10 Things We Learned From Our Home Renovation

Going through a home renovation can be a tough and daunting task no matter how many times you’ve dared to tackle a project. There will always be unexpected surprises.. especially in older homes and sometimes things simply just don’t go as you had planned. This was our first crack at remodelling an older home and the crazy part.. the majority of the project was completed with us living several provinces AWAY eek!!  So I thought I’d share our tips + some information on this latest project for those who are about to embark on the fun ride that is a renovation!



1. Do Your Own Homework

Since we were doing this from afar we initially we’re just taking people’s word for it. Some of the contractors were recommendations to us, so we went in believing we could trust their quotes and hoping they were being honest with us. BUT jeez!! The first two quotes we received had us second guessing our choice of home, considering generalling the project from afar.. (BIG no-no!!) and even waiting until we moved to start the process.. Gaaahh just the thought makes me cringe thinking of juggling two little ones in that construction zone!!

2. Shop Around 

We knew there were quality products for decent prices out there, so we did our own shopping around. Contractors like to stick with their own guys, they trust their work and we completely understand that, but.. spending 40K strictly on cabinets and countertops just didn’t jive with us. We researched a few brands we knew of, looked for local shops that sold those products and went from there. This certainly takes up more time, but by taking that time to take correct measurements, and pricing of product we at least knew the value of the product going into our home and it helped build an honest relationship with our contractor.

3. Ask LOTS of Questions

Take the time to walk through your home to discuss your plans, possible concerns, get your contractor’s insight and ask as MANY questions as possible. There will always be questions you didn’t think of so try to be as thorough as you can!

4. Accept That Changes Happen

This is unfortunately inevitable and unexpected things can happen.. especially renovating an older home, you’re almost always guaranteed to find some goodies buried in those walls! We allotted what we called our ‘bullshit’ funds that was a budget put aside for things we did not account for or issues we may run in to and well.. aren’t we glad we did!

5. It Won’t Be Perfect

Doing this from afar, we had to accept from the beginning that this project may not end up exactly as we had envisioned it and frankly, I think that would have been the case even if we were around to check in frequently. There will always be something you’re not entirely happy with or wish you had done differently.

6. Take Notes on EVERYTHING!!

The hubs was the front man on this project and (don’t tell him..) but I had my doubts he would be able to keep on top of things. Surprisingly he was very thorough though, constantly checking in via email and text (crucial to have things in writing!!) asking for photos, FaceTiming our contractor to ensure things were as they should before they took the next step of the renovation. If you’re able to poke in every now and then this step may not be as vital, but I HIGHLY suggest having your wants and needs in WRITING, and taking your own photos because, something is always bound to be missed, forgotten in the chaos or they’re just simply not listening to your wants and needs.

7. Review Your Quotes + Keep All Receipts

This is tough as like I mentioned above with older home renovations you never know what is buried in those walls that can equal to some pricey adjustments. But before we started this renovation we insisted on being quoted thoroughly and preferred to have budgets set out for each stage.. demolition, framing + supplies, electrical, plumbing, drywall, mudding + tapping, paint, flooring.. the list could go on. We did our best to stick with those budgets and kept all receipts for any purchases we made for easy returns if necessary. What may look great in store and visually in our minds did not always fit best in our home.

8. It’s Going To Take Longer Than You Think

Our flights are booked, movers are scheduled, routes are planned for hub’s + grandpa’s journey across Canada.. we get a call from our contractor two weeks before we are set to take off.. ‘sooo how set in stone are your plans in coming here!?’ Why we didn’t learn from this after our last renovation I don’t know, but we again moved into an incomplete renovation. So in our experience always give an extra week.. or four in our case. There will ALWAYS be setbacks.

9. Hire ONE Person to Manage Your Project 

We toyed with the idea of generalling this renovation from afar.. and though we did butt heads on occasion with our contractor I am so glad we decided to use one and use one that had great references and a solid team behind him. Though we have lived through a couple home renovations and had a good sense of the process, having one person to manage the project and oversee the work being done in our opinion is definitely the way to go! Their knowledge of the process surpasses anything you may think you know and they always have their own ‘secret’ tricks of the trade to make your home a unique one.

10. Accept That Your Home is Going to Be Dusty..

This.. this I forgot about!! No matter how many times you think you’ve vacuumed it all up and wiped it all down THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE!! So just a heads up..


No matter how many times you have completed a renovation big or small there will always be ‘surprises’ around every corner! The best thing you can do for yourself though is to do your homework, research, research, research and ask LOTS of questions.

I’m sure many of you have completed this process and have learned some very valuable tips along the way.. so if you have make sure to share them in the comment section below so we can all learn from your experiences.. dare I say I’m sure this will not be our last project.. !!

Good Luck!!

Andreana xo

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