Renovations: Plan before you take the plunge

Want to do some remodelling without the headaches? Here are some tips to help you plan, finance and successfully complete your renovations.

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 make your project a success.

Make a plan

When you’re renovating, it’s not the best time to be flying by the seat of your pants. Even if you have the best intentions and experience, without a good plan, you’ll make mistakes and pay the price.

To avoid turning your renovation project into a money pit, you need to be organized. Do your research and get lots of quotes. Every minute you invest at the beginning will save you time, energy and money.

Set a schedule

Sometimes, renos can be like the universe: always expanding! One thing can lead to another and before you know it, you’re completely off track. But you can avoid this by sticking to a schedule.

A clear and realistic timeline organized by tasks and dates will give you a sense of accomplishment when you check things off the 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 the stories of never-ending renos that cost a fortune. Before dusting off your toolbox, fire up your calculator. Write out a list of your expenses: the cost of materials, tools, labour, transportation and waste management.

Angela Iermieri, Desjardins Financial Planner, 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!”

astuce It’s also a good idea to go with a neutral and timeless look and shy away from trends. For example, choose a colour that will always be in style instead of costly materials that might be outmoded in 2 years.
Renovations are often part and parcel of home maintenance and some projects might even add value to your home, like a kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Make a contingency plan

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

Choosing the best financing

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

She suggests starting with any cash available in your savings or to use money you had set aside for a trip or another project you can put off.

But avoid taking money out of your emergency fund. It’s important to keep a financial cushion for life’s curveballs.

And if you need to borrow funds, use the best financing tool available.

If you’re eligible, here are some options you can use to finance your renovations:

  • Personal loan*: Regular repayments with a term that works for you. Plus, you’ll get a better interest rate than your credit card.
  • Personal line of credit*: You can use what you need and repayment is flexible. To help you manage your budget, you can set up regular payments once the renovations are complete.
  • HELOC*: 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 the equity on your property to finance bigger projects. You can agree on an amount based on your plans and take advantage of flexible repayment arrangements.
  • Mortgage refinancing*: Homeowners can borrow some of the funds they’ve paid back on their mortgage loan. You can choose the duration of your loan, renewal term and set a regular payment schedule.

Contact your advisor

Your advisor is a precious ally when it comes to getting your renovation project off the ground. They can review your financial situation and propose solutions adapted to your needs, profile and borrowing capacity. All while making sure you’ll be able to meet your other goals.


  • Make sure you have the right permits.
  • If you’re working with renovation professionals, make sure that they’re compliant, certified and insured. You can work with a company like RenoAssistance for quotes and cost comparison.
  • Be sure that you’re insured during renovations and contact your home insurance provider to update your file afterwards.
  • Let your neighbours know ahead of time!

If the pandemic has thrown your finances for a loop in the short- or medium-term, it might be wise to wait before renovating.

So, are you ready? Stick to your budget and be disciplined. That’s the best way to transform your renovations into an investment!

Have a great summer and good luck with your renos!

* Subject to credit approval.