Tag Archives: Dave Wilkes

Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

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Plan Ahead: BILD president shares insider tips to ensure your renovation comes up roses

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family, and that it is updated with features and designs that match our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first-hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor, and putting into practice what the Building and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately, are more common than anyone would like to think. The end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road, the process went relatively smoothly.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Know your budget, and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Chances are, as you proceed with your renovation, you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.
  • Choose your renovation contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB). Also, they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).
  • When interviewing potential renovation contractors, make sure that they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references from previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB coverage are important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you, as the homeowner, could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.
  • Make sure you have a comprehensive written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want, and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website for tips that outline some of the most common terms and features you will want to make sure are included in your contract.
  • As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your renovation contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing, and sometimes older, structure or home. When you do make changes, make sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

Fortunately, my overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember: you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic, so why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a nonprofessional just to save a few dollars?

David 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, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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Good news for the GTA

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Good news for the GTA

The Housing Supply Action Plan (Plan) announced by the Government of Ontario on May 2 represents the first major step by any provincial government to address the supply challenges facing the housing market and their effects on affordability. The actions announced recognize that the “tax and restrict” approaches taken by previous and other levels of governments have simply fuelled the generational challenge faced by many in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and other large Canadian cities.

Layers of bureaucracy, outdated zoning, and complex policies and procedures have created structural barriers to the efficient operation of the housing market that have resulted in a generational shortfall of housing. These barriers delay development of new homes, add costs and have contributed to the run-up in housing costs experienced over the last decade. On average it now takes 10 years to build a typical highrise project and 11 years to complete a lowrise project in the GTA.

It is estimated that since 2006 the region fell short approximately 98,000 units versus forecasts, and is now falling behind by nearly 10,000 additional units per year. In addition, demand has increased as the GTA has become one of the fastest growing regions in North America with an estimated 115,000 new residents arriving every year. The population of the GTA is set to grow by 40 per cent or an estimated 9.7 million people by 2041. Residents in the area looking to buy their first homes and renters will be impacted the most.

Ontario’s new Housing Supply Action Plan takes meaningful steps to try to balance the housing market through supply and speed. First, it has recognized that the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is not working for anyone, as evidenced by the nearly 1,000 cases and nearly 100,000 housing units that are stuck waiting for adjudication. Clarifying rules and increasing resources for the tribunal and being able to proceed with even 50 per cent of the units currently before the tribunal will go a long way to address the existing housing shortfall.

Second, the Plan acknowledges that it takes far too long to get approvals and looks to reduce duplication, cut red tape and speed up the development approval process. This will enable the industry to unlock housing supply and bring new product to market to meet demand. At the same time the Plan acknowledges that speed cannot come at the expense of other things that matter and explicitly recognizes the importance of the Greenbelt, cultural heritage assets and key employment and agricultural lands.

Third, the Plan adjusts provincial policy to encourage a mix of homes and to make it easier and faster to build more housing near transit. This will encourage more of the missing middle type housing (townhomes, stacked townhomes and midrise) so sorely needed in the GTA.

Lastly, the proposed changes also acknowledge the cumulative effect that taxes, fees and charges have on housing affordability. For market housing, providing the ability to lock in development charges early in the process increases predictability for the industry and consumers. Deferring development charges until occupancy provides greater incentive to build rental units and special provisions for social and not-for-profit housing will also lower the upfront cost of building.

The beneficiaries of these changes are the people and businesses of Ontario. The benefits for the average resident include having a greater choice in housing at the right price for them and their children. A healthy market that ensures that housing will not be a barrier to attracting and retaining the right talent will benefit businesses looking to grow.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

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Savvy savings: Energy-efficient tips for your home that will ultimately save you money

Your home may look the same as your neighbours’ home, but it may be costing you more money to maintain it. The assumption that all homes are created equal is not true. Within the GTA, there are homes that were built in the 1800s and have since been renovated 20 times or more. Let me help explain where you might be wasting money every month and provide you with some tips to help improve the energy efficiency of your home on your next home renovation.

Energy efficiency in your home is a combination of many different parts (electricity, heating, cooling, air leakage and insulation). Making your home more energy efficient in an integrated way can be very complicated and needs to consider all aspects of your home. You can start this process on your own with a few easy steps.

Electricity

Managing your electricity costs can be as simple as switching your light bulbs to LED. This alone can save you over 60 per cent of your lighting electricity use. You can go one step further and use newer light switches that have a dimming feature, occupancy sensor (it will turn the light off if you leave it on) and smart-home features. These light switches cost more upfront, but they will save you money in the long run – especially if you have a person in your home that always forgets to turn off the light when they leave the room!

Heating and cooling

Make sure that your thermostat is installed in a central location without anything blocking it. If you have a curtain or something else blocking the airflow around it, then it will not register the temperature in your home properly and lead to over-heating or over-cooling. Don’t forget to check the expiry date on your thermostat! Just like smoke detectors, there is a practical life expectancy for these devices. I suggest that after 10 years of use, you should consider replacing it.

As for the temperature setting, this is a personal preference. Some people like a warmer or cooler house, and control of that is completely up to you. But consider your temperature settings for when you are not at home, and adjust your temperature setting by 10 degrees Celsius. Your system won’t turn on when you don’t need it to, so this will save you money in operational costs and also increase the lifespan of your heating and cooling system. A Smart thermostat allows you to return your home to a comfortable temperature, firing the system 30 minutes before you arrive.

Your passive choices

After addressing the more proactive things, like your thermostat settings and lighting systems, you should look at the passive parts of your home that are costing you money. Let’s look at air leaks. If the seals around windows and doors are leaking, then you are losing valuable heated or cooled air all the time. This can be fixed simply by replacing the gaskets or applying caulking. You can also eliminate air leakage and create a much better building envelope by rebuilding old exterior walls – integrating a well-detailed air and vapour retarder and adding insulation to create a more comfortable living space.

Using a professional renovator to help guide you through the process of making your home more energy efficient will help save you money. Always remember to obtain a detailed contract and get building and electrical permits when they are required, this will protect you and ensure that the work is completed according to code.

David 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, Facebook, BILD’s official blog.


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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

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Providing homes for hardworking individuals

In hindsight, the signs were there all along: A rapid escalation of land values, the slowing of new development across the Greater Toronto Area, and a rise in community resistance against new development in existing neighbourhoods. This is the legacy of the previous provincial government’s Growth Plan and housing policies in the GTA. Our current challenges around housing supply and affordability are the result.

The new provincial government is looking to make much-needed changes, even as critics raise predictable objections. Never mind that these same critics never supported any development plan nor are likely do to so, and never mind the disheartening prospects confronting those looking for a new home or apartment in the GTA. Nor does it matter to these pundits that the region is growing annually by 115,000 people, all requiring housing, places to work, schools, and commuting infrastructure.

The fact is, despite the critics’ objections, the changes proposed by the government are quite measured and focus on two areas. The first is a housing supply action plan that outlines how we get more homes for rent and purchase built faster. The government is looking at proposals to remove barriers and speed up development, as it currently takes more than 11 years to complete an average lowrise development and 10 years to complete an average high rise development in the GTA.

The government is also looking for proposals on ways to encourage “missing middle housing” – the townhomes and low and midrise apartments that provide gentle density in existing neighbourhoods and can serve as starter homes at a lower price point. Finally, the government is looking for proposals to lower the cost of development by addressing the cost of land and the charges added to new developments. This in turn will positively impact the affordability of new homes.

The second area the government is focusing on is adjusting the Growth Plan, the policy that guides where and how development occurs across the GTA and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. One matter under consideration is adjusting density targets — the number of people and jobs required per hectare — a direct determinant of built form and housing mix. The current government has rightly pointed out that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and that treating development in communities such as Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo in a manner similar to Toronto makes no sense. Other proposed changes include giving municipalities some flexibility to develop housing on lands that have previously been designated as employment areas and on small pieces of land that are currently outside their settlement area boundaries, and continuing to encourage density around major transit station areas. If adopted, these changes will give more flexibility to municipalities and will encourage the right types of homes to be built and the right density based on the infrastructure available.

These proposed changes are all about one thing: Providing homes for hardworking individuals and families across a growing region. Our current generational housing challenge has been 14 years in the making, and through these actions the provincial government is making good on its promise of working to increase housing supply in our region while continuing to protect the environment.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). bild.ca

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Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

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Top Honours for BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

by Dave Wilkes

On the opening day of the National Home Show, the GTA’s top renovators and custom-home builders were recognized by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) at its annual Renovation and Custom Home Awards, which took place on March 8th at the AllStream Centre.

Created by BILD in 1999, the awards program recognizes renovation general contractors for professionalism, quality of work and industry leadership. Nominees are evaluated by a team of industry professionals. The Renovator of the Year award, which recognizes the renovator who sets the standard for the rest of the sector in leadership and commitment to customer service and contribution to the overall image of the renovation industry, is also decided based on survey results from clients.

This year, the Renovator of the Year award was presented to Golden Bee Homes.

“Golden Bee Homes’ clients speak highly of the excellence of the company’s work as well as their professionalism, customer service and courtesy,” says Justin Sherwood, BILD’s vice-president of communications and stakeholder relations and RenoMark program manager. “Owner Jack Torossian gives back generously to the industry as the Chair of BILD’s Renovator and Custom Builder Council and volunteers as a presenter for our renovation seminars for consumers.”

Best Bathroom Renovation was awarded to All Angles Renovation Ltd. for truly customizing their client’s space by using the space efficiently. There is plenty of natural light in the washroom with a window next to the tub and a skylight in the shower.

The Best Kitchen Renovation went to Binns Kitchen + Bath Design. The kitchen has a unique style application and incorporates an avant-garde range hood. The use of the space and the creativity tie all the elements together. Another unique aspect of this kitchen is a stove wall that includes upper cabinets unconnected to the ceiling.

Best Renovation (no addition) under $150,000 went to Alair Homes – Aurora/Newmarket for a major home transformation and upgrade on a modest budget. The kitchen was relocated to achieve a very functional cooking environment, while opening up the remaining spaces, significantly increasing natural light.

The Best Renovation (no addition) over $250,000 went to Bachly Construction for a stunning wine cellar. Extensive thought and creativity are evident in this design and the renovation, from the logistics of excavation to the creativity of using a drawbridge which provides access to portions of the wine wall.

The newly created Best Innovative Renovation award went to Kinswater Construction for creating a simple and timeless space, while incorporating the client’s ancestral heritage into the project. The renovator overcame structural and layout obstacles to create a functional layout that is truly original.

SevernWoods Construction was presented with the Best Custom Home award for creating a modern, but warm and inviting home. The materials chosen, like the use of local stone on the exterior and interior, help to achieve a good balance within the neighbourhood.

“This year’s winners exemplify the quality, innovation, creativity and integrity that homeowners can expect when working with professional RenoMark renovators and custom builders,” says Sherwood.

All award winners are members of the national RenoMark program, which connects homeowners with professional renovators who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct.

BILD would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.

Contact information for all RenoMark renovators as well as a complete list of the winners can be found on their website.


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All the right moves, Ontario’s update of development

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All the right moves, Ontario’s update of development

Ontario’s update of development and housing plans is the right move

In hindsight, the signs were there all along: A rapid escalation of land values, the slowing of new development across the Greater Toronto Area, and a rise in community resistance against new development in existing neighbourhoods. This is the legacy of the previous provincial government’s Growth Plan and housing policies in the GTA. Our current challenges around housing supply and affordability are the result.

The new government is looking to make much-needed changes, even as critics raise predictable objections. Never mind that these same critics never supported any development plan nor are likely do to so, and never mind the disheartening prospects confronting those looking for a new home or apartment in the GTA. Nor does it matter to these pundits that the region is growing annually by 115,000 people, all requiring housing, places to work, schools, and commuting infrastructure.

The fact is, despite the critics’ objections, the changes proposed by the government are quite measured and focus on two areas. The first is a housing supply action plan that outlines how we get more homes for rent and purchase built faster. The government is looking at proposals to remove barriers and speed up development, as it currently takes more than 11 years to complete an average lowrise development and 10 years to complete an average highrise development in the GTA.

The government is also looking for proposals on ways to encourage “missing middle housing” – the townhomes and low- and midrise apartments that provide gentle density in existing neighbourhoods and can serve as starter homes at a lower price point.

Finally, the government is looking for proposals to lower the cost of development by addressing the cost of land and the charges added to new developments. This, in turn, will positively impact the affordability of new homes.

The second area the government is focusing on is adjusting the Growth Plan, the policy that guides where and how development occurs across the GTA and the Greater Golden Horseshoe. One matter under consideration is adjusting density targets – the number of people and jobs required per hectare – a direct determinant of built form and housing mix. The current government has rightly pointed out that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, and that treating development in communities such as Brantford, Hamilton and Waterloo in a manner similar to Toronto makes no sense. Other proposed changes include giving municipalities some flexibility to develop housing on lands that have previously been designated as employment areas and on small pieces of land that are currently outside their settlement area boundaries, and continuing to encourage density around major transit station areas. If adopted, these changes will give more flexibility to municipalities and will encourage the right types of homes to be built and the right density based on the infrastructure available.

These proposed changes are all about one thing: Providing homes for hardworking individuals and families across a growing region. Our current generational housing challenge has been 14 years in the making and through these actions the provincial government is making good on its promise of working to increase housing supply in our region while continuing to protect the environment.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Development in the GTA

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Development in the GTA

Recently I completed 16 months as the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BILD). With 1,500 member companies, BILD GTA is amongst the largest local home building associations in Canada, and with the level of residential and commercial construction occurring across the region, the time has flown by. A consistent occurrence during this period, however, has been the number of questions I get from members of the public about development and homebuilding in the region. Residential and commercial construction is highly visible, cranes dot the skyline from Mississauga to Pickering, and so it’s only natural that residents want to know what’s happening in their communities and why change is occurring. They have questions, such as “Is all this development necessary?” (Yes, we have a housing shortage in the GTA), “Who decides what gets built where?,” “Why in my neighbourhood?,” and perennially “Why is new development so dense?”

After all, that is a primary role of an industry association, to act as conduit between media, the public and the industry. Invariably, two things come out of these interactions. The first is that we get a better understanding and appreciation of the perspectives, concerns and questions of the nearly seven million residents of the region. We use this to inform our communications, columns, and interviews, as chances are the perspectives and questions are more broadly shared. In fact, we often reflect these perspectives in our interactions with municipal and provincial governments. The second is, in our responses we are able to provide answers and information. The development and construction process is complex, lengthy and highly regulated, and more often than not these inquiries are informed by perceptions and information people have gathered through the “grapevine.” Following our interactions, BILD GTA frequently receives a follow-up thanking us for the response, indicating we provided information that was not previously known. While the interaction may not change the concerns that gave rise to the inquiry in the first place, it always leads to a more informed discussion and debate.

The reality is that while the pace of development will ebb and flow year to year with economic cycles and other factors, the long-term trajectory will be for more residential and commercial development across the region. With the population of the GTA expected to grow 40 per cent by 2041 or approximately 115,000 new residents every year, providing places for all these new residents to live, work and play will require a concerted and prolonged development effort. This will require unprecedented levels of co-ordination and partnership between all levels of government, the industry and residents, and key to that is informed discussion and debate. The past 16 months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to continuing to work with this dynamic industry for many years to come. Please keep asking us your questions and we will continue to answer them to the best of our ability. Together, we can have constructive dialogue that ultimately helps to inform and shape our region as it assumes its rightful place as a world class city.

DAVE WILKES is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Bild.ca

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Development in the GTA

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Development in the GTA

Informed discussion and debate at all levels key to shaping our region

Recently I completed 16 months as the President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association of the Greater Toronto Area (BILD). With 1,500 member companies, BILD GTA is amongst the largest local home building associations in Canada, and with the level of residential and commercial construction occurring across the region, the time has flown by. A consistent occurrence during this period, however, has been the number of questions I get from members of the public about development and homebuilding in the region.

Residential and commercial construction is highly visible, cranes dot the skyline from Mississauga to Pickering, and so it’s only natural that residents want to know what’s happening in their communities and why change is occurring. They have questions, such as “Is all this development necessary?” (Yes, we have a housing shortage in the GTA), “Who decides what gets built where?,” “Why in my neighbourhood?,” and perennially “Why is new development so dense?”

BILD GTA answers every inquiry that comes in to the best of our ability.

After all, that is a primary role of an industry association, to act as conduit between media, the public and the industry. Invariably, two things come out of these interactions.

The first is that we get a better understanding and appreciation of the perspectives, concerns and questions of the nearly seven million residents of the region. We use this to inform our communications, columns, and interviews, as chances are the perspectives and questions are more broadly shared. In fact, we often reflect these perspectives in our interactions with municipal and provincial governments.

The second is, in our responses we are able to provide answers and information. The development and construction process is complex, lengthy and highly regulated, and more often than not these inquiries are informed by perceptions and information people have gathered through the “grapevine.” Following our interactions, BILD GTA frequently receives a follow-up thanking us for the response, indicating we provided information that was not previously known. While the interaction may not change the concerns that gave rise to the inquiry in the first place, it always leads to a more informed discussion and debate.

The reality is that while the pace of development will ebb and flow year to year with economic cycles and other factors, the long-term trajectory will be for more residential and commercial development across the region. With the population of the GTA expected to grow 40 per cent by 2041 or approximately 115,000 new residents every year, providing places for all these new residents to live, work and play will require a concerted and prolonged development effort. This will require unprecedented levels of co-ordination and partnership between all levels of government, the industry and residents, and key to that is informed discussion and debate.

The past 16 months have gone by in the blink of an eye, and I look forward to continuing to work with this dynamic industry for many years to come. Please keep asking us your questions and we will continue to answer them to the best of our ability. Together, we can have constructive dialogue that ultimately helps to inform and shape our region as it assumes its rightful place as a world class city.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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Three opportunities to positively impact housing in 2019

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In 2018, the underlying issues impacting housing supply in the GTA and in turn the impacts on housing affordability, cost of living and its broader societal impact were a defining part of the public debate of the future of our region. Population growth combined with restrictive regulations, bureaucratic red tape, added costs and infrastructure challenges have created a generational challenge for the region. As we look forward, there are three opportunities to have a positive impact on these issues in 2019.

Housing Supply Action Plan

In late November, the government of Ontario announced that it would be developing a Housing Supply Action Plan. The provincial government rightly recognized that strong demand for housing and limited supply in Ontario has resulted in rapidly rising housing costs over the last few years, and that in fast growing areas like the GTA, high housing costs and rents are squeezing families and individuals out of the market. The Province is looking at what can be done to speed up the approval process so new housing can be built at a faster pace, how to encourage the right housing mix to be built, and the impact that high land costs and fees and taxes are having on housing prices. In addition, the action plan will look at home rental and ownership, not simply one or the other. These important initiatives are a great opportunity to begin to address the fundamental causes of housing affordability.

Revisit the stress test

While the issue of housing affordability is firmly on the provincial agenda, pressure is now growing on the federal government to consider the impacts of its mandated mortgage stress test. The program has succeeded in balancing the hot 2017 market, but is having a disproportionate impact on young and first-time homebuyers. The test, in effect, reduces the maximum amount of a mortgage that a home purchaser can borrow by roughly 20 per cent. Young and first-time homebuyers are the most likely to borrow close to their maximums, however, they also have the longest horizons for repayment and are often in the growth phase of their careers and earning potential. A growing chorus of industry professionals are urging Ottawa to fine-tune the approach and perhaps the potential for a one-time, longer amortization period for first-time buyers can provide some relief in 2019.

Lastly, municipalities can no longer ignore the issue or the role they must play as a partner to industry and the other levels of government in finding meaningful solutions to this issue.

Municipal involvement

During the fall municipal elections, voters in the GTA ranked housing affordability as a top priority for new local governments and the need to increase housing supply as a key mechanism to address  affordability was supported by nine out of 10 respondents to an IPSOS poll conducted by the industry last fall. With new councils and mandates in place, now is the time for new ideas.

This must be the year of action on this issue. With the arrival of 115,000 new residents to the GTA every year, and as we fall short in providing new housing at the levels required, we cannot afford to wait.

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on: Twitter.com/BILDGTA) Facebook.com/BILDGTA YouTube.com/BILDGTA and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca

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Industry Expert

Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

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Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

You meant to redo your kitchen and finish your basement last summer, but the warm days came and went and your renovation project remained only an idea. Not to worry, because now is the perfect time to start planning to make your renovation a reality this summer.

With a generous lead time, you can afford to be thorough with every step in the renovation process, increasing your chances of success. The first step is 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 would be nice 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.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

Research a reputable renovator

Next, find a professional renovator who will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator who is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program, which means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit renomark.ca.

Price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but experience, construction schedule and references are just as crucial. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Plans & permits

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. These 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 – another reason it’s good to start the process early.

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.

Get it in writing

A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Avoid renovators who offer to work without a contract, even if they promise to skip the HST or offer another incentive. They may not be paying workers’ compensation or carry adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.

My final piece of advice is to spend some time on RenoMark.ca and read the articles in our Ask a Renovator series – they cover various aspects of renovation in more detail.

Renovating your home is exciting and rewarding. And as you can see, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare for this year’s renovation. By starting early, you will have your renovator team selected, contract signed, and permits and approvals in place by the time renovation season returns.

David 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, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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