July 30, 2012
The Demolition Man
August 31, 2012
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Old tools on a wooden table

You, like a lot of people, might wake up one morning and after having that first cup of coffee to clear the cobwebs from your mind, might notice that the newspaper is filled with ads and flyers about home renovations. Big box retailers with do-it-yourself products and small businesses offering to install just about anything from garage doors to new shingles for your roof. Do you ever think to yourself, do I need to renovate my home? Should I do it myself or should I call someone? Why should I renovate?

The first reason that we renovate, and the one that most people engage in, but rarely think about in terms of renovations, is maintenance. Repainting interiors, replacing old shingles, and refinishing your hardwood floors are all examples of maintenance. In the grand scheme of renovating, these projects are fairly inexpensive and do a lot to prevent costly repairs later on down the road. After all, our homes were not designed to last forever. Even using new materials that promise to be maintenance-free, your home with start to deteriorate if not looked after properly. This type of renovation is a must for all homeowners.

Some of these maintenance projects can be do-it-yourself in nature, but you have to outweigh the cost of hiring someone to do it with the value of your time. Do you really want to spend multiple weekends painting the interior of your house, or would you rather a painter come in and do a professional job in a fraction of the time? Could you afford to miss a few days of work because you threw out your back just to save a few bucks on the labour? What happens if you make a mistake in the installation? Big Box Retailers have been pushing the D-I-Y movement for years, and although you can get a lot of free advice on how to renovate your home, that advice doesn’t equal experience. Tackling a maintenance project with the free advice from a sales clerk might be okay for some people, but it’s a gamble that could cost you a lot of money if the project isn’t done correctly. Regardless of who does the maintenance, it’s something that must be done on an ongoing basis.

The second reason for renovating our home, falls in the form of upgrades and replacements. Upgrades and replacements are more than just maintenance. Usually, we upgrade because something does not meet our needs. An example of this would be upgrading our electrical system in our kitchen. If a house was built before small appliances became a common sight in kitchens, then your electrical system might not have the proper power to run all of these appliances. Some homes don’t even have enough places to plug in all of these devices. Usually an upgrade of this nature is done when replacing other areas of your kitchen, such as cabinets.

Keep in mind that lack of functionality is not the only reason to replace something. Style can be a huge influence on upgrading or replacing things in your home. Maybe your kitchen cabinets are functional but you just don’t like them. Perhaps your bathroom looks like it belongs in a museum of history. Replacing things in your home can fulfil a psychological or emotional need.

Upgrading is often more costly than simple maintenance, but the results can lead to savings in the long run. Replacing an old window with a more energy-efficient one is more expensive up front than maintaining the old window, but eventually the savings on your heating bill could outweigh that cost; not to mention the savings you might enjoy if your old window was leaking and causing issues in other areas. Upgrading can also lead to a more attractive home if you’re looking to sell it. Be realistic, however, when it comes to trying to increase the value of your home on the real estate market through renovating. Other factors, such as economic growth and property location, can be just as important to the value of your home as how much money you spend upgrading it.

The final reason that we renovate is remodelling. Instead of just replacing something, you are making a significant change to your home. Examples of this nature of project include removing interior walls, tearing down an existing structure, adding an addition to your home, or redesigning a room from scratch. These, of course, are the most expensive kinds of renovations and they are almost never taken up without careful thought and planning and they are almost never done by a do-it-yourselfer. Professional contractors are a requirement. Remodelling is most often done because of a change in lifestyle.

As we get older, our lifestyle and needs change. These changes often mean that our living space needs to be altered to accommodate us better. Some of the changes we go through are: getting older and experiencing reduced mobility, additions to our family, both children and elderly family members, and career changes. Our perfect home can suddenly become less ideal when a change in our lifestyle presents itself.

Take the case of entering your golden years. During this time, you’ve probably set down some roots in your neighbourhood and feel comfortable in the house you live in. However, you’ve noticed that getting into and out of your bathtub is harder than is used to be; never mind that your main bathroom is on the second floor of your house. Doing laundry is also difficult because the washing machine is in the basement and you typically change your clothes upstairs. You could consider moving into an assisted care facility where your needs can be looked after, but this option is not for everyone. Perhaps it’s time to look at renovating your home so that these important issues can be addressed.

Whether you are maintaining, upgrading, or remodelling, the reason for renovating and the decisions to renovate are ultimately yours. Should you do maintenance? Always. Should you look into upgrading or even remodelling your home? Definitely. Your home is not just four walls where you make meals and spend time away from work. Your home is a reflection of you, your family, and your lifestyle, and as these elements change, so should your home. Through renovations, you can continually meet your living needs and be happy with the place you call home.