How To Survive Home Renovations

Homewatch Newsletter Archive


Home renovations are a commonplace activity in the city of Toronto, especially given the age of many of the homes in question, and the growing phenomenon for Buyers to buy homes in their current price point, with the intention to place their own personal stamp on them over time.

But there are many pitfalls (emotional, financial, and otherwise) that can be encountered along the journey. Home renovations can be particularly hard on relationships.

Here is a comprehensive pre-renovation list that can help you get organized, but also serve as a middle ground for discussion – so that you can have all the important conversations before the hammers (and potentially figurative fists) get swinging in a bid to maintain both domestic and relationship harmony.


Find Mutual Ground

Individually go through home design magazines or online sites like and flag rooms which appeal to you, making a note of what you especially liked. This includes all design elements, like style, colour palette or particular finishes. Then sit down together and review – looking for commonalities that can become the basis for a mutually appealing renovation.  If you’re hiring a designer or architect, do this in advance of your meeting.


Agree On Your Maximum/Minimum Budget

You no doubt have a ballpark budget in mind for your renovations. However, all renovations cost more than you intended, and may give cause to have a hard and soft budget (i.e. the cap- and then the definitive cap).

 Some expenses will be for surprises that you didn’t know existed until the walls are opened up. And others will be because you keep upgrading your materials and fittings because it’s ‘only a few hundred dollars more’. Be diligent in your selections as it’s easy to see a reno cost run high. Rule of thumb: always keep 20 percent of your budget for a contingency fund to manage the surprises, and to take the sting out of the cost. If there are none (most unlikely), then you have a tidy, well-earned sum to use for splurges


Treat Yourself And Each Other

 I always ask couples to purchase – at the beginning of their reno – one item each that is a ‘dream item’ within a mutually agreed budget. Love soaking in the tub? Buy the perfect one. Want that 6-burner gas range? Buy it first. This way, as the reno unfolds and all hell breaks loose – you each can cling to knowing that special item will be in your place at the end – and give you the motivation to work thru knowing your dream item is already purchased and not being cut from your renovation hell.


Count On It Taking Twice As Long

No renovation unfolds in a timely fashion. Delays are common. The plumber quits. The materials are on back order. The weather doesn’t co-operate. Every possibility may – or will occur, so count on it taking longer. Give ample time and don’t set an unrealistic goal like ‘this should be done by Holiday’, for you may be celebrating under tarps and seething.


Include A Getaway In Your Renovation Budget

 We all have limited financial resources, but if you want your relationship to survive, you have to build in some escape time. Budget for a spa weekend, a road trip, or even a long weekend visiting family two-thirds thru your reno. Give yourselves ‘date nights’ where you don’t talk about the project. Do whatever you need to do but remove yourselves from the environment and get grounded on different turf.

Even though it may seem wasteful to direct funds out of the house, this is non-negotiable. Living in or near an on-going reno will wear and tear on your relationship in a big way, so plan an escape.  Stress is a huge factor in breaking couples up, and you mustn’t underestimate the huge amount of stress that a renovation project entails.


Negotiate with Veto Power

You both have to like the renovation, which is difficult when disparate tastes are trying to create the perfect space. Be respectful of each other but employ your veto power until you mutually agree or – if necessary – trade off each other so you both can live with it. But be careful this doesn’t build into resentment.

 In my past renovations, when my partner and I came to a standstill on finding the ideal gas stove, for instance, he’d choose his favourite three and I’d choose mine – and then we’d compare
and select the one that most closely matched our choices. The art of compromise is a huge factor for both a successful renovation and relationship.


One Bling Item

As a realtor, I’m always looking for each room to have one bling item that steals the show and makes the room memorable in the eyes of the Buyers. It could be an amazing light fixture, beautiful flooring,  or a dazzling colour. The same applies to renovating. Your property doesn’t have to be filled with expensive-everything to look good. Sometimes it just takes one special item in a room to steal the show and elevate the rest. Keep this in mind when you’re selecting your cohesive finishes.


Leave Room for Furnishings

It is one thing to renovate your kitchen, but once it’s done your breakfast table and chairs may look dumpy on completion. Remember that renovating a space is not only about the finishes and fittings but the contents. Keep in mind when you’re planning your reno which of your existing furnishings will work and which might have to be replaced. Sort this out in advance to avoid disappointment.



Are you apprehensively about to embark on home renovations, but unsure where to start? Are you daunted by the time, money and relationship pressures that can come with such a project? At, we consider all parts of your homeowner experience- from all dimensions and vantage points. Our experience and success means that we have sage, prudent and practical advice to dispense, to assist you to achieve housing harmony. We’re here to help!


~ Steven and the Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –


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