When creating a home renovation budget, it pays to think about more than the granite countertops

By Brendan Charters, Toronto Star

renos that pay

Some 10 years ago, renowned Ottawa architect Barry J. Hobin shared a list of four aspects to consider when creating a home renovation budget. I remember it fondly and share it with every homeowner I meet.

So here it is:

Area: A 1,000-square-foot home costs less than a 4,000-square-foot home to build, but the smaller home does not benefit from the economy of scale of the larger home. As a result, if both were built identically, the cost per square foot of the smaller home would be larger. Size has a direct relationship with cost.

The system: This is the part of the home you never see, but is integral in the operation, longevity and health of the structure and its inhabitants. An example of this would be insulation – fiberglass batt, high- or low-density spray foam, wool, straw or other – all carry different costs, pros and cons, but all are a solution to the problem of heat loss/gain. These are not the sexy parts of the house, but are a huge part of the build and performance of the structure.

Architectural complexity: A cathedral ceiling, cantilevered balcony, corbels, are the details that shape a structure and make it interesting. Keep in mind, however, that a perfect square is cheaper to build than a perfect circle. The more intricate the details, the more costly the build.

Level of finish: This is the sexy stuff. Stone tiles and countertops, double-sided fireplaces, cabreuva hardwood and custom millwork. These are parts you show off to your jealous neighbours. The higher end the finish, the more costly the project. Likewise, the more common or entry level you use, the cheaper the build becomes.

Should you decide to take on a big renovation or custom home project, start with the professionals who are focused on sharing knowledge and learning the best way to design and build your home. A home is your biggest investment and deserves the skill and expertise of the professionals.

First published in the Toronto Star on February 9, 2012.

Related reading:

Should you renovate before you sell?

Achieve the homeownership dream sooner