Renovating a house checklist

13 minute read Published on May 17, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Young woman painting a room.

There is much to consider when renovating your home, and renovating a home is no easy task. That is why, before you start any type of home renovation, it is important to create a home renovation checklist. This checklist will ensure that you are prepared for your upcoming home renovations and don’t forget any important steps, like purchasing home construction site coverage. This can also help you to stay on track with your budget and ensure your needs are met. Keep reading to learn more about creating a home renovation checklist.

Home renovation checklist

Is creating a checklist when renovating a house important? Yes, due to the complexity of many home renovation projects, taking the extra step of creating a home renovation checklist is extremely important. Doing so will ensure your home improvement project goes as smoothly as possible. Meanwhile, not taking the time to define your goals, research contractors, or compare prices can lead to all kinds of trouble down the road. So although creating a checklist might sound like a lot of extra work, it can actually save you time (not to mention, money) in the long run. When drafting a checklist, we recommend breaking it down into different phases, as after all, a home renovation is a major undertaking. The sample checklist we’ve created below is divided into phases, beginning with the initial planning phase and ending with the final celebration. Keep in mind that although this home renovation checklist is designed to be applicable to a wide range of home renovations, each project is unique and you may need to adjust your checklist accordingly:

Phase one: planning & research

Your checklist for phase one of your home renovation, planning and research, is as follows:

Create a plan for your home renovation

The first item on your home renovation checklist is to create a plan for it. Think carefully about what kind of home renovation you want to do. Is this a full home remodel, is there a specific repair that you’ve been putting off, or is there one room that you’ve been wanting to update for ages? Think long and hard about what kind of renovation you want to do and then go from there.

Make a list of must-haves

The next step in phrase one of your home renovation checklist is to make a sub-list of your “must-haves.” These are the parts of the renovation that are non-negotiable. For example, if you’re a professional chef renovating your kitchen, then a double oven or cooler might be your “must-haves.” Alternatively, if a member family is coming to live with you, then creating an en-suite bathroom for your guest room might be the “must-have.” Whatever these are, write them down so you’ll have a clear idea of what you are and are not willing to compromise on.

Determine your home renovation budget

Determining your home renovation budget is the next item on your checklist. This one can take some time. After all, home renovations can be costly, so it’s important to do a deep dive into your finances in order to set a realistic budget. Experts generally recommend leaving a bit of wiggle room in your budget as home renovation costs are often higher than initially estimated. We also recommend budgeting not only for the cost of the renovation but also for additional costs like a type of home insurance called renovations insurance that will protect your home while it is under construction.

Set a hard deadline

If your home renovation project has a hard deadline, make a note of this. For example, if the renovation needs to be completed in time for the start of the next school year or you have a family member moving in on a specific date, you might have a deadline that can’t be moved. If you know this from the start, you can factor this date into your project timeline and make this clear to any potential contractors you work with.

Gather inspiration

The next checklist item in the planning and research phase is to start gathering inspiration. Now that you know your budget, you can go online and start searching for design ideas on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. We recommend tailoring your results according to your preferred design style or the room you are looking to renovate. You may even want to start visiting home improvement stores to look at certain light fixtures, appliances, or floor coverings in person.

Phase two: hire professional help

One of the most important parts of your home renovation checklist involves hiring professional help to carry out your renovation:

Ask for contractor referrals

If you know of someone who recently had their home remodelled, or even part of their home, ask them who their contractor was. Word of mouth is one of the most effective methods of finding a contractor you can trust. That said, you will still need to do your due diligence, which is outlined in the next few checklist items. If you don’t have anyone to ask for referrals, look to the internet. Find local social media groups with advice on the best contractors in your town or city or check and see if there are any reviews on google for local contractors.

Check reviews online

Online reviews are a great source of information. Plus, they’re free and easy to find. Therefore, when researching contractors in your area, we recommend going to places like Google and reading the reviews for various contracting companies. Based on the reviews you read, you can decide whether you want to move forward with contacting the company for an interview.

Interview prospective contractors

The next item on your checklist is to contact local contractors in your area and schedule an interview. This could be over the phone or in person depending on your preference. The goal of the interview is to get an idea of whether the contractor would be a good fit for your renovation project. Make sure to ask questions about their level of experience with the specific type of renovation you are looking to do, as well as their availability in the coming months. For example, if you plan to make green home renovations, ask prospective contractors about their past experience working on these types of projects. This is especially important for anyone working within a tight deadline. You could also ask them to provide photos of similar projects they have done in the past, to ensure they can meet your expectations.

Request project estimates

As part of your interviews or separately, make sure to request estimates from any prospective contractors. Getting an estimate is a great way to determine whether hiring a certain contractor is within your budget. Remember that estimates don’t always end up being reality so make sure that your budget has some extra padding. In addition, it’s worth noting that many contractors need to visit your home in order to provide an accurate estimate. They will likely take photos and measurements before getting back to you with a quote, which means the entire quote process could take anywhere from three to six weeks.

Finalize the details and hire a contractor

Once you’ve received the quotes and have decided which contractor you want to hire, all that’s left to do is to finalize the details. Make sure to check your chosen contractor’s references, permits, and licences, and to confirm your timeline and the details of the payment plan before pulling the trigger.

Phase three: Prepare your home for the renovation

Preparing your home for a renovation - even a small one - takes time, so be sure to check off the items below in advance of your home reno:

Make a home inventory checklist

First, take stock of the items currently in your home by creating a home inventory checklist. Such a checklist is a great tool to refer back to once the home renovation is complete. It can help you account for anything temporarily moved out of your home during the course of the renovation, as well as take stock of any items that potentially get damaged during the renovation. It could also help you save by not having to purchase more items if you are going to have more space in your home.

Rent a storage container

Depending on the scope of your home renovation project, you may need to temporarily remove some of the items from your home. Therefore, it's best to look into renting a storage container near you. If you are able to store some items at a friend or neighbour’s, go for it. But for most people, especially if your home is undergoing a full remodel, renting a storage container might be necessary. To avoid having to pay for the cost of a moving truck on top of the storage container, look into a container company that delivers the unit to your driveway.

Make alternative living arrangements

If you are unable to live in your home during the renovation, it’s time to make some alternative living arrangements. Reach out to friends or family members in case they have room to take you in. Alternatively, look into hotels or Airbnbs where you and your family can live temporarily. If the remodel is going to take months or even a year, then it might even be worth leasing a home or condo during that period. Generally, you should be prepared for the renovation project to take longer than it’s estimated to, so bring what you need to feel comfortable in your new space.

Phase four: the renovation

The next phase is when the action actions - it’s the renovation! Therefore, this part of your home renovation checklist is centred on what you need to do during the renovation itself:

Make yourself available

Throughout the renovation, it’s a good idea to make yourself available to the contractor and any subcontractors in case they have questions or updates. Provide them with relevant contact information and confirm their preferred method of communication, whether that be email, phone, or in person.

Check in regularly

Without being a burden to the contractors, we recommend dropping by to check in on the project regularly. This way, you can avoid any errors or miscommunications before things progress too far.

Practice patience

Delays are all too common in the world of home renovations. Prepare for the reality of delays and practice patience. Adverse weather can halt a construction site, as can materials being delayed, contractors getting sick, and more. Try to roll with the punches as best you can. If you’ve budgeted for delays since the beginning, you will have an easier time dealing with them as they come up.

Final walk through with the contractor

Before the contractor and their team walk out of your home for good, make sure you ask for one final walk through. This way, if you notice any small things that may have been overlooked, you can bring them to the contractor’s attention then and there. Ideally, don't make your final payment until everything you’ve asked for is complete.

Phase five: celebrate

The final phase of your renovation and the last item on your checklist is to celebrate!

Move back in and enjoy your new home

If you were forced to relocate during the renovation, now’s the time to move back in. From there, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy your newly updated home! We recommend celebrating big by inviting over a few friends to celebrate. If you were pleased with your contractor’s work, you might even write them a kind review online or recommend them to a friend.

Tips to ensure a smooth home renovation

Everyone wants their home renovation to go as smoothly as possible. That is why we’ve put together this list of tips to ensure your reno project goes off without a hitch:

1. Decide on your home renovation budget as early as possible

Setting your budget as early as possible is crucial to the success of your project. Going over budget on a home renovation can be extremely stressful. But if you decide on your budget early, you’ll have an easier time sticking with it.

2. Consider your timeline and plan for delays

Having a set timeline from the beginning is also a wise choice. In fact, knowing your preferred timeline is critical when interviewing contractors as this can help you decide between contracting companies. Although you will likely have an ideal project end date in mind, plan for delays. Experts recommend adding an extra 10% or 15% to your timeline for smaller remodels and adding 20% to your estimated timeline for full home remodels. Preparing for the project to take longer than the contractor estimates can save you a lot of stress.

3. Make your selections early

It takes time to order fixtures, appliances, building materials, decor, and more. Thus, it’s best to make your selections early. This gives your project the best possible chance of finishing on time. The earlier the contractor has your selections, the earlier they can place the order and the quicker everything will arrive. Plus, if the materials or appliances arrive early but you don’t like them, this gives you a little more time to change things at the last minute.

4. Don’t spend more money than you have to on certain items

There are many things that are worth spending money on for a home renovation, but there are many that aren’t. Knowing where you can skimp is important and can save you lots of money down the line. Important elements of a home renovation that should not be skimped on are anything relating to the structure, foundation, electrical, plumbing, waterproofing, or insulation aspects of your home. However, some of the ways that you can save money on your home renovation include choosing affordable fixtures over high-end ones, using cheaper finishing materials, opting for a simple paint job, and pushing any basic upgrades to a later date.

5. Update your home insurance coverage accordingly

A newly-updated home might require a new home insurance plan. Why? Since your home has been updated, it may have increased in value or include new structures that aren’t covered. Therefore, changing home insurance might be necessary. If you aren’t sure whether your property insurance plan needs to be amended, speak with a BrokerLink insurance broker. They can give you advice on whether you need to change your policy and how to do so. For example, they might recommend adding more third party liability insurance coverage to your policy to account for the increase in value.

Contact BrokerLink for a complete home renovation checklist

Renovating a home is a major undertaking. That is why it is important to be as organized as possible, and creating a home renovation checklist can help you do just that. With such a checklist, you can break down the various components of a home renovation into manageable pieces, ensuring you don’t miss a thing. From the research and planning phase to what to do during the actual renovation, BrokerLink’s home renovation checklist covers every aspect of your home renovation. For more information on planning for an upcoming home renovation, contact BrokerLink. Our licenced insurance advisors have all kinds of expert tips they can provide, like how to make your renovation go off without a hitch and how to save on home insurance premiums. For example, if you’re doing a home renovation, a BrokerLink insurance advisor may recommend that you install a burglar alarm system or smart locks in your home, which could result in a home insurance discount. Of course, as home insurance experts, a BrokerLink insurance advisor can also help you update an existing home insurance policy or even find a renovation insurance policy to ensure you’re protected during the entirety of your home renovation. Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more about our home insurance services today.


FAQs on home renovations in Canada

Does home insurance cover home renovations?

Most standard homeowners insurance policies will not cover damage or losses that occur due to home renovations. Therefore, you must notify your insurance provider in advance if you plan to make any renovations to your home. They can tell you how you need to update your coverage to be protected during the renovation process.

How long do home renovations take?

This largely depends on the scope of the renovation, as well as the availability of your chosen contractor. Full home remodels can take up to a year, whereas smaller home renovation projects, like bathroom or kitchen remodels, may only take a number of weeks. For a better idea of how long your home renovation will take, get in touch with a contractor near you.

How much will it cost to renovate my home?

The cost of a home renovation depends on the specific project, the location of the home, and the contractor you hire, among other factors. For a realistic idea of how much your home renovation project will cost, we recommend requesting quotes from contractors in your area. To provide an accurate quote, the contractor will likely do a site visit and get back to you within a matter of weeks.

Where can I buy renovation insurance?

You can purchase renovation insurance from an insurance agent or broker. Renovation insurance is a type of home insurance coverage that can be added as a rider or endorsement to an existing homeowners insurance policy. It can protect you and your home in the event that your home suffers damage or loss during the course of a renovation project.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.