The following is an excerpt from the July issue of Our House Magazine.
Chatting with Sebastian Clovis about home renovations, it’s impossible to miss his enthusiasm. He’s splitting a downtown Toronto single-family home into a duplex. It may not sound like the most stimulating project, but for Clovis this is his element. He quickly rattles off all the neat parts of the project, from separating the HVAC system to soundproofing a building that’s now in two.
“It’s a really exciting project,” he told Our House Magazine in a recent interview.
It’s probably a good thing Clovis is passionate about his work, because his time in front of the camera as an HGTV star has made him a target of fans who want his advice, whether it’s at the gym or the grocery store.
“I’m known for getting into conversations that are way too long,” he said. “I would say I’m one of the contractors who’s given out the most amount of renovation advice in the steam room in the gym.”
With all jokes aside, Clovis maintains he’s blessed for the opportunities he had since he made a turn to do television. And he has no problems dispensing valuable advice on the subject of renovations.
Patience is everything in a home
It’s easy to spot the imperfections as soon as you move into a new place. While Clovis points out people have a natural inclination to change and customize their home as soon as they move in, he sees it differently. He recommends people start by tackling the items suggested in a home inspection, like the roof, windows, and siding.
“Do the things that are going to protect your home in the long-term first,” he said.
Clovis believes those improvements will give you the opportunity to spend a little time in the home. That’s time to see how the flow works with your family, how the sunlight comes through the windows and to figure out how to make efficient changes.
He said a lot of people want an ultra-modern kitchen after watching TV shows and seeing them in magazines, but they may not be a fit for the character of your home.
“You don’t want to spend $60,000 on a kitchen and two years later you’re frustrated with yourself because you put the wrong kitchen in there,” he said.
While people always like to get their hands a little dirty around the home, when asked whether people should DIY, Clovis is cautious in his response. The man who hosted his own DIY show said he’s all for people building benches, chairs, and tables, but bigger projects that touch on the envelope of the building should be left to the pros.
“If you’re not a professional builder, you don’t have too much business messing with the structure of the home,” Clovis said.
While some projects may look easy on TV, the handyman believes even laying flooring should be left to professionals. If anything, it might save money in the long run. He noted with the ever increasing costs of materials, wasting material on a failed installation attempt will burn through a budget. If you’re going to splurge on beautiful floors or tiles, spend the money to get them installed properly, he said.
And if you’re thinking about a budget, Clovis said he follows the golden rule of a 20 per cent contingency above and beyond the quote. That contingency is critical because you don’t know what’s going to happen once the walls are opened up.
He also suggested a contingency is important to accommodate for evolving design plans, adding often by the time a project is half way through, people start thinking about changes. And when it comes to his clients, he sets up a payment schedule with benchmarks in place to make sure payment is made when a certain amount of work is complete.
“It’s great to know when payments are going to be due and what they’ll be,” he said. “It makes everyone more comfortable when you have that in place.”
Courtesy of Jeremy Deutsch, Lead Writer, Dominion Lending Centres