By Rahila Ovais

Stay Positive Through Home Renovations

We recently moved into a new house and it took us a quarter of the year to make it into the home we wanted. Since our sole reason for moving was to be closer to family, we hadn’t paid much attention to its condition.  Our new house is nearly 20-25 years old and the previous owners had kept it just like that! It was dark, dingy and dated (feel free to add any other D words to this list) and although it is a sound structure, it required major upgrading to make it loveable and livable for us.

After a 3-4 month renovation, these are the lessons we learned:

Have a Plan Be Realistic

When I say have a plan, I don’t mean that you should have a vague idea of what you want from your renovation/remodeling project. What I mean is you should make your plan as detailed as possible while also keeping it realistic. If you are looking to create an open concept space, then be aware that some things on your wish list may not be possible due to building code and structural issues. So make sure to have a back-up plan as well.


Setting a budget almost defines your plan or shall I say your plan depends on your budget. No matter how you put it, both the plan and budget go hand in hand. So when making your plan and setting your budget, it’s a good idea to overestimate the costs. Do not and I repeat do NOT plan to use all your savings towards your renovation. Save yourself a cushion for those unexpected costs or expenses that are bound to arise with any renovation project.


Ask your friends for referrals but also make sure to do your own research. Most contractors are referred by word of mouth. When you do have a reference of a reputable contractor, ask to visit one of their job sites, check out their most recent project details. Define your plan as clearly as possible and ask for detailed estimate/quote. Determine how you can work with your budget to maximize the end result.

Manage and Communicate

Now that you have hired a contractor, all you have to do is to manage them. Sounds easy? Let me tell you by my personal experience that it not as easy as it sounds. While you have to make your presence known to your contractor, you also don’t want to micro-manage everything. As long as you define clear timelines and your deadline is specifically laid out, you still have to make sure that work it being conducted in a timely manner. Sometimes you may have to deviate a little from your timelines due to reasons beyond your control such as any third party or supplier issues.

Temporary Campers

We were lucky enough to camp at my mom-in-law’s house during the three month long renovation project at our house, but how many times and how many people really have that advantage? If you are having your kitchen remodeled then you will definitely have to set up a temporary camp away from the construction zone, with a microwave, toaster oven, electric kettle etc. Same goes for washroom renovations. Make sure you are only renovating one washroom at a time and I won’t go into any details on why!

Pack Up On Patience

This is most important to remember during any renovation/remodeling project. You will need to pack your patience and you will need lots of it. You will have to be patient not only with your contractor and your partner/family but most importantly with yourself. Focus on the end result.


About the author:

Rahila Ovais is a Pharmacy Technician working at the Ontario College of Pharmacists. A mother to four, she’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago.

Image: 123RF/astragal