Follow these tips for a successful renovation

By Lanny McInnes
Date Posted: January 9, 2021

The beginning of a new year is often a time to reflect on the past and look at things from a fresh perspective. Many take this time to set out their “New Year’s resolutions”, the steps they plan to take to make this year better than the one before it. One aspect of our day to day lives that many Manitobans have considered making changes to over the past year has been the functionality of their homes. As you make plans for 2021, you may be looking at giving your homes a “fresh start” with a renovation project or makeover but you aren’t sure how to get started or who to turn to for advice. The MHBA has some tips that will help you get your project planning underway:

Know why you want to renovate:

What problems are you trying to solve? What is the purpose of your renovation? For instance — your bathroom may be cramped; you may be working from home far more often now and need a dedicated work space; you need more storage space in the kitchen; or there is no place for the children to do their remote learning under your supervision. Now may be the perfect time to transition a space for a new use.

Have a plan:

Have a clear focus on what must be included in your project, as well as any other features you would like to include if your budget allows. Which renovation items are must haves, and which ones would be nice to have, but are not essential?

Keep it simple:

Whether you want to build on to your home, change roof lines or reconfigure interior space, consult with a professional renovator on the impact of design on construction and budget.

Select a RenoMark Renovator:

Look for a professional RenoMark renovator. The RenoMark symbol tells you that your contractor has agreed to abide by the MHBA’s renovation-specific Code of Conduct.

Check references:

Ask about the renovator’s experience. Ask for references and check them out. Many renovators have design professionals or architects they work with. Check social media reviews and other resources to see if they have a record of reliability.

Get a written contract:

When you make your decision to hire a professional renovator, get it in writing. Include the scope of work, the exact price including a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, and any instruction for protecting parts of the house not under construction. It is important to avoid any significant changes during construction because this may cause delays and add extra costs. Avoid renovators who offer to do work without a contract. This type of renovator may not be paying provincial worker’s compensation coverage or carrying adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.

Set a realistic budget:

Decide as early as possible how much money you want to spend. Speak to your lender and discuss the amount you can reasonably afford and the most suitable financing options. Remember — your budget should cover everything that may result from the renovation, such as draperies, blinds, furniture, and appliances.

Building permits:

Generally, a building permit is required for renovations that involve changes to the structure or systems of your home. Ensure your renovator includes all required permits as part of your agreement.

An Energy Efficient Renovation:

Renovation offers many opportunities to make a home healthier and more energy-efficient. Consider these options during the planning process.


Lanny McInnes is the President & CEO of the Manitoba Home Builders’ Association.