Mediaplanet What is a cost-effective renovation most home-owners could afford that would add the most value to one’s home?

Scott McGillivray: Replace the front door. A new steel front door is the number one source of remodelling return on investment, with fiberglass front doors following closely behind. If you can’t afford it consider a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. Never underestimate the importance of curb appeal when it comes to selling your home.

MP What renovations add the most value to one’s home?

SM: Kitchens and bathrooms are still at the top of the list when it comes to value added renovations. Minor kitchen and bath renos usually achieve about 75 percent return on investment, but I’ve seen some achieve as much as 200 percent. As long as the renovation is done properly and it’s part of a well-maintained, upgraded home it’s a pretty safe bet. Just be careful not to price yourself out of the neighbourhood. Also, if you have an unfinished basement it’s well worth the cost to finish it. Square footage is at a premium in Toronto and a finished basement can add significant value.

MP What are some D.I.Y. renovations home-owners can undertake to add value to their home?

SM: The term D.I.Y. is always a little subjective because people have different skill levels. I’ve seen people who are comfortable taking on large-scale renovation projects alone, and I’ve seen others who can’t change a doorknob without difficulty. If your skills are limited, stick with simple projects like painting. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour can do wonders. If you’re a little more confident with your skills try installing new backsplash or countertop in the kitchen. Putting down a new floor is also achievable for people with basic handyman skills. But honestly, the hardest part of DIY projects is knowing what products to invest in. Most people get overwhelmed with all the choices, which is why I started a new approval program to recognize quality products and services. With the McGillivray Mark program homeowners can use my experience to choose products I already use and trust. I only approve products I have personal experience with so it takes some of the worry away.

"Most people get overwhelmed with all the choices, which is why I started a new approval program to recognize quality products and services."

MP Cosmetic or practical renovations, which add the most to re-sale value?

SM: It depends. People aren’t going to notice things like an upgraded electrical system or improved insulation when touring a house, but these things are very important to the overall value of a home. Masking problems will only cause headaches come inspection time, so ultimately you need to take care of the practical before the cosmetic. As the old saying goes, “you can put lipstick on a pig…” However, if the mechanics of the house are in decent condition doing some cosmetic upgrades can be hugely beneficial. Replacing laminate counters with quartz, or replacing linoleum floors with hardwood can lend a high-end look and offer great R.O.I. And, don’t forget about the upgrades that check off both boxes. New windows for example offer both a cosmetic and practical upgrade.

MP A particular issue in the Greater Toronto Area is the amount of space available in one’s home. What are some simple renovations one can undertake to maximize space in one’s home?

SM: An unfinished basement is a huge waste of space. If you’ve got a basement it’s well worth the money to finish it and include living and sleeping areas as well as another bathroom if you can. Adding extra bedrooms and bathrooms can add significant value to a home. That said, in condos and apartments there’s obviously a greater challenge, so it’s all about smart use of space. One of my favourite space-saving tricks is to install pocket doors wherever possible. You can save a lot of floor space and it makes an area feel much bigger. Some other things you can do to make a space feel bigger is to install more continuous surfaces. So in a kitchen for example use the same stone for the backsplash that you do for the counter. And if you have an island consider a waterfall counter that continues down the side of the island. In a bathroom consider a curbless shower and a glass shower door to make the space feel more open. Continuous surfaces and clear sightlines can make spaces feel open and airier, making it seem like there’s more space — even when there isn’t.

For more great ideas from Scott, and to hear first about his upcoming projects, visit and follow him on Twitter/Instagram @smcgillivray and on Facebook.