Tag Archives: RenoMark

Toronto tour of laneway housing

Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

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Tour of Toronto’s laneway housing

Photography: Craig Race Architecture Inc.

A few weeks ago, we took BILD’s RenoMark renovators and custom homebuilders, as well as a number of journalists, on a tour of laneway and infill homes in Toronto. We were delighted by the level of interest in this event and happy to add an extra bus to accommodate everyone. We were not surprised to see that people are enthusiastic about the possibilities of laneway housing and eager to learn about the technicalities of building them. With laneway dwellings allowed to be built “as of right” in Toronto and East York as of only last summer – and with city council expected to make a decision in the near future on expanding this to Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke – we are all entering exciting new territory.

The adjunct advantage

A laneway home is typically a second, smaller dwelling built at the back of a lot, facing onto a public lane that shares utilities with the main house. Laneway housing has many advantages, both for homeowners and for neighbourhoods. For the homeowner, a laneway home can be a source of rental income or provide extra living space for extended family. For neighbourhoods, having homes facing onto laneways can improve safety and inject beauty and vibrancy. Laneway housing increases density in a non-intrusive way, enabling a more efficient use of infrastructure such as: transit, schools and community centres. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, laneway homes will contribute some much-needed rental housing in the city of Toronto.

Style meets function in The Junction

The Junction

That will certainly be the case with the first project on our tour – a laneway home that just broke ground in The Junction. The homeowners, who graciously answered questions from our tour participants, are planning to rent out the two-storey, three-bedroom house when it’s completed later this year. With more than 1,400 sq. ft. of living space, this home will do away with notions that laneway homes are cramped sheds in backyards. The best part? The homeowners report that the neighbours are excited, and some are even interested in building on their own lots.

The second laneway home on the tour also offered a feeling of spaciousness, both in the open-concept living area on the ground floor and in the courtyard behind the house. This two-storey, two-bedroom Leslieville home, currently rented out to a young family, was converted from an existing garage.

Sustainable supplement

Leslieville

Next on the tour was an infill project in Leslieville. Infill construction means building and renovating homes in established neighbourhoods. Infill homes, like laneway homes, add gentle density in our communities. The infill home we visited was created after an architect severed an unusually shaped lot into two separate properties. The home is filled with light and its high-performance building envelope helps conserve energy. A basement apartment provides extra rental income.

Laneway building incentives

The City of Toronto is offering two programs to encourage homeowners to develop laneway suites. The first allows for a deferral of development charges for 20 years, while the second provides a forgivable loan for property owners who agree to rent out their laneway suites at an affordable rate for 15 years.

Are you thinking of adding a laneway home on your property, or building or renovating an infill home? Laneway and infill building projects come with their own unique challenges when it comes to zoning requirements, design considerations and construction techniques. Your best bet is to work with a professional RenoMark renovator or custom homebuilder who can guide you through the process. To find one in your area, visit renomark.ca.

Making sure we have enough housing for the 9.7 million people who will call the GTA home by 2041 is a generational challenge. We need innovative solutions — laneway and infill homes among them — to meet it.

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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Toronto Fall Home Show

The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show

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The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show

As fall brings changes to the weather, it also inspires us to make improvements in our homes. Whether you’re looking to do a big kitchen renovation, a small bathroom revamp or convert your laneway into a livable space, the 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show will help make this a reality.

With more than three decades of experience helping homeowners, condo dwellers and renters restructure, reorganize and restyle their spaces, this year’s show is set to once again bring the best experts to the GTA.

The 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show is a source for consumers to connect with the right people and find the right solutions for their living space (even ones to help you get rid of ghosts).

Here’s a peek at what will be featured:

Tiny Village

With rising real estate prices, there’s a tiny movement happening in Toronto. Small space living is becoming more of a reality for most people, with an increase in small condos, container homes and even laneway/infill housing. There are 47,000 lots on laneways that exist today, which can provide homeowners ample opportunities to supplement their income. Still, small space living doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. The Tiny Village brings together the best of small space design, with units from True North Tiny Home and Eva Lanes.

Bad reno or paranormal activity?

For the first year ever, the Toronto Fall Home Show is bringing its very own paranormal activity expert, so you can figure out if the creaks in your floorboards are just your pipes… or if they’re ghosts! Chat with paranormal investigator Glenn Laycock for tips on what to do if you have an unwanted guest from beyond in your home, or take a Ghost Walk through the haunted Horse Palace.

Designer Pumpkin Patch

Ditch your plastic Halloween decor for chic and stylish pumpkins to give curb appeal a whole new meaning, with tips from the exquisite Designer Pumpkin Patch. Let designer Nicholas Rosaci inspire your own posh pumpkin design, make one yourself or purchase a pre-styled option, with all proceeds going to the SickKids Foundation.

Kitchen stage

The kitchen is the focal point of a home, and the 2019 Toronto Fall Home Show will be no different. Sit back and enjoy some of the city’s top chefs cooking up a storm on the kitchen stage and pick up tips from several expert speakers, including Ramsin Khachi, Marie Kondo Way expert Effy Nicopoulos, Rebecca Hay, Emmanuel Belliveau and Chef Christopher Woods.

Home Hardware Here’s How Centre

If you’re getting ready for a DIY project and want to learn a few skills or just don’t know where to start, stop by the Home Hardware Here’s How Centre. Here, you’ll get hands-on advice and practical tips from fan favourites such as Canada’s Handyman Shawn Monteith, Jordan Spear and, new at this year’s show, Mark Rason.

Project Jump Starter

Presented by RenoMark, this show feature will give you a one-on-one professional consultation, guiding you on where to start with your renovation and give you all the tools you need for success. Check out more than 100 award-winning, quality projects to get inspired for your next renovation.

The Toronto Fall Home Show runs from Oct. 4 to 6 at The Enercare Centre. For more information visit the website.


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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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h_jun19_industry_report_1_fi

Planning a renovation?

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Planning a renovation?

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 also updating features and designs to meet our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor and of practising what the Building Industry 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. And 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:

1. Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Understand your budget and have a list of must-haves and nice-tohaves. 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.

2. Choose your renovator 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), 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).

3. When interviewing your renovation contractor, make sure they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references of 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 is 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.

4. Make sure you have a robust 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 at renomark.ca for tips that outline some of the most common features you will want to make sure are included in a contract.

5. As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your 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, be sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

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. Why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a non-professional just to save a few dollars?

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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Design/Build Expert: Laneway housing

Stay in your lane, pal: Laneways, now are for more than just vehicles and vermin

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Stay in your lane, pal: Laneways, now are for more than just vehicles and vermin

Toronto has a housing problem; some call it a crisis. One of the levers Council is pulling at to increase more urban housing options (a pilot project) is to construct laneway houses in rear yards that abut public lanes.

Photo courtesy of R-Haux
Photo courtesy of R-Haux

Beyond the basement

There are 2,433 lanes in the city of Toronto and since June 2018, residents have been able to plan for and build these secondary suites, in a (somewhat) detached fashion from the main dwelling. Essentially, it shifts the previously permitted basement apartment to move up and behind the principal dwelling, so long as the services are provided from the main building, and the lot is not severed. It’s a practice that has been allowed in many other metropolitan centres for some time. Cities such as Vancouver, Los Angeles and even Ottawa have had similar bylaws and a plethora of interesting solutions already successfully resided in. Over the past year, however, the Building Department reports there have only been 78 permits applied for and six permissions issued. The goal of the bylaw was to allow for quicker and easier action by Torontonians, but given its connection to the city’s more complex makeup of other governing bylaws, 15 other applications are awaiting Committee of Adjustment hearings for minor relief to the rules. That alone can add more than six months to the approval process, so seeing this put into any significant practice will take some time.

Livable lanes

So, who benefits from this pilot project, you ask? Potentially, anyone and everyone. Adding laneway housing brings eyeballs to the lanes, which increases safety of persons living in or passing through them. The city benefits from an increased tax base and the (hopefully) good news story about gentle density, increased housing choices and improved stock – therefore improved affordability.

Photo courtesy of Lanescape
Photo courtesy of Lanescape

How to make it happen

There are many options available to any current homeowner who has property abutting a lane inside the pilot area. One company that was a part of the laneway bylaw development is Tony Cunha and his team at Lanescape.ca. They hold regular public information sessions for designers, builders and homeowners looking to learn more about the intricate process and rules governing these initiatives. They also provide design and construction services, which range in cost due to factors including finished vs. unfinished areas, site-specific servicing, plus consulting fees. Tony emphasizes that this is not the ‘Tiny House’ movement gripping social media. “These units,” he attests, “can be up to 1,700 sq.ft. in size, with a 10mx8m footprint.” Lanescape has done a great job at creating illustrations of how to fit a laneway house onto a lot, and the zoning restrictions that govern it. Setbacks from the lane, the main dwelling, as well as height and angular plane restrictions ensures this is a true secondary suite, and not just another house behind a house. While every lot is unique, if you understand the basic rules, there is an as-of-right condition to fit something onto virtually every lane abutting lot. Stickhandling the rules, with guidance from professionals, can shorten the approval process and build the laneway home faster.

Bylaw-friendly design

Another group focused on designing solutions that fit the bylaws, is Leith Moore and his team at R-Hauz. They are taking the approach of full bylaw conformity, and have designed a number of products that fit the as-of-right-bylaw, based upon the typical Toronto lot sizes aiming at range from 15 to 30 ft. with stops at 20 and 25 ft. Their goal is to reduce the time required to erect the dwelling through a level of pre-fabrication and repetition of product and process. With roots in larger tract-style development, they are focused on the speed and scalability of the build, for the benefit of the customer and their neighbours, who also share daily access in and out of the shared lanes. With a more contemporary square, yet curvilinear design and standardized options for systems and finishes, these houses have been designed with a “best square foot, rather than most square foot” mantra to maximize storage and comfort and flow for the occupants. With a design already hatched, zoning approvals as-of-right and a repeatable product with modularized components, these may be the most prevalent solutions we start to see around our lanes.

Photo courtesy of Lanescape
Photo courtesy of Lanescape

Urban revival

We at Eurodale Design + Build, coupled with a handful of architecture offices and custom builders throughout the city, have also dipped our toes in the collective waters, but on a per lot, per client, custom type solution. Many of these projects become lumped in with improvements to the original, aged dwelling that exists on the lot to begin with, as part of a more holistic gentrification of the site. Given the services for the new laneway must be tied to the original home, work will be required at the basement level for connecting electricity, water, sewer and gas anyway. Damages done will want to be repaired, and there is an economy of scale to do improvements to the principal dwelling when crews are on-site for the laneway project. These will create a whole host of unique designs and construction projects of varying style and quality levels, spearheading a tapestry of urban revival of sorts, while solving some housing challenges Torontonians are collectively feeling as we mature and grow.

Do you have any ideas as to how a laneway house could benefit your own life? Give one of the aforementioned professionals a call to see how this exciting initiative could become a benefit to you and your family. As always, I recommend you start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional builder to help undertake your project for you.

Who is laneway housing good for? Potentially anyone and everyone. Here is a quick list of who may find it a solution to their needs.

• ADULT KIDS – a great launching pad to help teach these birds to fly.

• AGING PARENTS – retaining independence of space, but safety and security of proximity to loved ones.

• FIRST-TIME OR MOVE-UP BUYERS – help qualify for and pay down the mortgage with a tenant in the main dwelling or the lane house.

• REAL ESTATE SIDE HUSTLERS AND SMALL DEVELOPERS – a way to maximize the value of a lot with some extra construction.

• CAREGIVERS OR PERSONAL SERVICE WORKERS – live-in-style care with a live-out feeling.

• RETIREES DOWNSIZING OR IN SEARCH OF RESIDUAL INCOME STREAM – convert an existing property into an income source without affecting the main house.

• DIVORCEES: better than the proverbial doghouse, this could allow families to stay close together, albeit not under the same roof.

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the GTA’s only four-time winner of the Renovator of the Year award.

@eurodalehomes

(416) 782-5690


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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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Should I renovate or rebuild?

Should you renovate or rebuild?

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Should you renovate or rebuild?

The beginning of spring offers a sense of renewal; I know it does for me. The warmer weather often has many of us thinking of spring cleaning, home improvement or a home renovation. If you are thinking of a renovation, you can choose to renovate your kitchen or bathroom, or be bold and add an addition to your home. Adding square footage not only enhances the enjoyment of your home, but can increase the value of your property.

When you embark on a large renovation project to add more space, you should ask yourself if you require an addition or a complete re-build. There are many things that need to be considered when making this decision, such as your budget, the state of your existing home and regulatory approval processes.

Reasons to do an addition to your existing home

  • If you are only looking to add a little more floor area, you may want to extend the rear of the house to help make your ground floor living area larger. A small and simple addition is a practical way of creating more space.
  • If you want to add a second storey to your bungalow, and the structure can handle the additional load, building a simple vertical addition can avoid costly work like a new foundation.
  • Heritage, conservation or site density regulatory restrictions may mean that it is impossible to tear down your home and build a new one, so therefore your only choice is to renovate the existing structure.

Reasons to demolish and build a new home

  • The structure isn’t strong enough to handle a second floor addition. A lot of older bungalows are built with very little structure on the ground floor. This would include exterior walls that don’t meet today’s building standards. In this case, you would have no choice but to undergo a costly and invasive structural upgrade, or build new.
  • The quality of your existing home may become too costly to repair. When a home has undergone a series of renovations, there may be a number of construction challenges to be dealt with before creating the new envelope. There is the possibility of illegal or non-conforming work that will need to be brought up to current building code requirements. Other considerations are a damp basement, the state of services (water, sanitary, and hydro) to the home, or general quality of existing finishes.
  • The layout of the house you want is dramatically different from the one you currently have. There is a tipping point where the amount of work to create new or different layouts overwhelms the savings of working with an existing one. Working with an existing structure generally means losing the opportunity for higher ceilings or a fresh start on floorplans. It can quickly become more favourable to build a new home.
  • A strong factor in the matrix of evaluators for decision making is location. Aside from the amount of work or time commitment, staying in the same place may feel right for you.

I encourage you to visit renomark.ca and educate yourself on the RenoMark Code of Conduct that gives homeowners peace of mind. RenoMark renovators must abide by the RenoMark Code of Conduct. It requires renovators to offer a minimum two-year warranty on all work, carry a minimum of $2 million in liability insurance and provide a detailed written contract.

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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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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INDUSTRY EXPERT: Stress Buster

Stress Buster: Avoid needless home improvement stress with these simple steps

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Stress Buster: Avoid needless home improvement stress with these simple steps

Regular communication between you and your renovator is essential and may avoid problems.

Canadians love their homes. So much so that homeowners spent nearly $73 billion in 2017 on renovations, according to the Altus Group. That’s $20 billion more than is spent annually on building new homes across the country.

Unfortunately, everyone has a horror story about a home renovation gone wrong, from losing their deposit, spending more than you anticipated, or a project that took too long to finish. The reality is that the average homeowner doesn’t know all they should know when undertaking a renovation project.

Photography: Bigstock.com
Photography: Bigstock.com

To avoid disappointment and to set you on a path toward a successful renovation, RenoMark has come up with five steps to a worry-free renovation.

  1. Define your project. The more you know what you want out of the renovation, the more accurately the renovators can help you achieve that goal.
  2. Set your budget and expectations on the same path, if they are not realistic or in alignment, then you will be disappointed before you even start.
  3. Select the right renovator, you should look to reputable organizations such as RenoMark as a source of professional companies. Plus, these companies must adhere to the RenoMark code of conduct and the Association’s code of ethics, this alone means that they are a professional and not a fly-by-night company.
  4. Sign a contract. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer and it will be the basis of understanding for the work moving forward. At a minimum, it should include costs, payment schedule, construction timeline, product-specific details, a communication protocol, warrantee clause, and a close-out plan. Avoid renovators who offer to do work without a contract in an attempt to avoid paying the HST. This type of renovator may also not be paying worker’s compensation or carry adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.
  5. Check on Progress. Regular communication between you and your renovator is essential and may avoid problems. During the course of a renovation, it is common for the homeowners to request changes or ask for additional work. These requests may affect the cost and time it takes to complete your project. It is important that you have a signed change order for all changes. Finally, remember to ask questions. The last thing anybody wants is to make an assumption or a guess that may lead to an error and then disappointment.

RenoMark.ca is a great resource to help you find the right renovator. RenoMark was established by the GTA-based Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) to identify professional contractors that have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct. The RenoMark program has been endorsed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

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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Home reno

Home construction and renovation the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy

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Home construction and renovation the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy

Home reno

Looking to custom-build a home or do your dream renovation – and save a few bucks by using unlicensed contractors? One, you’re not alone. And two, it could be a huge, costly mistake. Indeed, residential construction is by far the largest contributor to Canada’s underground economy, according to Statistics Canada. In 2016, this sector was responsible for 26.6 per cent – or $13.7 billion – of this activity, compared to 13.5 per cent for the retail trade, and 12.1 per cent for accommodation and food services.

The underground economy is defined as consisting of market-based economic activities, whether legal or illegal, that escape measurement because of their hidden, illegal or informal nature.

And the numbers are huge – totaling $51.6 billion in Canada for 2016, or 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product, and up 3.5 per cent from 2015.

The underground economy in Canada is even outperforming the total economy – increasing 3.5 per cent from 2015 to 2016, compared to the 2.0 per cent growth in total economy GDP.

Underground economy by province and territory

Ontario was responsible for the largest contribution in 2016 – $19.7 billion, compared to $11.9 million in Quebec, $7.6 billion in BC and $5.8 billion in Alberta.

 

As a percentage of GDP

PEI 3.1
Quebec 3.0
BC 2.9
Manitoba 2.6
Nova Scotia 2.6
Yukon 2.6
New Brunswick 2.5
Ontario 2.5
Saskatchewan 2.5
Nfld. 2.1
Alberta 1.9
NWT 1.1
Nunavut 0.8
CANADA 2.5

 

Why you should care

Why should you care about this issue?

On a more global scale, underground economic activity means taxes are not collected – topay for programs and services such as healthcare, education, parks, child benefits, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance.

More directly for you, however, is that an “under the table” home reno or custom-build puts you at risk. Not only do you have limited recourse if the project is not done to your liking, or is over time and budget, but you could also could be liable if a worker is injured on-site during a home renovation or if you unknowingly purchase damaged goods or shoddy service with no receipt.

Always get a contract or receipt

Cash deals with no paperwork may mean a business isn’t paying its taxes. You may be liable if something goes wrong.

RenoMark protection

In the Greater Toronto Area, the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) helps homeowners make informed decisions about renovation projects through a program called RenoMark. The program was established in 2001 and is now delivered in partnership with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) and local home builders’ associations across Canada.

RenoMark identifies professional contractors who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct. The Renovators Mark of Excellence makes it easy for homeowners to identify participating professional renovators who have agreed to provide a superior level of service.

Get it in writing

Make sure to get the details of any reno project in writing and signed by both you and your contractor. RenoMark Renovators provide a two-year warranty.

Do your research

Ask for at least three references and always check them

By dealing with reputable businesses that follow the rules, you’re also helping workers. Honest businesses follow health, safety and other employment standards.

The Canadian Home Builder’s Association also offers free and unbiased information on how to hire a contractor the smart and safe way, at getitinwriting.ca

RELATED READING

Getting Started with Home Renovation

Reno Expert: Good Help Wanted

What you need to consider before renovating your home

 

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