Renovating a Newly Purchased Home

Recently we have received many calls from people who are looking to renovate or add on to a home they have purchased, but not yet moved into.  Most of the homeowners are looking to start the renovations as soon as they get ownership of the home, and complete the renovations before they move in.

It’s a great idea.  Renovations are completed while the house is empty, and you move into a newly refreshed space.

However, planning a renovation or house addition to a home you don’t own is more difficult than with a home that you own.  You do not have the benefit of looking at the space every day, and you can’t be constantly bringing in designers and contractors to view the new home.

In addition to the usual considerations when renovating or expanding, here are some additional items to consider for this type of a project.

Arrange Access in Advance – Often an offer to purchase will include the option to visit the house one or two times prior to the closing date of the purchase.  The more complex the project, the more access you should try to arrange.  Three or four visits would be beneficial.

Pictures/Videos – Take many pictures of the area that is being remodeled, as well as other areas that may be affected such as the electrical panel.   Video can be helpful as well.  Start at the front door, and video all the way to the room that will be renovated.  You should also talk while the video is being done, and describe the work that needs to be done or specific items that require attention.  Pictures and videos can be uploaded to a website for easy access and sharing.

Measurements – Measurements are crucial in every renovation or house addition project, so get precise measurements of the room or rooms that will be renovated.  For larger projects, have a designer or architect do the measuring.

Selecting a Contractor – You’ll want to select a contractor prior to the closing date.  You can send pictures and videos to contractors and determine if they are interested in the project.  Use one of your visit dates to bring your preferred contractor. You may also want to set up a date and invite multiple contractors over at the same time.  Be careful though, if you have three or four contractors coming on the same day it may be difficult to give them all attention.

Building Permits – If a building permit is required, be aware that in most municipalities, you can’t apply for the building permit until you own the home.  Thus, you or your architect, or your contractor, will be applying for the permit after the purchase closes.  Design work can and should be completed beforehand.

Financing – Arrange a mortgage that is large enough to cover the cost of the purchase and the renovation, and leave a buffer for additional work or unexpected items.  Alternatively, a secured line of credit in addition to a mortgage provides flexibility for the current and future projects.

Delay if Necessary – If you’re not sure of what you want done, or how you want the space finished, hold off on renovating.  As you live in the space, you will start to get a better idea of what needs attention and what needs to be done to make the home functional.

Have Questions? If your project is in the Greater Toronto Area, give us a call.