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Reno­vations: Plan before you take the plunge

April 4, 2023

Here are some tips to help you plan, finance and complete your renovations.

Whether you’re thinking of renovating a room or installing a new pool, here are some things to keep in mind to help make your project a success.

Make a plan

Renovations often aren’t the best time to be flying by the seat of your pants. Without planning, you may encounter unpleasant surprises.

You need to be organized. Do your research and compare quotes. Write down details about what you want to include in the project and make sure the expectations of the entire household are taken into account. Every minute you invest at the beginning of the project can help lay a solid foundation for the rest of the work.

Set a schedule

To stay on top of the project and stay on track timewise, set up a schedule.

With a clear and realistic timeline divided into tasks and dates, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you check things off your list.

Delivery and permit issuance times may be longer than you expect, and you may also face inventory shortages. Stay informed and adjust your timeline accordingly.

Draw up a budget

Before getting out your hammer, take out your calculator. Write out a list of your expenses, the cost of materials, tools, labour, transportation and waste management, if required.

Angela Iermieri, a financial planner at Desjardins, suggests sticking to the original plans and avoiding any “might-as-wells,” as in, “Since I’m remodeling the bathroom, I might as well redo all of the floors!”

It’s also a good idea to go with a neutral, timeless look and shy away from trends. For example, instead of materials that are in fashion, choose accent colours for your walls. If you want to make changes, it may be simpler and less expensive to give your room an update by changing the colour of your walls. Renovations may be part and parcel of home maintenance, and some could even add value to your home, such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Leave room for surprises

In recent years, high demand and high prices for construction materials have led to uncertainty for those getting started on renovations. It’s now essential to assess the impacts of cost increases along the way, delays and product breakage and assess possible solutions at the project planning stage.

Here are some things that you can do:

  • Find out whether or not there’s a clause in the contract that allows your contractor to increase the original price.
  • Make sure materials are available at the price quoted and find out the impact of any delivery delays.
  • Set aside an emergency fund to cover cost overruns.
  • Contact your advisor to find out how much extra financing you could get, if needed.

Angela Iermieri advises setting aside approximately 10% to 15% of the total cost of your renovations. It can often be difficult to stay on target, whether you end up having to carry out surprise repairs, or if something unexpected comes up. It’s better to plan on going over than under.

Choose the right financing

“Some people finance their renos the easy way with their credit card, but this can be an expensive mistake,” says Iermieri. "When it comes to budget management, opting for financing with a set repayment schedule, fixed term and lower interest rate makes a lot more sense."

She suggests starting with any available savings you have or using money you’ve set aside for other goals you can put off.

But what you don’t want to do is take money out of your emergency fund. It’s important to keep a financial cushion for any curveballs life throws your way.

If you need to borrow funds, use the best financing solution for your situation.

If you’re eligible, here are some options for financing your renovations:

  • Personal loan*: Regular repayments with a term that works for you. It also offers a better interest rate than your credit card.
  • Personal line of credit*: You can use what you need and repayment is flexible. To help manage your budget, you can set up regular payments once the renovations are complete.
  • Mortgage financing*: You’ll get a lower interest rate than you would on a credit card or personal loan. To get financing or refinancing, contact your caisse to find out what options are available.

Home equity line of credit-*: At Desjardins, some mortgage holders can use a Versatile Line of Credit. This line of credit lets you use your home equity to finance bigger projects at a competitive rate.

Surround yourself with experts

Contact an advisor

Whether you’re looking to get new financing, increase your current financing or transfer your financing to Desjardins your advisor is your financial partner for getting your renovation project off the ground. They can review your finances and propose solutions adapted to your needs, profile and borrowing capacity, while making sure you still have funds for other priorities.

Adjust your home insurance

Let your insurance company know about your renovation project so they can make sure you have the coverage you need. You’ll also need to update your file once the renovations are complete.

Turn to RenoAssistance

Thinking of making major renovations, like updating your kitchen or bathroom, finishing your basement or redoing your roof? Finding qualified contractors that suit your needs and budget can be hard. RenoAssistance helps you prepare your project, get up to 3 quotes and choose seasoned professionals that meet strict criteria.

RenoAssistance uses a 3-step support process, with no fees or obligations. Here's how it works:

1. Submit your project: Fill out the online questionnaire, and an experienced advisor will get in touch with you to discuss your project.

2. Compare quotes: RenoAssistance will select up to 3 certified contractors based on their expertise and your needs.

3. Pick your Perfect Match: You'll move forward knowing that RenoAssistance is there for you throughout the project.

Visit RenoAssistance to learn more.

If you’re ready to start your reno, be sure to stick to your budget and be disciplined—that’s the key to success.

Happy renovating!

*Subject to credit approval by the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec. Certain restrictions, exclusions and limitations may apply.