Renovating it right | Toronto Sun

Renovating it right | Toronto Sun

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Discover home renovation, backyard trends at this year’s Home + Backyard Show

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With his trademark no-nonsense approach, go-to contractor Mike Holmes offers two simple words of advice for anyone planning to tackle a renovation: slow down.

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“For whatever reason, when everyone starts to look at something like a new kitchen, they get all excited and start running instead of walking,” the home renovation pioneer says. “The more time you take on any project, the better off you’ll be.”

With more than 20 years of experience and hundreds of home projects on his TV series, Holmes has seen the good, the bad and the ugly and will share his best success stories at the Home + Backyard Show (see sidebar).

Ask for references

For starters, don’t be afraid to see “a bunch” of contractors, he advises. “Get to know them. It’s like the Dating Game.” Before signing a contract, ask for a list of references – no less than three and at least 20 is even better.

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Talk to them and ask to see their finished projects. Ask a lot of questions, such as: did the contractor charge more money at the end, was he clean, were you happy with the process?

Only then should you get into contract negotiations. “Everything should be put in writing from beginning to end,” says Holmes. He recommends a down payment of no more than a 10 per cent and clear milestones at which you’ll make additional payments, such as once the plumbing rough-in has been approved by a building inspector.

Though many homeowners are hesitant to get building permits because they’re afraid doing so will trigger a property tax increase, Holmes believes a building permit is a must.

“Building inspectors out there are talented and know what to look for,” he says. “It’s third-party verification that the job is done right.”

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If you do run into “red flag after red flag,” Holmes reminds you that you’re the boss. “Now it’s time to get rid of that contractor. Cut your losses and bring in someone else. I hope it never gets to that stage.”

Your contractor should also agree in the contract to payment holdbacks in accordance with your province’s lien legislation. “You always want to keep 15 per cent back for 45 days (upon project completion) just in case the contractor didn’t pay any subcontractors he may have pulled in, which they usually do because they shouldn’t touch electrical or plumbing.”

New, fresh designs 

More than 250 vendors and exhibitors, including landscapers and gardening experts, will showcase building products and services, barbecues, spas and pools at the Home + Backyard Show.

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“The new year is the perfect time to think about upgrades to your home and backyard with new and fresh design ideas,” says Toronto Home Shows Show Director Sharon Donaldson.

“Visitors can indulge in some home décor retail therapy, meet with industry experts, listen to reno and gardening presentations, and find the products and services they need to boost the value of their property and their mood within it.”

New attractions include the Ask a Gardener booth, where horticulturalists from Mississauga Master Gardeners and Etobicoke Master Gardeners will share gardening tips and best practices for caring for all-season plants. The Children’s Garden invites visitors to make a pinecone bird feeder and learn about good versus bad bugs.

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Drop by Ask an Expert, presented by RenoMark and Reno+Decor magazine, for free 15-minute, one-on-one consultations with home renovation and home design experts like Shaunn Lipsey.

At the DIY Centre, Toronto Home Show’s resident design and renovation ambassadors and HGTV Canada’s Desta Ostapyk, Jordan Spear and Mark Rason will offer lessons on the basics of using power tools and how to tackle simple DIY and home improvement projects.

Organize That founder Effy Terry, featured on Hoarders: Canada, will appear daily in the lounge to share tips on how to declutter your home and create functional spaces.  Other speakers will cover topics such as Planning Your New Laneway Suite, Basement Renovations, Renovation Tips to Save Time & Money, and Colour & Design Trends.

The 2024 Home + Backyard Show (formerly the Home + Reno Show) returns to The International Centre in Mississauga from Friday, Feb. 2 to Sunday, Feb. 4. Home renovation pioneer Mike Holmes will discuss Renovating It Right on Saturday, Feb. 3 at noon in The Speakers Lounge, presented by the free streaming TV channel Homeful,

Visit to learn more and to purchase tickets.

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