In Search of that Money-making Home Renovation…

I love strolling through my neighbourhood on those bright but lazy Sundays. Warm or cold, young and old toil away on their front lawns or in their garages throughout the city. Wave a hello and you’ll soon hear stories…followed by more stories. Home improvement is a language we all understand.


Recently, an elderly neighbour invited me over to take a look at his renovation project. George had purchased his older bungalow in an up-and-coming neighbourhood in Toronto as an investment—one that, as far as this recent HomeBuyer was concerned, was going to “pay off big.” He planned to do a bunch of projects to pretty the place up and attract high bidders.

During my tour, I gazed at the hours, dollars and back breaking effort George was devoting to his first project with increasing concern. While replacing flooring is a good investment for any HomeOwner to consider making before putting his home on the market, replacing the plywood subfloor underneath the hardwood may go too far. Would potential HomeBuyers actually pay for these ‘hidden’ upgrades?

As I shook hands with the flushed Do-It-Yourselfer and we said our goodbyes, a sudden thought entered my mind: “All home renovations are definitely not created equal.” Investing in your home or condo to raise its value is always a good idea, but given limited resources of money, time and Tylenol, some improvements make better investments than others.

A smart HomeOwner always talks to neighbours to stay aware. If there are common issues that need to be addressed on your street (like termite-ruined flooring), you want to ensure that you act accordingly. Don’t confuse a necessary repair with a “nice-to-have.”

Beyond the obvious must-dos, though, it is a good idea to check out what the experts have to say. Do renovated washrooms or kitchens make the most impact? Are finished basements a must-have? Visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for information on maintaining the value of your home. Check out this interactive tool from the Appraisal Institute of Canada to calculate the potential return on a renovation investment. Companies involved in the renovation business such as Home Depot and Rona may also offer weekend seminars and workshops to educate the HomeOwner.

While it is great to benefit from the expertise provided by professionals, it is good to keep in mind that for many, encouraging you to fix your entire home is big business. Make sure you decide what amount of resources are you willing to invest (along with money and time, don’t forget to factor in inconvenience), and establish how much you expect your home’s value to increase as a result. Once you and your family are clearer on the numbers you want, you can zero in on the best advice before you embark on your next major project.

Realosophy Realty Inc. Brokerage is an innovative residential real estate brokerage in Toronto. A leader in real estate analytics and pro-consumer advice, Realosophy helps clients make better decisions when buying or selling a home. 

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