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Where Smart Reno Dollars Go Part One: Kitchen Renovations

kitchen reno

Question: Where do smart renovation dollars go?

If you’re thinking “Mostly in the kitchen and bathroom”, then you’re right. But how can we make every dollar as smart as it can be…?

From talking to contractors at the Home Renovations show last week, we can tell you that the reno business is booming. People are improving their homes rather than selling and moving, thanks to a weak housing market.

The right renovations increase the value of your home, true, but you need to be certain why you’re doing it. So, consider first: what’s the reason for your reno? Is it to improve your home so you can enjoy living in it, to update it, make it more efficient and save money in the long term, or is it to make money by selling or renting? 

If the answer is to make money by renting, here’s one simple mistake some landlords make: spending their budget on expensive finishes and decor, whilst neglecting long term function and efficiency… even failing to perform the work that keeps a home dry, safe and structurally sound.

If the renovations planned are expected to help your property command higher rent and minimise vacancy over the coming years, they won’t work as intended if over that period there are ongoing or increasingly serious problems (and therefore costs) with the property.

Side note: Some houses are renovated so they can be ‘flipped’ for a profit. If you are buying a house and reading this article, be aware of how often in these home “flipping” cases, the reno work done is largely cosmetic only. Have the most thorough inspection done and don’t be mislead by a pretty finish, or you can wind up with expensive problems – that sometimes don’t become apparent for a few years.

For good quality renos, here’s the number one rule: Fix the important stuff first; get the necessary advice, take care of the basics like plumbing, wiring, heating, venting, aircon and insulation. Then move on to improving layout and function, and finally making it look nice.

Renovations to the kitchen and bathroom are the most popular, and with good reason: We know that kitchen, along with bathroom improvements, increase the value of your house more than most renovations and offer the highest average return on investment. Also, most agree that the kitchen is the heart of a home; in daily life, as families, when entertaining (and especially at parties, it seems) people congregate in the kitchen. Therefore, dollars that improve the kitchen are almost always the best spent. In this article, we’ll concentrate solely on the home’s heart.

 

“How much will I spend?”

Estimates of average Canadian home renovation costs vary greatly, but according to a survey by Houzz.com, the average kitchen reno in Calgary costs $32,200; bathrooms considerably less, but still not cheap, at $7,500… So it’s easy to chew through a modest budget in these two rooms alone. However, not everyone has such a substantial budget, so in these articles, we’re discussing how can we get the most bang for our buck, and what tactics can a person employ to keep reno costs down while still making great improvements to the two most important rooms.

Here are our top 10 tips for getting value for money in the Kitchen:

  1. Have a plan, and therefore a budget, and stick to it. It may seem obvious, but if you want to commit your money wisely, on the things that are most important, then make sure you do your research and planning before you start. Working with as designer may seem like a big up front expense, but it can ensure you get a much better result value overall.
  2. Whether your budget is small or large, ask us to remove your exiting kitchen. If you’re replacing cabinetry, we will try to remove it and other furniture whole, hoping to find it a new home. If this is possible, we’ll do the removal free of charge. If we can’t re-use what’s there, then we still promise to beat any local quote and will endeavor to repurpose raw materials and keep what we can from landfill. Quotes for kitchen rip-outs straight to the dump tend to range from $300 – $800 in Calgary, so these savings alone are not to be sniffed at!
  3. As far as possible, leave plumbing where it is. New plumbing can be very expensive. Here is where an experienced designer can help – they’ve been asked many times to make the most of the existing layout, and can possibly persuade you to swap some expensive ideas for some equally functional, smart and desirable solutions, achieved by working with what’s there.
  4. The same goes for electrical and mechanical work. If you can keep all your appliances pretty much where they are, you’re not going to incur huge costs rewiring and moving ducts for extraction hoods etc.
  5. Nobody knows if it’s remnant or reused stone… Consider seeing whether there are suitable pieces of spare or reuseable counter tops in our store. As well as saving you hundreds on demolition and removal of items, we might be able to help further supply materials for your new kitchen that suit the look – often these are brand new, leftovers acquired direct from manufacturers.
  6. Repurpose at home. You’ve paid for it, so try to use it! Instead of letting any spare material go to waste (typically, between 5% and 10% of new material goes to waste at the end of a project), Maybe make a beautiful cutting board from some leftover countertop, or make inserts for drawers and cabinet; and there are so many things that can be done in the garage with leftover pieces of lumber etc.
  7. Little touches can be very inexpensive but add real beauty and feel. See what interesting used and surplus materials are available at Tim’s Reusables, or elsewhere, to add details that add a real decorative punch to your room; small surface areas, such as the back of a kitchen island, are easily covered with small quantities of left over or reclaimed materials like stone or tile, creating beautiful, novel finishes.
  8. Floors seem to be less important than everything above them. This applies in the kitchen and bathrooms especially, and you might be somebody to whom flooring is vitally important, but to rent, to sell, or to just renew in line with the rest of your remodelling work, you can seriously consider saving money here. If you have wood floors, they can almost always be refinished beautifully. Even if walls move, things can be done with the design (again, this is where the initial planning is vital). If you need to replace a tile or vinyl floor, there are lots of affordable options to look at too.
  9. Regarding walls: consider a cutout. If you’re planning to link the kitchen and living areas to create a more open space, then you may be able to save a lot of work and cash by opting for a cutout, rather than removing a wall. As well as avoiding any repairs to floor and ceiling, you can create more counter space, or perhaps a new seating area by making the cutout into breakfast bar.
  10. If you’re thinking of new doors, then you rarely need to pay big dollars for them… Have a look at timsreusables.com, give us a call, or send us an email. We’re sure we can satisfy your needs and budget with ease…

Hey! Cut that out… 

 A cutout can open up your living space and, at a lower cost than removing a wall entirely, function as a great place to eat breakfast… or sip a cocktail!