The best people to give renovation advice and information are, of course, the experts themselves, the professionals who know the building and renovation business inside out.

We asked two renovators, Mike Dion of Oakridge Construction, and David Gladwin of Gladwin Building Services, to tell us, in their own words, some of the best ways to save money in a renovation.

This is what they said.

Mike Dion, Oakridge Construction

Don’t change your mind!     

Do you want to keep your renovation costs down? It can be done, but it takes a bit of know-how.

First of all, minimize changes. Once your renovation has begun, don’t change your mind! (And yes, that’s easier said than done.)

This means planning ahead. Know what you want. Know what you expect from your contractor. If you change your mind mid-project, that can mean work that has been done has to be un-done. Taking the work apart adds precious time (and money) to the project. Changing your mind can mean several trips for the tradespeople to the site, and that just drives the cost up.

Give yourself enough time to think through the small details of your renovation with your contractor. Take the time to formulate and to ask questions. Good communication is essential and can ultimately mean the difference between lower and higher costs.

We like it when our clients come to us with a renovation scrapbook with photos, drawings and notes they have clipped, saved, sorted and studied. They have read magazines and looked online, and their scrapbook helps us get a good sense of the overall look they want.

When you’re shopping for things like flooring, plumbing, electrical fixtures, and so on, watch for sales. Many suppliers have sales and end-of-line products, and you can often find real bargains that way. Of course, that brings us back to planning. This is something you just can’t rush.

When you do find what you like, choose materials that are in stock rather than insisting on special-order things that only delay the process.

David Gladwin, Gladwin Building Services

Take it one step at a time

Saving money on your renovation doesn’t necessarily mean taking the lowest price. Always get three prices, and get them in writing. The lowest price might not include some standard things that others include. You don’t want to hear from your contractor: “That’s extra…”

Do some leg work at the beginning. Involve yourself in the project. This is your renovation. Don’t give up control completely. Be pro-active. Be decisive. Take your time. Don’t rush or be rushed.

Visit friends’ recent renovations. Get ideas.

Figure out your appliance specs and then share them with your contractor – before the cabinets are ordered. Choose your cabinet colour before the flooring, then the countertop, then the backsplash tile, and then the paint. Be sure about one choice before moving on to the next. If you break the decision process down into manageable bites you won’t be overwhelmed. One thing at a time, because changing your mind will usually cost.

And remember: you don’t HAVE to have the best granite or quartz. There are lots of great choices out there.

Listen to advice, but be firm if you are certain about a particular feature.

Don’t get caught up in the newest, off-beat, trendy ideas without doing some solid research. There’s the story of the couple who bought thousands of dollars worth of plumbing fixtures abroad only to find they couldn’t handle the pressure (PSI) of North American home water systems. They leaked like crazy!

Once you know what you want, leave the ordering of the material to the experts. Getting the right quantity, including wastage, is important. Not getting it right could bring your project to a grinding halt… and that costs money.

Be ready for the “uh-oh” factor. Add 15 per cent to your budget for the unpredictable. You need this to buffer the temptation to cut corners – and cutting corners can cost, too.