The Right Renovations

While there are no hard and fast rules to determine which renovations are best – the decision will depend on your personal needs – here’s a helpful list of top investments Plus: a guide to doing the work

  1. The kitchen – In the 1960’s, kitchens were small and isolated. There days, the kitchen has returned as the focal point of family life. It’s now common to see open-concept cooking areas the face onto the dining room. So if renovations are in the cards, consider the kitchen a must-do project. The materials you choose should be functional, durable and don’t forget, beautiful. (Tip – many of us love timeless things. Unfortunately, cupboards and flooring do not fall into this category – both will go out of style. So when it comes time to replace them, avoid spending money that would be better spent elsewhere. Putting $50,000 worth of renovations into a $150,000 house will never be worthwhile investment.)
  2. The bathroom – Like the kitchen, the bathroom was once small and functional. A large, modern bathroom is now de rigueur – and good investment. When you decide to get started check and update the plumbing, ventilation system and electrical wiring. It’s also important to assess what’s worth saving. If, for example you want to keep your ceramic tiles, make sure to check for humidity or water damage on the backing or wall. And don’t bother updating your bathroom fixtures if you like the architectural look of the current ones. (Tip – if you plan on making your bathroom bigger, be sure it’s in proportion with the other rooms in the house.)
  3. The basement – Finishing the basement allows you to increase the livable square footage of your home. And because this kind of home improvement can be done bit by bit over time – without disturbing your home life – it puts less pressure on the pocketbook. (Tip – before picking up a hammer, do some long-term planning for your casement. What kind of space will the family need in the coming years and how might this change in the future? At a basic level, make sure the ceiling height can accommodate all intended uses.)
  4. The Attic – Converting your attic into an extra room is another way to expand your livable space. Keep in mind that it will cost more to do this job than to finish a basement – you’ll most likely need to build a staircase and dormer window, and add insulation. You will also need to set aside money for the interior decoration. In the end, however, the attic option is still more affordable than building another storey… or buying a bigger house. (Tip – adding large dormer windows not only increases the livable space, it raises the ceiling height.)

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