By Andrea Haines

To move or to renovate? The trend in 2016 is to stay put and create your perfect home, project by project.

According to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) analysts, homeowners are weighing the pros and cons of uprooting their lives and changing neighbourhoods against settling into a place that is already home. The majority say they’d rather stay than go.

But renovations are costly, and it’s not something you should jump into without careful, thoughtful, and knowledgeable planning. Lenders are leery of people who decide to do the renovation themselves unless they have solid experience. They are much more likely to arrange financing for professional renovations (of a certain size − $40,000 and upwards) because they know the job will be done properly and will therefore be appropriate to the value of your property.

Professional renovators will help you to be realistic with your plans. They are objective, unemotional, down-to-earth, and experienced. They know how to navigate all the permits − a big and often confusing job in itself. They can advise you of your options, especially when it comes to critical matters of structure.

You need to be able to afford the renovation, and it must be a wise financial investment. A professional can help guide you through it all.

Do-it-yourself renovations are most often the ones that don’t go smoothly. Renovation timelines, scope, and budget are a moving target, and they can be deadly for amateurs. If things go wrong, there’s always a price to pay.

Plan carefully; know your financial limits; understand the pitfalls; and hire a professional you trust – that is, if you want your renovation to be a dream, and not a nightmare.

Andrea Haines is the Eastern Ontario Regional Manager for Magenta Investments.