You may find your reward between the satin sheets in your new, luxuriously-decorated bedroom. Or maybe, you'll celebrate with champagne and candlelight while taking a romantic soak in that brand new jacuzzi.

But, let's get real: Even the best-laid renovation plans can go off the rails and your project could end up a Money Pit and lead to the Battle of the Sexes. That's why marriage experts warn, if you're going to renovate, be prepared for a good, rock 'em, sock 'em fight.

Arguments are inevitable, said Dr. Currie, co-host of national TV show Marriage Uncensored, who's had first-hand experience with renovation stress after building his own home with his wife.

So, to help couples to avoid the divorce courts, Currie and his co-host, Christie Rayburn, will be at the 2006 Toronto Fall Home Show, this Thursday to Sunday, at Exhibition Place.

Onstage, they'll teach couples what they need to know on how to lay a good foundation for their marriage. That's key to help the couple get through ripping wallpaper off the wall to reconstructing rooms, as they renovate their home into the palace of their dreams.

Bottom line is today renovation rage is everywhere, as our hot real estate market remains strong, despite slowing a bit and homebuyers usually renovate three years after buying.

In hot neighbourhoods in Toronto, you'll see tear-down activity everywhere. It's simple. If you can't find your palace, you buy a small bungalow on a desirable street, knock it down, then build your dream.

Also, fuelling the craze has been big gains in real estate prices, which have allowed homeowners to borrow against home equity to renovate. Cheap home-equity loans make renovating even more popular.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. estimates 40% of all homeowners will renovate this year, spending at least $1,000, with the average expenditure at $14,000. And 10% will spend more than $25,000.

But, with the explosion comes difficulty in finding a contractor, and the last thing you want is a fly-by-nighter to turn the project into a nightmare. That certainly could nail the coffin shut on your marriage or relationship.

Go to the Greater Toronto Home Builders' Association (GTHBA) website where you'll find all the advice you need, plus a list of members who promise to abide by the GTHBA code of ethics.

That includes giving you a detailed, written contract for all jobs, offering a minimum two-year warranty, carrying a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance, and having workers' compensation coverage.

And a final piece of advice. Never pay the entire amount up front. You may never see the contractor again, and for sure your project will end up in D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

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