Every year around this time I start hearing people say things like, "Let's renovate the kitchen for the holidays." They imagine cooking a big holiday feast in a beautiful, newly renovated kitchen - with all the fancy finishes and appliances.
And they'll talk about all the parties they'll have with friends and family.
These discussions are great to get you motivated, or at least help you narrow down what you want. But this is just the "dreaming" phase. Reality is a whole other ball game.
I never recommend anyone set a hard deadline - like a holiday - for a renovation to be done. It's too stressful. Most people think everything will go smoothly. Usually they're people who have never gone through a renovation. The reality is that things don't always go according to plan. Believe me - I know.
Over the last few months we've been filming the new series, Holmes Makes It Right. And I'll tell you, construction and television don't mix. I guess that's part of the reason why it's exciting to watch. But it really isn't an ideal situation.
Construction and renovation schedules are crazy: you have to co-ordinate different trades, sometimes mould or asbestos abatement, concrete pours, inspections. You're working with a million different professionals, with a million different schedules, and a million different products that have their own set of steps to follow. And one job can't start until another one is finished.
For example, you can't start framing until you've secured the structure. Or you can't start doing drywall until your HVAC, plumbing and electrical are done, inspected and passed. Or else you're going to be punching holes and doubling your work.
Then add television to the mix. That's a whole different world with its own set of rules and deadlines. How does it all come together? It takes a lot of planning - weeks, sometimes months in advance. And sometimes it doesn't matter how much you plan. Your entire project can be thrown off schedule; all it takes is just one more hiccup you discover, like mould or a crumbling foundation. It's already happened at least a dozen times on the new series. Sometimes it's something minor like a late delivery, a back order on materials or the wrong product was sent.
The only way I can do what I do is with a strong team behind me. I'm lucky. I have an army of people (besides the crew) working day in and day out to make sure we get the job done. They do whatever it takes to make both ends meet - television and construction. They've worked miracles. But it's not easy.
I've been doing this for a while. So I have a phone book full of tradespeople, manufacturers, engineers and builders I can call if we're down to the wire. Homeowners aren't in the same position.
Some folk think it takes only a couple of days to find a contractor, a week to plan the entire renovation and order materials, and then a couple of weeks to complete the job. Sorry folks. But if you think that's the case you're still in the dreaming phase.
Doing things right takes time. If you rush it, you'll get crap.
A short hard deadline, such as by Christmas or an anniversary, sets you up to fail. You're already in a rush to get the job going so you're going to scramble to find a contractor. You probably won't have enough time to check references, look at past projects or talk to previous clients. Yes, you can find a contractor in a couple of days; but not the right contractor. This takes just as long, or longer, as doing the job itself.
I've said it a million times: good contractors are busy. Most likely, the right contractor won't be able to start your project right away. But if you're set on getting it done by a certain date you'll settle for whoever is available. And who do you think is going to be available on short notice? Not the good guys.
Things happen. How many times have I gone into a job thinking it's just a basement and then it turns into a complete gut? Or fixing cracked tiles turns into fixing structure. If your deadline leaves no room for these kinds of repairs - which must be done - you're only wasting your money. Because if you don't do it right, I guarantee you'll need to do it again. You don't want to spend $12,000 on a renovation that will have to be ripped out because what's underneath wasn't repaired.
Save yourself the stress. What's the rush anyway? The only thing you'll be rushing into is problems. Take your time. Do your research. And give yourself enough leeway to make sure your reno is done right the first time. Like the song goes, only fools rush in.
Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right, premiering Tuesday on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.