Everything you need to consider before you start your home renovation

Your step-by-step guide to planning and budgeting for your custom home renovation.

Starting your home renovation will be a lot easier when you follow these steps. We’ll walk you through setting your goals, deciding which type of renovation will meet your needs – whether it be your kitchen, basement, bathroom or whole home – and finding a contractor that you can trust. 

Set your home apart from your neighbours in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotoks and area when you customize your home to your needs and wants. 


Setting a Goal will Guide Your Entire Renovation

Choosing to renovate your home is no small decision. Setting goals from the start will guide the entire process and ensure you get exactly what you need. As you consider why a home renovation is the right choice for you, write down your goals and keep them handy so you can refer back to them as you make your decision. 

  • Why do you want to renovate?
    A new baby on the way might spark a need for functional storage space or for a guest suite so that the grandparents can have a space of their own close to your family – think about what’s motivated this need now. 
  • What do you want to achieve?
    How will a renovation help you? Consider what you currently have and what you’d need to add or change. 
  • What will the space be used for?
    If you’re in need of more storage or more space to gather, the type of renovation you need will differ. 
  • When does this need to be completed by?
    Renovations can take time, have you given yourself enough time to achieve what you really want from this project?

Keeping your goals at the forefront will make for a smoother renovation, and ensure that the project doesn’t get off track – maintaining alignment with your budget and timeframe. 

When is it Time to Upcycle vs. Replace?

During a renovation, it’s great to use what you already have but there will always be some items that need replacing. As you budget for your upcoming renovation, consider what in your home is in need of an upgrade. 

  • Repairs & Replacements
    Identify items in your home that need to be replaced or repaired and add a little buffer room. There will be certain items that need to be replaced that you will be aware of in advance like shingles, exterior siding, the furnace or windows. Sometimes unexpected costs arise when we open walls and find outdated lead pipes – this is where the buffer comes in handy. 
  • Updates & Upgrades
    Take a look through your home for items that need to be updated. That 70s wallpaper didn’t stand the test of time and now’s the time to replace it with a fresh coat of paint. Perhaps your cabinets are in need of updating, your flooring needs refinishing or your decor needs an overhaul.

Make a list of your expected replacements, repairs and updates and leave a little extra wiggle room for things that might come up unexpectedly. This will allow to to prioritize your needs and wants, and ensure that your renovation goes smoothly.


Is it Functional?

It’s clear that drop-floors were designed pre-Roomba. As homes age, their functions often change, which means that what worked when the house was designed might not work for you now. 

  • Identify dysfunctional aspects of your home.
    What are the areas in your home that aren’t working for you now? Are there awkward, crowded areas that go unused? What about that old nook that collects junk? Or are you forced to eat off your lap while sitting on the couch because you don’t have room for a proper kitchen table? 
  • Identify seasonal needs.
    What’s a problem right now and what’s a problem throughout the year? As we move through the seasons some pain points will pop up throughout the year. You may not notice the size of the closet by the front door during the summer, but when the winter coats, boots & mittens come out… then your remember why it’s not working for you!  

Identifying these areas of your home will help you plan your home renovation, ensuring that your new space is functional and fits with your lifestyle. 


How Can a Home Renovation Improve Your Life?

Your house goes beyond functionality. It’s where you can relax and unwind after a long day at work, it’s where you can host dinner parties and movie nights for all your friends, and most importantly – it’s where you’ll watch your family grow. Your home should be the backdrop for your life. 

  • Identify areas that would enhance your lifestyle.
    Note the improvements that would positively impact your life and why. Maybe you want bigger windows so that you can enjoy more natural light, or a walk-in closet to keep all of your clothes organized – complete with a laundry shoot to decrease clutter, or maybe a dedicated play area for the kids would give you back some of your living space. 

Spend some time visualizing the areas of your home that would make living in it even better, this will help you ensure that your home renovation results in a space that is not only functional, but enjoyable as well.


Think About the Detailed Features You Want

Your home might have seemed functional upon first inspection but after living in it you may wish you had certain features that would make your life easier. 

  • Are there other opportunities for improvements and features that you would like to add? What about adding more electrical outlets, moving a register or adding a cable TV outlet?
  • Perhaps you could increase your energy efficiency while you’re at it. Replacing old windows, sealing doorways or changing how you light your home can all add money-saving benefits to your renovation.


Keep What You Love 

When you make a list of what you’d like to toss or upgrade, make sure you pay extra attention to what you love and want to keep. 

  • List all of the things you love about your home. If you want to keep pieces of its original character like the clawfoot tub, crown moulding or original hardwood floors, take note of these items and share them with your contractor. 


How will Your Home Look and Feel?

Once you’ve decided on how you space should function, you can focus on how your space should look

  • Architectural Details.
    What Architectural elements do you like? What will the exterior look like? Consider roofing, siding, stonework and overall design. How does that tie into what you’ll be keeping from the original design? On the interior, will you add beams, a fireplace, more windows, skylights or create an open-concept floor plan?
  • Amenities.
    Design goes beyond the look and feel of the room or exterior, it covers the amenities you use everyday. Are there specific appliances you’d like to add or change, furnishings to seat a certain number of people or electronics to enhance a certain room?
  • Beauty vs. Function.
    You want your home to look and feel like it’s yours, so don’t forget about the function of the design when you’re making your choices. Ask yourself what purpose each detail serves and decide whether it fits with your overall vision. 


Weighing Your Needs and Wants

When designing a new project it can be easy to get carried away with all of the bells and whistles, but what do you actually need for your home to work for you? 

  • Sort your needs from your wants. When you can easily tell the two apart, it makes it easier to keep your project within budget. 
  • Determine whether your needs justify the cost. Creative solutions can help you keep on track without going overboard. 


Financing Your Home Renovation

Renovating your home is investing in your family’s future. It’s an opportunity to increase the value of your home and to customize it to your lifestyle. It doesn’t come without cost, but if it’s done right you should see a return on investment. 

  • Assess if you can finance the project with your savings or if you’ll need to take out a home improvement loan. 
  • Keep your list of needs and wants close by so you can be conscious of your priorities.
  • Look for subsidies that the government offers for home improvement projects (i.e. Alberta Energy Efficiency Rebates or Canada’s Housing Benefits).


Know Your Neighbourhood Regulations and Bylaws

Depending on the neighbourhood or city you live in, you may have to abide by regulations and bylaws that could change or restrict your plans. 

  • Consult the rules and regulations for your community. This could include fire regulations, electrical, plumbing etc… 
  • Your home renovation contractor should know your area’s bylaws and regulations. When working with Melanson Homes, we file any needed permits on your behalf.


What you Stand to Gain the Most

Renovations and home improvements have significant benefits to the functionality and enjoyment of your home. 

  • Functionality. Home renovations make your space more functional, giving you exactly what you need.
  • Customizable. You are in charge! You can design your home renovation to fit with your needs and wants, creating a home that is unique from neighbours. 
  • Convenience. Saving you the time and expense of selling your current home and moving to a new home, renovations cost less than buying a new house. 
  • Value. Renovations give you a return on your investment by increasing the resale value on your home.


The Inconveniences of Home Renovations

The goal is that the end product is worth the inconveniences you may encounter throughout the process, just make sure you’re prepared for what they may be. 


  • Lifestyle Considerations:
    –  Some renovations may displace you from your home while they’re taking place. Think about where you’ll stay during the renovation, and if that will incur additional costs for hotel stays or home rentals.
    –  If you’re keeping some of your original furniture, consider where you’ll store it during the remodel.
    –  In some cases, the renovation may only disrupt a portion of your home, prepare to block off the construction areas to keep the construction crew, noise and dust separate from your living space.
  • Cost. Calculate the overall cost of the renovation so you can budget accordingly.
  • Neighbours. Be considerate of your neighbours and let them know that you’ll be doing a remodel that will include some disruptive construction.



Picking the Renovation for You

Now that you’ve decided what you want and why, you can narrow down the type of renovation that will suit your needs. 

  • Whole home 
  • Kitchen 
  • Bathroom
  • Single room 
  • Basement 
  • Exterior

Finding the Right Crew 

Renovations may test your patience so finding a contractor that knows and understands your needs is important. Here’s how to find a team you trust to do the job right. 

  • Research, get estimates and ask any questions you have.
  • Consider any red flags – like if they only accept cash, want you to get permits yourself, want payment up front or don’t provide you with a written contract.


Once you’ve tallied up the pros and cons of completing a renovation on your home and have decided exactly what your needs and wants are, it’s time to find a contractor that suits you. As you start you conversations, go over your checklist with your chosen contractor to show them how they can best serve you and your home.