We are constantly bombarded with technology. Emails, home décor and design sites all claiming their own expertise, well intentioned friends and family sharing what they have found online, there is so much information for a home owner to consider when renovating. The reality is simple. As much as you might LOVE a certain look, there are limitations to what will “work” and will “look great” in any given space. The best advice is to go to the experts. As well intentioned as family and friends are, unless they are professionals in the industry, it’s best to listen and thank them for their input and get a second Professional’s opinion.
I’ve been working in the residential home industry in Winnipeg for over 20 years. In that time, I have seen some fabulous renos and some total blunders. As well-meaning as family and friends can be, remember it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money! They love a design and think you should try it. If it doesn’t look good – no harm done… What some are really saying is you be the guinea pig and if I like it, maybe I will spend my own money! There are basic rules that we, as Designers and Decorators use to ensure we actually improve your home and increase it value and appeal!
The Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) is a great place to start for ideas. You need a realistic budget to determine what you should spend on your renos. The AIC can help you determine what is a reasonable amount to spend on a renovation so that you get your money back when you sell your home! Appraisers are the professionals that determine your homes actual value – regardless of what you have spent to purchase it, or renovate it. The value they determine (based on comparable properties in your immediate neighborhood) is what the banks use as your home value for mortgages! It is THE VALUE! This is where I like to start in determining what renovations should be done to update a home. It also determines how much we should look at spending and PREVENTS a home owner from overspending on renovations!
Most of the websites that email you and your friend’s ideas are out to sell. Whether it is advertising they are selling and entice people to their websites to see their advertisers or they are selling products, they want you to come to their site. They do not care about the value of your home, or whether your renovation will work well for you and your family. The only thing they care about is selling their product/service. Sure they may be full of pictures with great ideas but ideas are only as good as the space they are implemented in. I cannot count the number of times we meet someone who wants a major bathroom reno and show me a picture of a 250 sf bathroom with all deluxe fixtures and tile. Then they take me to their 80 sf bathroom and ask me how I would fit everything they want in the space?! There just isn’t the same amount of square footage to work with! We either have make the bathroom larger or scale down the project for the space.
Another huge issue we see again and again is the cost factor. When you are dealing with websites the cost is relative to the area the picture was taken and where the job was done. This could be in Minnesota or Phoenix or Vancouver or Hawaii! The same project will cost different based on the location! Materials that are readily available in one location may need to be shipped to another. This adds additional expense. When we start comparing US $$ to CND $$ there is a huge cost difference for many building products. When you add the exchange rate, shipping, duty etc.… the same products can cost considerably more here. That is why it is critical to compare LOCAL pricing and not INTERNET pricing.
Another important feature of online shopping to be aware of is size. Many products come in different sizes. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s a “great deal”! There have been many times when clients have ordered their own materials. When the product arrives, they are stunned to find the product was much smaller than what they were expecting! Same product, smaller size, lower cost! It is critical to go over the specifications of a product before you order. Everything from the features to the actual dimensions should be compared to make sure you are getting a better price for the EXACT SAME product! Your Designers and Decorators deal with this on a regular basis. We know what to check before the order is placed. Furthermore, we may be much more familiar with certain products in our local market that you have not seen online. Many websites promise delivery in a few days or a week or 2. However, delivery can actually be 4-8 weeks out. This can have a significant impact on your renovation. Each market is unique and has unique aspects of climate and product type that works best in that market or situation.
Although websites and family and friends can be great for inspiration, a Professional will always be your best source of information for your particular local market. Whether planning a floor plan, determining a realistic budget for the scope of your project, or sourcing product for you, we will have a much more encompassing approach than any website. When you want a Professional job – go to the local Professionals!