Renovations: Plan before you take the plunge

Want to do some remodelling but don’t want the headaches? Here are some tips to help you plan, finance and complete your renovations.

Updated May 4, 2021

Whether you’re thinking of renovating a room or using your vacation budget to install a new pool, here are some things to keep in mind to help make your project a success.

Make a plan

Renovations aren’t the best time to be flying by the seat of your pants. Even if you feel confident and have plenty of experience, you can end up with some unpleasant surprises if you don’t start out with a plan.

To avoid this scenario, take the time to do some planning. Do your research and compare quotes. Every minute you invest at the beginning will save you time, energy and money.

Develop a timeline

To stay on stop of the project and stay on track timewise, set up a schedule. With a clear and realistic timeline divided into tasks and dates, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you check things off your list. There might be holdups this summer, so be sure to cover all your bases and adjust your schedule as needed.

Draw up a budget

We’ve all heard stories of never-ending renos that cost a fortune. Before getting out your hammer, take out your calculator. Write out a list of your expenses, the cost of materials, tools, labour, transportation and waste management.

With the rising cost of building materials, it’s essential to evaluate possible impacts and solutions when you’re planning your budget.

  • Find out whether or not there’s a clause in the contract that allows your contractor to increase the original price.
  • Make sure materials are available at the price quoted and find out the impact of any delivery delays.
  • Make sure you have enough funds to absorb the increase.
  • Contact your advisor to find out how much extra financing you could get, if needed.

Angela Iermieri, a financial planner at Desjardins, suggests sticking to the original plans and avoiding any “might-as-wells.” As in, “Since I’m remodelling the bathroom, I might as well redo the bedroom!”

It’s also a good idea to go with a neutral, timeless look and shy away from trends. For example, instead of expensive materials that are in fashion, choose accent colours for your walls. Renovations are often part and parcel of home maintenance and some could even add value to your home, like a kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Make a contingency plan

Angela Iermieri advises setting aside approximately 10-15% of the total cost of your renovations. It can often be difficult to stay on target, whether you end up having to do surprise repairs, or if something unexpected comes up. It’s better to plan on going over than under.

Choose the right financing

“Some people finance their renos the easy way with their credit card, but that can be an expensive mistake,” says Iermieri. It’s better to go with financing that offers a set repayment schedule, fixed term and lower interest rate.

She suggests starting with any available savings you have or using money you’ve set aside for a trip or other goal you can put off.

But what you don’t want to do is take money out of your emergency fund. It’s important to keep a financial cushion for any curveballs life throws your way.

And if you need to borrow funds, use the best financing solution for your situation.

If you’re eligible, here are some options for financing your renovations:

  • Personal loan:* Regular repayments with a term that works for you. It also offers a better interest rate than your credit card.
  • Personal line of credit:* You can use what you need and repayment is flexible. To help manage your budget, you can set up regular payments once the renovations are complete.
  • Home equity line of credit:* At Desjardins, some mortgage holders can use a Versatile Line of Credit. You can access this line of credit once you’ve paid back at least 20% of your home’s value. It lets you use your home equity to finance bigger projects. You can agree on an amount based on your plans and take advantage of flexible repayment arrangements.
  • Mortgage financing:* You’ll get a lower interest rate than you would on a credit card or personal loan. To get financing or refinancing, contact your caisse to find out what options are available.

Contact your advisor

Whether you’ve looking to get new financing, increase your current financing or transfer your financing to Desjardins, your advisor is your financial partner for getting your renovation project off the ground. They can review your finances and recommend solutions tailored to your needs, profile and borrowing capacity, while making sure you still have funds for other priorities.


  • Make sure you have the right permits, especially those from the city or municipality.
  • If you’re working with renovation professionals, make sure they’re certified and insured.
  • Notify your home insurer of your renovation plans. They’ll tell you about any extra coverages you’ll need while the work is being done. You’ll also need to update your file once the renovations are complete.
  • Let your neighbours know ahead of time!

If the pandemic has thrown your finances for a loop, it might be wise to put off your renovation plans for now.

If you’re ready to start your reno, be sure to stick to your budget and be disciplined—that’s the key to success.

Have a great summer, and happy renovating!

*Subject to credit approval by the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec. Certain conditions, exclusions and limitations may apply.

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