Transform your home with complete confidence!

Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to sit through a home transformation show without thinking about the changes you would like to do to your own home. These shows are both a blessing and a curse to a contractor. They inspire their audience to jump head first into a renovation project, which can be great for business. On the other hand, the impractical renovation outcomes these shows produce can create issues for both the renovator and their clients.

After watching many of these shows we become well-informed on the design elements of a renovation. But the “no time at all” renovation portrayed in an hour-long program can unfortunately set unrealistic timeline expectations for contractors.

Most home transformation shows follow similar formats to produce the “wow-factor” results, and a lot can be learned by looking at this process with a realistic perspective. The show begins with a client who is unhappy or overwhelmed with their current living situation. A contractor appears to make their problems disappear, however, as the show progresses they uncover several underlying issues that hinder or halt their renovation schedule. These problems are unavoidable and often significantly increase the client’s budget. In the end, the clients work through their issues with the guidance of the professional renovator and receive their happily-ever-after renovation! All within 30-60 minutes.

Obtaining these same results in the real world can still be achieved, even without a television production crew and magic editing. All it takes is some research to understand the renovation process, an open mind and knowing when to work with professionals.

Here are a few things to consider before you begin your renovation project:


Find the right contractor

Perform thorough research on your top prospective companies before setting up a meeting. Do this by finding their Better Business Bureau score, checking to see if they are members of professional associations like the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Nova Scotia (CHBA-NS) and also searching their company or personal name in the Registry of Joint Stocks. This will provide a record of whether or not the company is in good standing, changed names multiple times or has a history of defaulting on their renewals. Catching this information in the beginning will save you a lot of wasted time and money in the long run.

Once you have made your list of top picks, you should set up a face-to-face interview with the contractors, before making your final decision. Building a solid relationship with mutual trust is a key component to the success of your renovation project. Should an unavoidable problem arise, a great contractor will notify you of the issue immediately, walk you through the process, and provide reasonable solutions.

Create a solid budget

Creating a realistic budget with lots of wiggle room is essential when executing a renovation project. If we have learned anything from home transformation shows it’s that there is always more to a project then meets the eye. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst while setting your budget will save you heartache in the end. Talk to your contractor about what types of problems could arise and what is a realistic dollar amount to budget if you would need to fix this problem.

Renovate for the future

Investing in quality and classic features will aid in resale value of the home down the road. By sticking with a contemporary design and adding trendy accessories to your decor you will avoid having to re-do this process down the road when trends change (think of the pastel coloured toilet bowls).

It is also proactive to think about modifying your home with “Aging in Place” features. These could include seats or grab bars in showers, main level laundry rooms, washrooms with higher toilets and extra space to accommodate a wheelchair, or lowering cabinets to reduce the strain of bending and stretching.


There is a lot of information to consider before starting a renovation project. Planning can become overwhelming if you do not know where to start. The CHBA-NS has developed a series of homeowner consumer protection sessions that break down some of the information needed to begin a home renovation or building project into manageable sections. These sessions will provide homeowners with the information to make better decisions before beginning, allowing for a better experience throughout the renovation process.

All sessions are held at no charge to participants. Attendees will receive a package of resource material and have the opportunity to hear industry experts address topics that will help them with their new home or renovation projects.



Sherry Donovan

Sherry Donovan

Sherry Donovan is Communications Director for the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association. She is a regular contributer to various local media and currently has columns appearing in Halifax Metro News and The Chronicle Herald's Homesetc publication.