Successful renovation

At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

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At the crest of the busy renovation season, here is a guide to planning a successful one

Photography: Courtesy of Alair Homes

Spring is a great time to turn your attention to begin that renovation you’ve been putting off. If you are planning an upgrade or renovation, you are in good company. Based on Statistics Canada’s Canadian Housing Survey (2018), over one million Canadian homes are in need of major repair.

Renovations and repairs may include a smaller job, like a bathroom refresh or finishing a basement, to meet changing life needs, or maybe it’s something more substantial. Regardless of the project, understanding the process and planning is a key factor in achieving the results you want.

Articulate your wish list

Your first step should be to develop a very clear vision of what is required. Take time to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that you’d like to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Pick a pro

Then it’s time to find a professional renovator that will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance, so it is in your best interest to start this process early. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator that is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program. This means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit the website.

For most people price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but it’s important to note that you often get what you pay for. Make sure to consider the renovator’s experience, construction schedule and references. You should verify that the renovator has the appropriate licences, WSIB coverage and insurance. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Outline budget & potential permits required

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. This will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months. This is another reason to start the process early.

Get it in writing

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer. A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Remember good contracts provide protection to both parties in the event of a dispute or problem.

For more information about the nuances of planning a renovation, BILD has recently compiled a new Reno Guide to assist homeowners through the process. The Reno Guide is published with the support of the City of Toronto Environment & Energy Division and can be found on the BetterHomesTo website.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, @bildgta, or visit


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