It's a brand new year, and chances are you've resolved to make some changes both big and small in 2015. According to Mike Holmes, it's wise to approach a renovation with the value and comfort of your home in mind. Focus on increasing the energy efficiency of your home by addressing any issues you may have with the exterior envelope of your home, including the windows, attic, and foundation. You might think that fixing non-cosmetic issues is a waste of time because you can't immediately see or enjoy the improvements, but they make a huge difference in improving the value of your home, especially if you plan on selling it in the near future. Taking an outside-in approach to home improvement is the only smart way to renovate.
From the National Post:
Mike Holmes: My best advice for approaching a smart reno in 2015
It’s a new year and you’re starting to think about taking on a renovation. Be smart; make it a good investment.
Focus on renos that help increase value, by improving the energy efficiency, durability, comfort and performance of your home. Some people think if they invest in a new kitchen or bathroom that will increase value the most. Not always the case. What if you get a leak or moisture intrusion, which then results in mould? To fix it, you might have to tear out that new kitchen or bathroom.
That’s a huge waste of money and materials.
My top advice is to work from the outside in. Take care of your roof, attic, windows, exterior and foundation first to make sure everything you do on the inside is protected. Some people think that’s pointless, especially when it comes time to sell because people can’t actually see those kinds of improvements. Or you’ll get more bang for your buck by focusing on the lipstick and mascara — the finishes.
But that’s like trying to sell a car with a weak battery, blown head gasket and faulty brakes by throwing on some new rims and a paint job. You might get someone to buy it, but only after some serious renegotiating on the selling price. You could even end up losing money on what the rims and paint cost you. Instead, if you present a solid package, you’ll get your full investment, for the selling price you want.
A good start is a maintenance inspection to help prioritize what should be done first. For example, if you can see large cracks in your brick exterior, especially along windows, your bricks are spalling, flaking or the mortar is being eaten away. Getting this fixed should be at the top of your list. Otherwise, you risk moisture getting in behind the brick and into structure, rotting the substrate.
By investing in your building envelope first — that’s everything that separates the inside of your home from the outside — it will pay off in energy efficiency, durability and protection.
Insulation plays a big role when it comes to your building envelope. A properly sealed and insulated home saves money every month.
Closed-cell spray foam insulation is a top product for energy efficiency and airtightness — as long as the right professional installs it; that’s key. I like blown-in batt insulation in the attic with a minimum of R60. A stone wool insulation, like Roxul, that is fire-, mould- and moisture-resistant is also smart. It’s great for basements, plus it can also absorb sound.
Once you take care of the outside, you can start having fun with the inside. There are simple upgrades that homeowners should consider. For example, consider switching carpeting for engineered hardwood; it looks good, is durable and low maintenance, and can also help improve indoor air quality and reduce allergens.
We can also start looking at better, smarter interior products that work for any renovation, like quality drywall. Given the right environment and the right conditions, regular drywall will get mould. Luckily, there are drywall products that have been designed to protect against mould, moisture and mildew. Some drywall even absorbs and locks in volatile organic compounds, which helps create safer and healthier indoor environments.
Think about sub-floor systems that protect your final flooring choice. For example, insulated sub-floor panels with raised drainage and air-circulation channels allow air to move freely and dry out any moisture.
When these panels are placed over a concrete basement floor, not only do they help reduce surface moisture but also temperature fluctuations, which could lead to mould and mildew problems. They also provide a continual thermal break across the entire floor surface, meaning you get warmer floors and use less energy for heating.
Keep a record of every upgrade you make, especially the ones you can’t see, like premium roofing materials, drywall and subflooring products or extra insulation. And keep a copy of all warranties! You never know when it all might come in handy, especially if you ever want to sell your home.
A smart reno is an investment. It should pay you back.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.