"First things first: it's easy to get carried away when daydreaming about your renovation project, but it is very important to keep reminding yourself that you are not filming one of those home reno reality shows you've been watching for months. Everything looks less messy, less time-consuming and less expensive on TV. Unfortunately, real-life renos are nothing like a TV show. Best to adjust your expectations accordingly before you begin.
Secondly, be prepared to deal with the bumps in the road that will inevitably come along. You won't be the first person---nor the last---to have your perfect plans go off the rails at some point. No matter how meticulous you think everything has been laid out or how much troubleshooting you think you have done, you will eventually encounter something you could never have foreseen, something (or many things) will cost more than you budgeted for and you and your spouse will find yourself at odds about something. Just know that it's just part of the process and as lousy as it may feel when something goes wrong, it's also perfectly normal.
Finally, renovating a house is often a very stressful process. Regardless of whether you are hiring professionals, doing the work yourself or some combination of the two, you will find the process taxing on the best of days. It's really important to keep in mind that after all the planning and stress and decisions and changes, your reno is just a small, temporary window of time in your life. And once the paint has dried, you will hopefully love it as much as you had dreamed you would and will live happily ever after in your fabulous first home...just like they do on TV."
Amanda Lindsay and Adam Kirby-Sheppard bought their north end Halifax house in early 2013, and completely gutted it.
"Don't skip the home inspection. As a first-time buyer, you don't know what you don't know! Our home inspector saw and noticed things that we never would have---like a small patch over an old oil line, which led him to wonder if there had been a buried oil tank that had been removed at some point. Turns out there had been, and further inspection showed that there had also been some oil leakage and soil contamination, a very expensive problem to remediate. That could have been a very bad experience if we hadn't had his expertise."
Lindsay and Geoff Loomer bought their home in west end Halifax in 2010.
"Do some ground research before you make the biggest decision of your life. Go walk around the neighbourhood you are looking in at night and during the day to get a good feel for what it will be like living there. And get ready to pay more then you thought. There are a lot of extras you might not plan for, the biggest being the stupid Deed Transfer Tax---it's 1.5 percent the total cost of your home."
"Don't make impulse decisions because you are afraid some one else will make an offer before you do. Our realtor gave us great advice. "Ask yourself, would I be able to live without this house, if the answer is yes, keep looking. You'll know when you find the right one."
Beverley and Jeff Simpson bought their west-end Halifax home in 2010.
"Know what you're getting into. Closing costs can prove to be quite expensive. Consider what you can afford to pay as a monthly, weekly or bi-weekly payment. Then look at the term of the mortgage and interest rate. Mortgage brokers will gladly help you with this. Look past poor decor or paint choices, as they are easy and inexpensive to change. And be realistic. Your first home probably will not be the one you live in for the rest of your life. So certain things like proximity to work may take priority over things like square footage and space to grow into."
Holly Chessman and Keith Wilson bought their home in Lancaster Ridge, Dartmouth in 2011.