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Planning To Do Some Renovations?

Spring is synonymous with home renovations and their associated horror stories, due to inexperienced or deceitful contractors and trades people, or those do-it-yourselfers who don’t know what they’re doing. Both situations can result in misery and extra cost.

My family is currently undergoing a major renovation, both inside and out. We have an excellent contractor and things have gone reasonably smoothly, but avoiding all problems is impossible. It’s not what happens but how you deal with it, and homeowners could benefit from remembering the Seven Deadly Sins and their corresponding Seven Heavenly Virtues.

1. Sloth:Consider laziness – not doing your research – to be the ultimate sin. What are the building permit requirements for your area? How will local building codes affect what you want to do? What do you need to know about construction and renovation products? Which materials are the most durable? What maintenance will they require? How do you know a good contractor or tradesperson from a bad one? What jobs are you capable of doing and which should you hire out for?

Diligence:Due diligence is your responsibility as the homeowner. If you don’t know where to start or who to call, see the resources listed at the end of this article.

2. Lust:Uncontrolled spending and champagne tastes will result in your downfall unless you have unlimited funds. Renovations often run over budget. Price quotes are called “estimates” for a reason. Renovations are more of a gamble than new construction. You don’t know what you might discover until the work begins.

Chastity:This corresponding virtue might seem outlandish regarding your home, but consider that the second dictionary

FROM START TO FINISH:By doing some research and keeping some tips in mind, a renovation project should go much smoother.

meaning is simplicity of style. Marble countertops and imported ceramic tile may appeal to you, but there are plenty of beautiful and durable finishes at a fraction of the cost. No matter what your finances, make a budget. Remember to add a cushion. You need to know how much room you have to manoeuvre should changes be required. Regular updates on the work and good research on all costs (labour, materials, finishing, taxes, etc.) will help.

3. Greed:Do you really need to call your contractor, tradesperson or supplier several times a day, every time you think of something you want to discuss? This shows poor organizational skills, and takes them away from their work.

Charity:A charitable attitude to others’ work and personal schedules will go further than harassing them. Write down questions and concerns as they come up and then discuss a number of items at once.

4. Wrath:Losing your temper is likely to happen if you have hired poorly, taken on a job for which you have little experience, or not done enough research.

Patience:This goes a long way to solving unavoidable problems and keeping your relationships – business and domestic – intact.

5. Gluttony:Are you trying to do more than you can fit into your time, budget and patience?

Temperance:Mastering your time, money and expectations through self-control is difficult without practising the four previous virtues.

6. Envy:Basing your renovation on someone else’s dreams or style can lead to unhappiness.

Kindness:When making choices, consider the interests, desires and comfort of those living in the home.

7. Pride:Egos obstruct good communication when we fear appearing ignorant or when we refuse to admit a mistake.

Humility:An unassuming nature helps your contractor, tradesperson or supplier see where you require more information in order to make a good choice.

While incorporating these virtues into your plans will not make renovations foolproof, the process will be less stressful for all involved.

For information on renovation questions go to:

Manitoba Home Builders web page: http://www.homebuild ers.mb.ca/consumer_renova tion_general. html,

Manitoba Building Officials web page:

http://www.mboa.mb.ca/faq. php,

Federal government web page:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cpsspc/house-domes/decor/con struct-eng. php,

Consumer Reports for ratings on products such as lights, appliances, paint and much more:

www.consumerreports.com (click on “Canada Extra” at the bottom of the page).

– Barb Galbraith writes from Oakville, Manitoba

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