Homes - Renovating

Renovation tips: Average joe vs. reno pro

HGTV host, Scott McGillivray, explains when to take on a reno project yourself and when to call a licensed trade.

When it comes to renovation, I’ve tried just about everything – but that doesn’t mean it’s been the best decision. If it’s work that requires a licensed trade, you may be doing more harm than good by taking matters into your own hands. Here are some tasks a novice can complete with great results… and some you shouldn’t attempt yourself.

Average joe
Project 1: Painting

This doesn’t mean it requires no skill – I’ve seen some horrific paint jobs, but with some patience and preparation, painting is a great DIY project. A 1,500-square-foot house takes about two days to paint, and it would cost about $2,500 to have a professional come in to do it. Either way, it should have about a 250 percent return on investment (taking into account the home’s total cost). So whether you DIY or hire a pro, the job is worth about $6,250.

Painting tips:
  • Protect the floors.
  • Remove receptacle and switch cover plates.
  • Tape your edges if you aren't steady with the brush.

Project 2: Insulating framed walls
I often see houses with energy wastage from lack of insulation on walls and in headers. The installation of batt insulation is simple and has immediate results. The average 700-square-foot basement takes about a day to insulate, and the labour would cost about $1,200. Insulation has about a 150 percent return on investment, so it adds about $1,800 in value. If I’m working with a homeowner who has no construction experience, one of the first tasks I’ll suggest is installing insulation.

Insulating tips:
  • Most walls are framed on 16-inch centres, and Roxul insulation comes ready to fit betwen those frames.
  • Start at the top of the wall and work down, cutting the last piece to fit.
  • Use a bread knife to slice the insulation for a perfect fit. You can do an entire basement in one afternoon; the reward is saving up to 20 percent on your energy bill.

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