How to: Renovate like a pro

A savvy renovation always makes for a good return on your investment. Renovating your home can certainly be costly, but doing it right is more important than trying to save a few bucks by cutting corners.

Just like many of us, you too might be feeling the itch to start updating and bringing your space up to the current times. When tackling a bathroom, kitchen or even a larger overhaul, one thing to remember is that it is always important to consult with experts. As a designer, I have had to rescue jobs gone wrong numerous times. In the end, the costly price of fixing mistakes winds up being much greater for the homeowner than consulting with a designer and doing it right from the beginning.

Whether large or small, when the itch to remodel hits you, always begin with careful planning to ensure that you get the most out of your renovation budget.

With more than a decade of projects under my belt, I can confidently state that maintaining focus on your design style and direction is absolutely key. Being consistent and following your desired path is exceptionally important to ensure that your project is seamless and less stressful.

Begin with Inspiration

Design inspiration can come from many creative sources such as an HGTV design show, magazines, nature or art. Even your favourite travel destination might inspire you to remodel. Create a stylebook and fill it with photos of your favourite images, décor and artwork. You can even browse the online portfolios of designers like me for inspirational remodeling ideas. Design sessions with an interior designer are a great opportunity to hone into your style and colour palette and also useful for learning important renovation tips.

Define Your Goals and Priorities

Create a list and prioritize all the projects your wish to complete, including any major repairs. No matter what size your renovation is, don’t forget to consider all logistical details - from plumbing and electrical to your HVAC system.

Create a Budget and Timeline

Determine the money you have to spend and establish a timeline for completion. Knowing this will help you stay on budget and ensure you reach your goal without steering down a path you didn’t plan on. I always tell my clients to put aside 15% for a contingency fund, which shouldn’t be confused with overspending as it is to be used for those unpredictable construction costs. Make sure to work and consult with a designer, and invest in floor plans. Contractors need floor plans to communicate the design intention and not having a set of plans onsite can leave room for costly errors and discrepancies.

Find a Contractor

Interview at least five contractors and look for ones that work regularly in your neighbourhood.

Set Your Plan in Motion

Allow your vision to take shape by researching paint colours, furniture, lighting, accent pieces and anything else you would like to incorporate into the design of the space. Sometimes choosing the right décor can be overwhelming. I often get called in to help with colour choices and the décor selection to match the client’s budget and vision. A short design consultation can take a lot of stress off your plate and give you confidence in your selection.


  • Before hiring a designer, do your research. Ask detailed questions about their background and experience and don’t be afraid to ask to see pictures of previous projects to ensure that they’re the right fit in terms of style and expectations.
  • Prepare yourself for the process. Do extensive homework to get acquainted with what you are drawn to, what you don’t like, what’s in style now, ect.
  • Don’t work without a design plan and a scope of work. An experienced interior designer can create an aesthetic that suits your taste and develop a solid plan that works for you and your contractor.

Toronto based celebrity and award-winning designer Dvira Ovadia, Principal of Dvira Interiors, is known for her appearances and design work on various HGTV shows. Dvira and her team use their profound understanding of design to create stylishly smart spaces. Servicing clientele throughout Ontario & GTA. @DVIRAdesigner

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Why Use A Realtor?

  1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power -- that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.
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  9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.
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  11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.
  12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).
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