated, plus you save on rent.

Another thing that friends can help with is finding a safe place for your pets to stay during the renovation. If you decide to move into an apartment temporarily, but they don’t allow pets, instead of sending your pet to an expensive dog hotel, they can live with willing friends. This gives you peace of mind and helps you save on costs.

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What is the Best Order to Start With When Renovating?

When learning how to start with home renovation, the best order to start with when renovating is mentioned below:

  • Start with planning what you want
  • Get multiple quotes and choose the one you like best
  • Discuss design plans and finalize how you want the renovation to look

Start with Planning

It’s always a good idea to start with planning. This gives clarity to your goals and shapes how you want your design to look. 

Planning also helps you manage your budget. If your renovation plans include getting cabinets done but no structural changes, you will better understand your budget.

Planning is a great way to learn where to allocate your resources. For example, say you have a kitchen, bathroom, and basement renovation. You have to ensure enough of the resources are given to the kitchen and bathroom, as theses are more cost-intensive projects than the basement, which depend on the cost of renovation per square inch

Planning also helps with risk mitigation as, while you’re planning, you’ll be able to identify potential risks and challenges.

For example, if you want a new shower installed in your bathroom and new tile, you’ll know in which order you have to renovate: shower, then tiles. If you didn’t plan to have the shower installed and instead just went straight to renovating the tiles, you’d have a more challenging time adding the shower in later.

Home remodeling plan

Get Multiple Quotes

There are many reasons why getting multiple quotes is one of the best ways to start renovating after planning. The main reasons are that it gives you a cost comparison, negotiation leverage, and project timing.

Cost Comparison

One of the most significant benefits of asking for multiple quotes is that it allows you to compare costs between contractors. One may charge high for kitchen cabinets, but another may charge low. This could influence your decision and help you get a better price.

Negotiating Leverage

Multiple quotes give you negotiation leverage when choosing which renovator you want to go with. If there’s a renovator you prefer but want to see if there’s wiggle room in their quote, you can see if they will be willing to negotiate if you bring forward a cheaper quote.

I have had clients come to me where they share that they have, in fact, gotten better deals by simply going to their previous contractor with a quote from elsewhere and asking if they can price match.

Project Timing

Having multiple quotes can help you see which contractor offers the best timelines. Some may be busier, while others may be able to get your home renovation in Mississauga or other cities done sooner.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to compare costs with project timing. You could get a well-priced quote but have an extended waiting period for the project. You could also have another quote that is a bit expensive but has a faster turnaround time.

Discuss Design Plans

Discussing design plans with a professional interior designer can help you bring your vision to life and shape the look of your renovation. This is a crucial step that should come early on when renovating a house.

“You’ll want to know what you want your design to be before you meet the interior designer. You can get inspired by home decorating, magazines, websites, and design shows. When you know what direction you want to take your design in, you’ll be able to avoid getting talked into ideas that may differ too much from your own,” explained Sheryl Geerts of Better Homes & Gardens.

Modern bookshelf with stylish design
Modern bookshelf with stylish design
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What are some Tips and Tricks for Starting a Home Renovation?

To understand best where to start when renovating a house, here are some tips and tricks:

  • Set clear goals. This ensures that you know exactly what to expect from the renovation.
  • Choose suitable quality materials. This helps make your renovation last a long time.
  • Set a realistic budget. Having a budget that’s too low or too high can end up causing issues, like not getting the renovation of your dreams or finding the project costing too much.
  • Set an emergency fund in case the project goes over budget. An emergency fund helps if your contractor reveals that the floor is uneven, causing extra work to be done that no one could have foreseen.

 

I always recommend going into a renovation as informed as possible and knowing your rights and obligations. That way, you can enjoy a smooth and seamless renovation from start to finish.

My Experience with Renovating a House

In my experience with home renovation in Brampton and other cities, I always encourage my clients to think about what they want for their home. As an interior designer, I can help transform a home, but I always prefer a client to give a bit of direction for the design as it will shape it into a more meaningful transformation for them.

Individualized comfort in a unique bedroom
Individualized comfort in a unique bedroom

Ineffective Ways of Deciding Where to Start When Renovating a Home

There are a few ineffective ways of deciding where to start when renovating a home that clients from previous contractors have told me about, which are:

  • Ignoring budget constraints. Without a proper budget, it can be hard to allocate the right amount of resources for an individual project in a home renovation, leading to half-finished or rushed jobs.
  • Rushing into the demolition. Without a proper plan and rushing into demolition, you risk changing plans halfway through the demolition, causing extra work and costs in the long run.
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Frequently Asked Questions

In what order do you renovate a house?

The best order to renovate a house is any structural changes, then the kitchen, then the bathroom, then the rest of the home. Structural changes affect the rest of the work when renovating a home. Kitchens and bathrooms come next because they often have plumbing and electrical systems that must be re-done.

Conclusion

Learning where to start when renovating a house doesn’t have to be complicated. By understanding that planning and budgeting are factors you can’t go without, you can get a leg up on your renovation project. Getting multiple quotes when deciding on your contractor can also help ensure you get the best value for your renovation.

What are your thoughts on how to start with home renovation? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional References

  1. Statistics Canada (2023.) Investment in Building Construction. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3410017501