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What To Do When You Outgrow Your Home

When kids come along, is it better to buy bigger or build bigger?

As young families grow, many find that their homes suddenly become too small. At this point you have two options: renovate to increase the size of your current home or move to a bigger place.We asked two families who have been through the process for their tips on getting more space.


Staying put, building bigger.


Donna Lidster and her family needed more space after the birth of their daughter. For almost two years, Donna and her husband, Scott, tried to find a bigger house in their neighbourhood.


“We really wanted to stay in the area but didn’t love any of the houses within our budget,” Lidster says. “We decided to renovate the whole house and build a second storey, to have the perfect house for us.”


Renovating is a complicated process, but there are a few strategies and tips that can help things go smoothly.


Hire a trustworthy builder. “We had heard nightmare stories about contractors who took a lot longer to finish than they’d promised or charged a lot more than the original quote. Before hiring our builder, we talked to three couples who had hired him for the same kind of project. They loved what he had done, and he finished the work for us on time and on budget,” Donna says.


Plan in advance. “We spent a year preparing. We had to get designs drawn up and building permits approved, as well storing our stuff and finding a place to live for four months,” Donna says.


Talk to your personal banker. Find out the best financing solution for you. A refinanced mortgage may be a cheaper solution than a home equity line of credit.


Hire an interior designer. It will make the whole process a lot less stressful, and a professional designer’s discounts with home suppliers can save you almost as much as the designer’s fees.


Involve your neighbours. It’s polite to keep neighbours in the loop, and it also makes them less likely to block your development plans.


Be prepared for disruption. “If you have to move out during work, try and stay close to home,” says Donna. “Contractors often want to run things by you, so it will save time if you are nearby.”


Ask your builder about renovation rebates. If you improve your home’s energy efficiency you can get up to $6,000 in rebates.


When buying bigger is the only option.


For Tim Faber and his wife, Leanne, renovations were not an option when their family outgrew their two-storey, semi-detached house. There was no space to go out or upwards, so they had no choice but to move.


They quickly discovered that any bigger houses within their budget would require some renovations, so they had to factor that into their plans.

Moving is a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are a few tips for getting it right.  


Shop around for the best mortgage rates or hire a mortgage broker. “I went with a mortgage broker because my bank just wouldn’t offer me competitive rates,” says Tim. Although many people go to brokers, they miss out on the advice-based services that visiting a banking specialist provides. Visiting a branch representative can help ensure that you are getting proper advice on how to successfully meet all your goals. You can check on First Calgary’s current mortgage rates here.


Talk to a banking specialist to discuss the best way to finance your purchase. An expert can advise you on the best mortgage for your circumstances and help you decide whether a line of credit is the best option to pay for any future renovations.


Be fully aware of all of the costs and fees. Keep track of what you will need to pay for your realtor, lawyer, appraisal, survey, removals and property/mortgage registration. If your current mortgage isn’t portable, your bank may charge you hefty penalties for breaking it.


Factor in your commission costs. Negotiate the commission rate with your realtor or consider flat-fee, full-service realtors. Even a 1% reduction in commission can save you thousands of dollars.


Consider a line of credit. If you buy a house that will need renovations, consider including a line of credit when you arrange the mortgage. “We should have arranged for a line of credit when we got the mortgage on the new house,” says Tim. “It would have saved us a lot of time and money.”


Get free advice from your local Credit Union.


Before you make any decisions, have a quick chat with your First Calgary personal banker. Whether buying a bigger home or building more space these banking specialists are always happy to give advice.


We'll help you work out the best financing solution for your situation, save money, move or renovate with less stress, and keep your retirement plans on track.


Book and appointment