10 Tips to Maximize Your Home Renovation Investment

Homeowners who are considering a renovation - and those who were considering one when interest rates were very low - may try to maximize the renovation's value by minimizing cost. Even after reducing the total cost, a portion will still be wasted money. Instead, consider maximizing the performance of every dollar that you do spend. Here's how to do that.

Interior-only Renovations

  1. Eliminate unnecessary circulation spaces, and use necessary circulation spaces either as accent spaces or for auxiliary storage.

  2. Incorporate existing structural lines - both loadbearing elements and seismic-resisting ones - into the new design as much as possible. This reduces the cost of new structure and can avoid new beams that reduce the ceiling height.

  3. Install additional connections and ties between framing members and boards to reduce the likelihood of damage by strong winds or earthquake.

Renovations Involving Exterior Walls or Roof

  1. Install skylights or new windows to bring as much natural daylight into the space as possible and reduce the need for buying, installing, powering, and replacing lights.

  2. Improve the airtightness of the water-resistive barrier that sits directly outside your exterior walls' sheathing by using a self-adhesive, breathable membrane. Airtightness is the cheapest way to save money on both heating and cooling and to increase the lifespan of the wall studs and insulation.

  3. Consider replacing vinyl or wood siding with fibre-cement or concrete siding panels, brick, stone, or metal sheet. This will protect your house from wildfires and will have a much longer, no-maintenance lifespan.

  4. Upgrade the windows to fibreglass frames with Passive House certified low U-value triple glazing. There are several local manufacturers in the BC Lower Mainland.

Additions:

  1. Include an exterior, vapour-permeable, highly-airtight membrane outside the wall sheathing. This airtightness reduces your need for insulation and for air conditioning.

  2. Add continuous exterior mineral fibre insulation outside of this membrane to greatly reduce the likelihood of toxic mold growth.

  3. Line up wall studs with floor and roof framing members to cut down on the amount of wood framing required and thereby save money on material and labour.


These ten tips may sound crude or even obvious, but they are the big money movers in house construction. The concepts are sound, but implementing them well is another thing altogether. The first step of my design process -- the Design Diagnostic™ - reviews all aspects of ultra high-performance house design. I'm a Passive House certified architect based in Vancouver and work solely on ultra high-performance architecture; I can help you evaluate where you want to fit on the high-performance spectrum. To book a free 30-minute Diagnostic Session to discuss your needs and how a Design Diagnostic™ will provide you with a plan of action for a maximum-value, ultra high-performance renovation (or new build), please click below: