Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CBC Radioactive - improving, selling, renovating your home and avoiding scams

Yesterday on CBC Radioactive, Peter Brown and I discussed what many Canadians consider to be their most valuable asset - their home. And whether one considers it an actual investment or not (to be used to fund one's retirement), we can't ignore that it's still an asset to be managed and potentially for profit or at the very least, increased enjoyment.

If you're thinking of renovating your home this spring, consider asking yourself why? Is it to sell, simply update for your own pleasure, to increase it's value or all of the above? If you're selling in the near future, your reno's should be focused on what will bring maximum value to a potential buyer. For example, installing a hot tub typically isn't a selling point but if you're staying in your home and it's something you'd enjoy immensely, go for it.

Here's a great article on things to consider if you are in fact wishing to sell:

If your dilemma is to move to a newer home or renovate your existing one, keep in mind the costs of moving which experts estimate as high as 10% of the current value of your home, not to mention the stress of the experience. Here's another timely article on the subject:

Obviously, the least expensive and simplest improvement is a fresh coat of paint. Keep in mind too if you're selling, there are things that are assumed to be part of your home and what's called an "upgrade" which can be used as a marketing or selling feature. For example, a decent floor, shower, etc. is expected in your home. But hardwood, ceramic tile or a steam shower would all be considered upgrades.

If you're renovating and contracting the work yourself, consider the following carefully to avoid schemers and unscrupulous companies:
  • Use only contractors that have WCB (Workman's Compensation Coverage), liability insurance and possibly are listed with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Ask to see proof. If a company doesn't have this coverage and a fall or injury occurs by a worker on your property, you could be personally liable.
  • If Bob's Roofing stops by your home offering a "must buy today" sales pitch, ask for his brochure and do a little research. Never pay for work up front not matter how good the offer seems.
  • Look for a company with a store-front if possible. That way, if you have any problems in the future, there's a physical location to visit. Also, if a renovator skips town and isn't reputable, your warranty might not be valid. For example, if the shingles you purchased for your new roof have a 35 year warranty but weren't installed properly, a future problem may not be covered.
  • When asked for a deposit once you've agreed to a project, a reasonable amount to expect is 25% - 33% and the company must be licensed for taking a deposit. If after your research you're still unsure, pay the deposit with your VISA or MasterCard. That way, if they skip town or don't show up, you're backed by the guarantee of the credit card companies. And if the reno guy doesn't accept credit cards, consider dealing with someone else.


Lastly, if you'd like to save a few bucks by doing some of your reno's yourself, go for it, but be honest about your ability and time constraints. Labour is usually 50 - 100% of the cost of most projects. But don't waste good materials (such as hard wood or ceramic tile) if you're unsure. It could cost you much more to fix your mistakes. Consider tackling simpler projects such as painting for a start. And if you're replacing your kitchen floor for example, you might desire to remove the existing floor yourself, saving quite a few dollars of labour, but bringing in the pro's to install the tile. If you need help with your project past that of the home shows, try for a plethora of videos on most home improvement projects.

Tune in next Monday when I'm back on my regular day on CBC Radioactive. Happy home improving!

1 comment:

Simon said...

That is great advice. I've seen it happen to people I know!!