Numerous TV shows continue to present dazzling home makeovers that happen in less time than it takes to assemble your snack, pick a good spot on the couch and find the volume on the remote. While renovating may seem like a quick and easy way to jazz up a tired room, it can be more of a commitment than some homeowners expect.
Chalsi Goetz, owner of Golden Interiors in North Vancouver, says renovating is a process and it's not fast. Goetz is a designer and a contractor and says renovations or facelifts take one to three months to plan and three to six months to finish.
"You're making a real commitment on both sides," she says of clients and designers coming together. Most of her contracts run a minimum of six months. That's why when choosing a designer it is particularly important to choose someone whose personality fits with yours, she notes.
The best way to choose a designer is to get a referral by a friend and take a look at the designer's work.
"Don't judge what they've done for a friend as that's all they can do, but judge by the experience that a friend or business associate had working with that person, and how the job went and if they did it in the timelines, stayed in the budget, were a pleasure to work with, had good trades, all that kind of stuff," says Goetz.
She explains that it is more important to find someone you can work with and trust than to try to find a designer with a certain style.
"If it's a good designer they will be able to provide any type of style. They will work with what you envision your home to be, what you've already started in your home because, let's face it, not everybody has the money to re-do everything, and if they're a good designer they will not be coming in to your home and saying I only work if you replace everything."
Another tip is to find a designer who lives in your area to help keep costs down because designers, just like the trades, will charge for travelling time.
"If you have a budget and that's important then try to find someone in your area," says Goetz, adding even people with a lot of money have budgets.
Also make sure you speak up if you're not happy or don't like what the designer is providing you as selections or choices in the price or design.
"I always tell people there's a budget of what you want to spend and a budget of what you're willing to spend," says Goetz and warns: be realistic with those two numbers.
A good designer will be honest with you up front if you're unrealistic about your budget, but there's a lot of builders and designers out there who are not honest, which can lead to projects going over budget.
"They will put a budget together and price out a $200 tap when they know with everything else in the home the tap's not going to be $200 it's going to be $800," explains Goetz, noting homeowners should not hire a designer based on price.
"If they're good and you've gotten good referrals you have to trust that their pricing is realistic."
Another thing to consider is waiting until you have a budget to do all you need to do rather than piecemeal projects because "you don't put in new flooring if you're not going to re-do your kitchen when it's 20 or 25 years old," says Goetz. Some clients who want to do $25,000 worth of new flooring and not touch anything else end up realizing it's going to cost around $100,000 because they realize they can't wait on the other things, such as renovating a kitchen, because it will damage their new $25,000 floor if they do the work after the new floor is in place.
"You have to start from the ground up, but if what is sitting on that ground is old and falling apart you better expand your budget because you're going to end up doing it in a year or two anyway and you will ruin your floors."
It's a busy time of year right now for designers, contractors and trades, and Goetz says the design trend is toward clean lines without much pattern.
Quartz is the top pick for countertops.
"It's just beautiful," says Goetz. "It's more durable. It doesn't need to be sealed like granite does. It's not as porous and it's just stunning."
Although they used to have only a handful of finishes to choose from, the quartzes available now have at least 100 finishes and the price points are very competitive with granite, she
Cabinets are featuring a lot of painted finishes and there are a lot of wood floors in the kitchens again balanced off with a painted finish on the cabinetry.
Not surprisingly, hardwood is still popular. "I love hardwood. It's just soft on your back. And cork is another nice option. Tile, unless it's heated I don't use it in the kitchen. It's really hard on your back."
There is also material that is a composition of vinyl and tile and vinyl planking that looks like wood. Finishes depend on the size of the space and the budget.
It's important to make sure your designer uses every square inch of the valuable real estate property here says Goetz.
"Look at what the houses sell for. If you're not using every square inch in your home you've got the wrong person working with you, she says, noting many homeowners have living rooms they never use. In her work, Goetz has flipped living rooms and dining rooms and added a bedroom on a first floor so the space could be used better.
"You should be living in every room in your house and enjoying every room in your house."