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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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Reno Expert: Don't Move, Improve

Reno Expert: Don’t Move, Improve

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Reno Expert: Don’t Move, Improve

by Jim Caruk

If the real estate market has you feeling jittery about moving, why not focus your attention on the home you already own

After more than a decade of almost non-stop rising home prices in Toronto and the surrounding suburbs, things seem to have finally started to taper off. Still, with the average home price in Toronto peaking somewhere north of $1-million, with realtor fees, land transfer taxes (provincial and municipal if you buy within the city limits), lawyers’ fees, and the various other closing costs, you could quite easily spend $100,000 or more just to swap your old house for a new one, without doing any renovations. Why not put that money into your current house and create the home you’ve always dreamed of?


Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the most popular rooms people focus on when upgrading their homes. Whether it’s a fully functional chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances and plenty of countertop workspace, or a spa-like master bathroom complete with soaker tub and a bevy of spray jets in the shower, these projects can convert an ordinary home into the extraordinary.



You can’t go wrong building a communal living room around a fireplace.

Why not buy one that’s made in Canada by Napoleon?


CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Napoleon


I wouldn’t be doing my duty to all the men out there if I didn’t mention the coveted “man cave.” Whether the focus is on a bar, a pool table, or a big-screen TV on which to watch the game, many a man has appeased his mid-life crisis by ordering up a place of his own where he can hang with his buddies. But if such an upgrade seems to be a tad lopsided, another more inclusive option is to create or remodel the family room into a home entertainment hub.


Some people would rather focus on the great outdoors. Obviously, now isn’t a good time to start building a new deck or installing a pool, but it is a great time to line up a contractor and make some decisions on design and materials so work can get started as soon as the snow is gone.


Of course, these luxury upgrades come at a cost. But even with home prices on a bit of a slide right now, if you’ve been in your house for more than a couple years, it’s almost certainly increased in value. You can access that “virtual” cash by taking out a home equity line of credit.


So save yourself the stress and cost of looking elsewhere for a dream home. That perfect space is possible right where you currently reside, with the added bonus of not purging your possessions and packing your life up into boxes.

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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