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So you’ve decided to go ahead and renovate your home. I hope you have thought long and hard about this decision, plus taken my helpful hints into consideration before starting out. Home renovations are a major undertaking. They put your life in turmoil, physically, emotionally, financially, and even socially. The hope is that at the end of the day, it is all worth it. And hopefully it is. But sometimes that depends upon who you get to do the job for you.

Here is a list of potential people you could get to take care of your home renovation projects;

What is your relationship with your Father-in-law? Is it wise to turn your back on him when he has power tools in hand?

  • Yourself
  • You & your father and/or father-in-law
  • Your son & his friends
  • Your unemployed neighbour that has some time on his hands (and has hung a picture or two at his house)
  • A contractor that your Aunt Sally recommended
  • A contractor that you found in the Yellow Pages

Some of these people might be good options. Some may not be. Does your Dad really know what he is doing, despite his insistence that he wants to help? Can you get along with your father-in-law long enough to get the project completed? Does your son and his friends have enough experience to deal with any potential problems they might come across? How about that neighbour? Will he keep up with your project if a new job comes his way? You might be in better hands with a contractor, and recommendations can go a long way, but aren’t always reliable. All of these options might be feasible, or might spell disaster. It depends upon the extent of your home renovation project, and more importantly on the competency of the people whom you get to do the job.

If you can hire someone cheaply to work for you, isn’t that worthwhile though, you might wonder.  Sometimes, but not always. What might seem like a deal, might end up costing you more in the long run if problems arise. Regardless of a person’s ability, problems can and do arise during home renovations. Here are just a few problems that you might come across;

How skilled are the people you are thinking about hiring? Will they do more harm or good?

  • Costs become more than originally anticipated
  • Timelines get extended beyond the first date
  • Contractors walk away from the job
  • Materials don’t fit (ie. counters too long, space for toilet too small, etc.)
  • Workmanship is shoddy
  • Job is not completed

I am sure that you have heard a few horror stories of your own. Before settling on anyone to undertake home renovations to your house, make sure they are the right people for the job. Check to see if they have insurance, references, a record with the Better Business Bureau (good or bad), guarantees on their workmanship, warranties on any items installed, and sufficient trades that they work with to get the job done. You should also make sure that they have time to complete the job at hand. It is bad enough living through a home renovation, let alone having to extend living in a mess because there are unforeseen delays to the job.

Friends and relatives are sometimes better kept in that class, versus walking the slippery slope of erstwhile contractor

So before you hire Uncle Seamus and his retired buddy Larry to create your dream “Man Cave”, decide if it is worth the headache that might ensue. Will that project ever reach fruition, and will it end up looking like what you envisioned it would? Even if you are paying in beer, is that really the cheapest option?

Just saying…


Are you tired of looking at your chipped counters? Are the kitchen cabinets older than you are? When was the last time those shower doors have come completely clean? Did your kids just learn that toilet handles don’t always need to be jiggled when they had a sleepover at their friend’s house last week? Does this sound familiar – You can’t make toast, run the microwave, and run the ceiling fan all at the same time. Do you have to seat people in the kitchen, dining room AND living room when they come over for family dinners? Do they have to enter the house through the back door, because chancing the front porch just isn’t worth it anymore?

Time for Home Renovations?

Do these problems sound familiar? Have you had enough? Is it time for a few home renovations at your house?


Before you grab that sledge-hammer to knock down walls in the dining room, the chisel to knock off loose tiles in the bathroom, or the pry bar to push the porch off the house, take some time to make a plan. And then take some more time to discuss it with a few more people. Namely, your spouse, your financial advisor, a contractor, a designer, an electrician, a plumber, a drywaller, a real estate agent, your house insurance company, and the municipality in which you live (think permits, bylaws, etc).

Home Renovations = STRESS

Now, are you still ready to undertake a home renovation project? Good for you! Did you go and see your therapist for some quick tips on how to handle the stress that comes along with home renos too? You should, as a change in living conditions (ie, trying to live in the middle of a renovation project) comes in at #28 on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. That is out of 43. And you have to keep in mind that no matter how easy-going a person you are, a home renovation project is bound to put some stress on your finances, on your amount of free time, on your eating habits, possibly on your sleeping habits, and more than likely on the number of arguments with your spouse. Those rank at #16, #36, #40, #38, #19, which add up to a moderate risk of becoming ill in the near future.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tackle a home renovation project though. It can add value to your home from a resale perspective. It brings you pride in ownership afterwards from a job well done. It improves your living conditions once the dust has settled and been erased from memory.

A written design provides a blueprint for smooth renovations

If the pluses outweigh the temporary drawbacks of taking on a home renovation project, then make a plan and get started. Make sure you get at least three written estimates from contractors for the work to be done, check references for those contractors, write up a contract before the work starts, have a lawyer look over the contract before signing anything for major work to be done, obtain any necessary permits, look into whether you are eligible for any potential tax credits, check warranties and guarantees for the work to be done, and think about anything else that you may come up against.

And my best advice to you if you can afford it; move out while renovations are going on to improve the chances that you will survive the mess that goes with a project of any magnitude. Your sleep, comfort, and sanity make it a worthwhile consideration. Good luck!

Have you thought about renovating your home recently? Haven’t we all! Sometimes being a home owner feels like you are constantly going from one to-do list to another. If your list of renos is a mile long, where do you start? With a complete bathroom makeover, or slapping a fresh coat of paint in the bedroom? Are you aware that some renovations illicit a higher return of investment than others? You might be surprised at where your money is best spent and when you should shy away from a potential home renovation project.

backyard swimming pool


  • If you were dreaming about a new swimming pool during the heat waves we experienced this past summer, think again. Adding a pool to your property will net you one of the lowest returns on your investments – from 10-40%, if you are lucky
  • Likewise, that skylight that you might be coveting right about now, when sunshine is at its lowest, won’t bring in the big bucks either – only a 0-25% return. Ouch!
  • Now who am I to poo-poo a designer kitchen? No way, but before you order all that granite, take a look at your neighbourhood and assess whether that new built-in wine bar will really add much value, compared to what else is on offer around you. While a kitchen upgrade certainly is one of the top runners for returns on investment, if your renovation includes over-the-top items like a walk-in fridge, Vulcan oven or ornate columns, don’t expect that you will recoup your costs for the project. The same goes for pretty much any top of the line renovation projects, so take a double-think about ordering that golden toilet, just so you can feel like royalty. If you put the Joneses to shame, you will quickly find that it just don’t pay.
  • What about adding a layer of asphalt to your driveway? While you will certainly appreciate the look of it, a potential home buyer won’t look twice at your dream driveway. Neither will they be blown away by an interlocking brick path or drive, wood fence or even landscaping. All your hard-earned money will only net you a 25-50% ROI.
  • Even projects that you consider a must-do, might not amount to an increase in your over-all home value. A new roof doesn’t bring much return, even though it might be necessary. People just expect it to be there. Same thing goes for central air conditioning. While it is certainly appreciate on hot days, no one even thinks about it in the dead of winter. That isn’t to say that you should not tackle these home improvement projects. Completely the opposite in fact, but just don’t expect that it will increase your home’s value and the likelihood of it equating to a higher ROI isn’t great. Sorry!

Remember that deciding to tackle a home renovation project is a personal decision. Ultimately, if you feel a project adds value to your home for your uses, then go for it. While you are living in your home, YOU are the judge. But if you are thinking about a move in the near future, then do a little research before you shell out the big bucks for a home renovation project.

So my wife might think I’m crazy, but as she still speaks to me after the last two FOLLOW THE FLIPS, I thought it was about time for FOLLOW THE FLIP 3! And boy, have I found a nice home to renovate this time. As you might recall, I gave you a little precursor pic, but didn’t let slip with too many details. Are you curious as to what I’ve found yet? I’m dying to share it with you, so let’s take a look;



Follow the Flip on Philip

Let’s go back in time to look at the origins of my newest find. Way back in 1886, the walls went up on this 3-bedroom bungalow at 504 Philip St. in London, Ontario. In other parts of the world, Sigmund Freud opened a practice in Vienna, modern field hockey was born, the London Times published the world’s first classified ad, Apache leader Geronimo surrendered during the last major US-Indian war, the first Civil Rights Act was passed in the US and Coca Cola was born (cocaine included!).

They were exciting times.


The Sunroom could use some TLC

Fast forward 126 years and this little house has seen some transformations. It now has aluminum siding, as seen in the above picture. There is a sunroom on the back of the house, that has seen better days. There’s different flooring in every room of the house. That might not bother you, but as far as aesthetics go, I will be changing that fact in the process of transforming this dated domicile into a thing of beauty. Uniformity goes a long way into the resale value of a home, in my opinion.


Rooftop Renos on Philip St

So what else will I be doing? Paint will be applied. Landscaping will be attended to. That nasty looking sunroom is on the list too. And that problem chimney? It has already been looked after by these two handy guys. We’ve got it all covered in my latest Follow the Flip! So make sure to follow along as I transform this historic house into a charming home once again.


See you next time, for my FOLLOW THE FLIP 3!

Driveway Before

Ah driveways! Often such an under-valued part of the home. The driveway over on my FOLLOW THE FLIP house on Charlotte street previously was a mix of gravel and dirt. Who am I kidding? It was mostly weeds and dirt. It was far from a selling feature of the house and was desperately in need of a change. So goodbye weeds! Sayonara dirt! Now there are smart-looking pavers lining the drive that leads to your new home.


Haven’t you swung by to take a look at the finished product yet? What are your waiting for?! Get on that! Call me and I will make sure you get a private viewing today!!

So what do you think?


Driveway After

While it might have been one of the last things to get done over at Charlotte, it certainly has its place on the list of home renovations. It might be the last thing on your mind over at your house, as far as home renovation projects go, but a fresh driveway adds curb appeal to any home. What does your driveway look like and say about your home? Is it neat and tidy, or heaved, cracked and full of weeds? If you are at a point where your driveway is more pothole than pavement or the cracks in the cement are leaving you crazy, perhaps it is time for you to resurface yours. So what exactly are the options for surfacing a driveway anyway? Let’s take a look at a few of the driveway surfacing options, along with their pros and cons.




Asphalt Paving

  • PRO:
    • Cheaper than concrete
    • Easy surface for snow removal
    • Can last up to 25-30 years, if maintained
  • CON:
    • Prone to cracks and heaving
    • Needs to be resealed every year or two
    • Cannot be driven on for 2-3 days after sealing

Cement Drive

  • PRO:
    • Can be stamped or stained to match your home’s brickwork
    • Easy surface for snow removal
    • Lasts a long time
  • CON:
    • Most expensive option
    • Prone to cracks and heaving
    • More difficult to repair when cracks do appear

Gravel Driveway

  • PRO:
    • Very cost effective
    • Less maintenance and repairs
    • Little, if any worry about frost heaves
  • CON:
    • Snow removal is more difficult (not snow blower friendly)
    • Ruts can appear
    • Can appear dirty

Interlocking Brick

  • PRO:
    • Will last a long time
    • If repairs are necessary, they are relatively cheap, as individual bricks/pavers can be replaced
    • Choice in colour and design
  • CON:
    • If not prepared properly, weeds can creep up between pavers
    • If the surface is not flat, snow removal can be hampered
    • Bricks can be shifted by tree roots, the elements and vehicle parking, causing an unsightly appearance


While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it is a starting point to let you know what is out there for options. Unless you are re-surfacing your driveway yourself, make sure that you get a few estimates and weigh the options of what surface might work best for you.


Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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