Renovation realitiesPublished on October 23, 2015

  • Photo by: Nicholas Downward

  • Photo by: Nicholas Downward

It was 4 a.m. on a Tuesday when I was woken up by the cat crying to get out. I slowly rolled off the couch and landed with a thump on the floor, then crawled over to the patio doors and let it out. With every bone in my body aching and my head ringing from the constant hum of the refrigerator, I quietly returned to my makeshift bed, propped up my pillows and stared aimlessly at the ceiling. My wife and I had not slept in our bedroom for 10 days; we were in the middle of a renovation. 

Despite the best efforts of our contractor, there was a grey layer of dust on everything in the house and our bedroom, my only sanctuary, was completely covered. Our ensuite bathroom with its blue and yellow tiles had been demolished and only the original studs, plus a seemingly endless supply of dust and debris, remained. 

  We were into the second week of our bathroom renovation. Dark days! All the excitement and anticipation of our pending bathroom renovation had been replaced by a bottomless list of decisions: What tile should we install? How high should we place it, half wall or full? Should we use natural stone or ceramic? What did the neighbours do? Do we really need the most expensive toilet on the market? What is the difference between a $1,000 tub and the $4,000 one? What does our budget look like?

Despite having a detailed drawing, many very important decisions seemed to be completely random and rushed. Deep ?breath . . . 

Fortunately our contractor was both patient and resourceful. He offered a variety of products and options for the bathroom while trying to respect our original design and budget. For instance, we did decide to take the natural limestone tile right to the ceiling in order to create a bold statement for the space. Although this decision put a great deal of stress on our budget, with a few adjustments - such as a less expensive soaker tub and hardware - we were able to accommodate the change.

However, some things are not negotiable. We did get the most expensive toilet on the market and our rain showerhead is second to none - it actually feels like rain!

It's important to remember that renovations are never going to be easy. Despite our best-laid plans before the project even started, many major details still happened quickly and on the fly. So, I offer the following advice:

Work hard to stick to your budget, as it will always be tested.

Clearly communicate your expectations with your contractor. If something doesn't seem right, it's not!

Deal with things quickly to avoid larger setbacks.

Always hold back 10 per cent of your bill for 30 days. This will ensure that the job gets done and any problems will be dealt with prior to signing off.

Communication, patience, and civility go a long way towards ensuring successful completion ?of any renovation.

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