Industry Expert: BILD – Weathering a Winter Reno
by Bryan Tuckey
Best practices to ensure a winter renovation proceeds smoothly despite cold weather challenges
Winter might seem like an unusual time to undertake a renovation but with the right knowledge and a bit of preparation it can be a great time to add value to your home. Although we are at the end of this winter season, keep these helpful tips top of mind and ensure a future winter home improvement project proceeds as smoothly as possible.
“The secret to a successful winter renovation is good planning and working closely with your renovator,” says Sam Lapidus, RenoMark renovator and chair of BILD’s Renovation and Custom Builder Council. Talking to your renovator in advance about potential challenges can help you save time and money in the long run. Snow and cold weather are two of the biggest factors in a winter renovation and they require precautionary measures so nothing is left to chance.
Major renovations often require you to move out of your home for a few weeks. To ensure that your contractor has easy access to and from your home, you’ll need to make arrangements for shoveling snow and salting steps in your absence. Some renovation companies may offer the service but you’ll need to discuss it in advance. It may come at an added cost, so make sure it is noted in your renovation contract.
When you move out of your home it will likely cool down significantly, even if the heat is still on. This increases the chance of water freezing inside your pipes, which could cause them to burst. To minimize the risk, have a plumber heat the water line coming into your house or call your municipality to shut the water off at the street side.
Homeowners doing a winter renovation in semi-detached houses or townhomes need to be mindful of how it may affect their neighbours. These types of homes have shared walls, and if the temperature in your home drops significantly, it can affect the comfort level of those living on the other side of the wall. If the shared wall is not properly insulated, talk to your renovator about installing some temporary insulation to prevent heat loss. This is another issue that should be discussed in advance as it may result in additional fees.
Special precautions may be required when renovating homes with flat roofs. Major renovations or additions may compromise the structural durability of the home. Snow can build up on the roof, and if your home is not structurally finished, it may not hold up the weight. For an added fee, your renovator can have someone shovel the snow or have an electrician install a specialized heater. After the renovation you can choose whether to remove the heater or leave it to prevent snow permanently.
It is very important that your contract outlines the full scope of work and all associated costs. Avoid renovators who urge you to forego a written contract. It’s a sign that you are not working with a professional. Verbal agreements make it hard for you to hold your renovator accountable for sub-par work and you will not have a point of reference if there is a conflict over payment.
Make sure you always work with a professional renovator. There are hundreds of them across the GTA. A good place to find one is at renomark.ca—home of the national RenoMark program. All RenoMark renovators agree to abide by a code of conduct, which holds them to a number of obligations. In addition to providing a written contract, they offer a minimum two-year warranty, are covered by at least $2 million worth of liability insurance and carry all applicable licences and permits.
Your home is your largest asset so it deserves a pro, no matter what time of year it is.
|Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association and a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments.|