Tag Archives: renovating

What you should know before digging in

What you should know before digging in

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What you should know before digging in

I have many prospective clients reaching out to me at this time of year, with lofty renovation goals and big dreams that their efforts will pay off. A home renovation can indeed offer a great return on investment – unless it’s not done correctly from the get-go.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is that this isn’t the time to start skimping. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it. Maybe put it off until your budget meets your needs. Cutting corners to save a few bucks will end up costing you more in the long run, because you’ll likely end up having to pay again to repair or redo the work.

Renovations can be daunting territory for many, and there is no doubt that this process can be overwhelming. Selecting materials, sourcing products (and making the right decisions!) and executing the project is a dance best left to a professional. A designer will perfectly choreograph your renovation project without missing a beat, and you can bet that there will be many beats in this process. When the renovation is complete, most of my clients agree that the result is worth the effort and temporary inconvenience of it all.

Now, before you get too excited about what will undoubtedly become Instagram-worthy interiors, let me give you another important renovation tip: Be realistic. Be realistic about the project (is your plan even possible?), the process (how long will it take, and what will it all entail?) and the price. Here are some things to keep in mind before you dig in.

1. There will be dust

Prepare yourself for the general feeling that you and everything you own will be a little dirty. All. The. Time. This also lasts months after the renovation wraps, as the dust quite literally settles. Cover your vents with plastic and turn off the furnace and air-conditioning systems in advance, to avoid circulating dust throughout your home.

2. There will be disagreements and compromises

Inevitably, you and your housemate/renovation partner will have different priorities. I ask my clients to prepare separate lists, each noting their own needs and personal preferences. Then we can put them side-by-side and find the commonalities. Compromise on the small stuff is easier when we feel like we agree on something big – usually, a functional and fabulous space.

3. There will be (costly) issues

Especially in residential construction projects, you need to plan ahead and budget for any number of wonderments that may be found lurking behind the walls. Set aside 20 per cent of your budget as a buffer zone. I typically keep this amount “in the bank,” and when the project is nearing completion and I can see that we’re in the clear, I can reallocate the remaining amount for splurges appearing on my clients’ wish list.

One or two less-than-ideal byproducts accompany most renovations, whether they come in the form of construction dust or budget-busting “surprises.” However, by enlisting the right professional and planning well in advance, you can minimize the negative impacts of a renovation and maximize the positive.

Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc..

With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her full service firm serves clientele throughout the GTA.


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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 bildgta.ca.


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The Party Project

If you want a major renovation to be completed in time for a holiday party, think again

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If you want a major renovation to be completed in time for a holiday party, think again

The global calendars are set around the end of the year. Across all religions, the holidays or holy days are virtually the same every year (within reason) and yet each year – sometime between the end of summer (read Labour Day) and December 1st, we seem to lose a few critical months in our minds. The day Halloween is over in Canada, the shops and malls start playing holiday music, parties begin to fill our calendars through to New Year’s Eve, before we even digest our Thanksgiving meals. Just like that, another year has passed!

Stress-stopper

When thinking about a big party to footnote a large addition, renovation or custom home project, our first piece of advice is to stop, and not do it if it is at all tied to a rigid date like a religious holiday, birthday, graduation or worse… wedding day! Sure, some of us work better under the pressure of a deadline, and having a firm date can truly help spur things to happen quicker (or when they should in the first place), but keep in mind that residential projects are fluid beasts that can twist and turn as a result of a series of relatively uncontrollable factors.

The perfect project — right up until the thick Fibre optic cable was uncovered where the addition was designed to sit, adding over a month to the project.
Photography by Valerie Wilcox (After photo), Nikolas Koenig (Before and During photos.)

Permit backlog

Projects start with design, but most projects require review and approvals from some municipal regulatory body. In busy cities across this province, those time frames have been lengthening and have become increasingly unpredictable. In Toronto proper for instance, it is not uncommon for a large addition and renovation project to require anywhere from a few months up to two years to obtain approvals required to start construction, depending on the rules which govern the property and the proposed project.

Nature delays

Forecasting and scheduling handcrafted builds is also unlike the highly measurable work undertaken in a controlled factory setting. Although prefabrication is increasing in many tract-built sites, it has yet to make inroads successfully into smaller, single infill or remodel sites. What may look perfect on paper, rarely translates perfectly to the field. For example, hidden surprises like soil conditions, asbestos, or archaeological finds can only show up once things start on-site. Likewise, weather can impact delivery of materials, as well as production rates of workers until a structure is closed in and at least watertight. In Ontario, as in much of Canada, we undergo blistering heat in the summer and bone-chilling cold in the winter – both have impacts on the pace and safety of workers on-site, which in turn affect productivity estimates. From one year to the next, temperatures and precipitation rates can vary tremendously and are unpredictable at best.

Not to mention, most firms that take on single family projects are small businesses, hence with small teams. Anything from illness and injuries to vehicle breakdowns, life’s curveballs impacts the number of people who show up to work on a site any given day.

The project schedule was railroaded upon discovery of what lied beneath. The house was situated atop cinder and ashes from a former adjacent rail line.
Photography by Will Fournier

Rebates & supply-demand chain

Suppliers of materials are very susceptible to market forces when it comes to being able to supply goods that are desired or required. A busy marketplace can become infinitely busier and almost unmanageable when government initiatives are rolled out, such as rebate programs (remember GreenON and the impact on window manufacturers?), as well as economies, which purchase supplies from us such as our friends south of the border (remember the Gulf War and the impact on plywood?). Tariffs and trade wars, as well as market prices of commodities can all affect availability of items you plan to put into your home.

Lastly, as the consumer, we must also appreciate that our own lives can get in the way. Domestic challenges can quickly require much more attention, as well dependents and work commitments can delay our scheduled plans to select finishes or review project details that the contractor may require from us.

Realistic timelines

The construction project road is nicely paved with good intentions. It’s important that we are all realistic about the time it takes to build what we are planning. It’s also very helpful to look into the project rear-view mirror. Ask your architect, designer and builder what similar projects took to undertake, and ask for client references to confirm those time frames. Each project is also unique in its own right and deserves a custom schedule. A generous site with a new-build custom home can be undertaken in less than six months, whereas a tight urban addition and renovation project that includes underpinning could easily take upwards of a full year to build. We recommend creating two schedules – with a two-month gap between them. Have your project partners work towards the tighter target, and you plan for the one with the two-month padding and hope that you are able to meet somewhere in the middle. If either of your targets arrive within a couple of weeks of the holidays, resist the urge to mail out party invitations, unless it’s a painting or moving party, as the odds are…something will have impeded the project completion. Why add that stress to anyone’s plate as part of a dramatic construction project?

Thinking of undertaking an addition, renovation or custom home project? Start your search at RenoMark.ca to find a professional design-builder to help undertake the full project from initial plan, through design, approvals and final construction. You’ll be glad you did.

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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At Home With Men At Work: Humber Valley Village family home

A Humber Valley Village family home is a labour of love enjoyed well beyond the holidays

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A Humber Valley Village family home is a labour of love enjoyed well beyond the holidays

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

To move or to renovate…this tends to be one of the tougher questions Toronto homeowners are forced to ask themselves when their current house fails to meet their current, much less their future needs. Our clients in Humber Valley Village were faced with this very dilemma, when the love for their charming, corner lot home was overshadowed by its dysfunctional layout and size. The decision was one that certainly took much deliberation, but ultimately, the homeowners loved their house, property and the neighbourhood all too much to leave it. With the decision made, it was now our job to deliver a home that retained the charm and character of the original house, while creating functional living space fit for today’s modern family.

The wish list

The ultimate goal for this project was to expand and update the family’s living space, and to create a flow within the house that allowed them to utilize their backyard. There were a number of delicate design iterations that were thought up before settling on the final plans. The final scope included adding an addition, and remodelling both the main and second floors to be more functional. Some of the changes included relocating and rebuilding the garage, adding a rear, two-storey addition to accommodate relocating the kitchen and second floor master bedroom, and adding a fourth bedroom and laundry room on the second floor.

The design

In terms of interior design, the homeowners wanted a clean, contemporary look that felt warm and inviting. It was designed for a family of four to easily live and grow into, while the open-concept main floor and extra guest bedroom allowed the homeowners to comfortably host parties and overnight guests. Large sliding doors were added along the west wall of the newly relocated kitchen, to allow for a more seamless transition from the house to the backyard. In the kitchen, custom millwork was introduced to add in extra storage and an office nook, and cool neutrals were used in the colour palette to further open up and brighten the space.

One of the key design features in this house is the two-sided fireplace that separates the living room and dining room. In addition to being a design feature, the fireplace acts as structural support to the main floor living space. After opening up the main floor and adding the rear addition, the house needed interior support to bear the open-concept design. The large, two-sided fireplace was a good solution to the structural issue, plus it acts as an interesting design feature that adds just the right elegance to the space.

This particular project stands out for our team, because it’s further proof that using an integrated design-build method is the most efficient and effective way to execute a renovation. We faced a number of challenges throughout this project that forced us to be creative and collaborate amongst each other, and in the end, the homeowners were left with a beautiful and functional house, in a neighbourhood that they love to call home.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm,and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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6 hot design ideas for your next home renovation

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6 hot design ideas for your next home renovation

Renovating and regenerating a space, any space, can be incredibly fun and exciting. It can also involve a great deal of challenges, as well as the pressure that comes with managing a project and changing a space that others will use.

If you take some extra time to plan, and use a few simple ideas, getting the right look in a home doesn’t have to be too challenging or expensive. Here is a quick guide to some of the best home design ideas we’ve found to make things a little easier.

Expose materials and structure to add depth and texture to space

You can achieve a fantastic look and give your space an interesting atmosphere and feel by taking things away, rather than adding them.

Exposing a beam or the brickwork along one wall or in an alcove is a great way to add character, depth and texture to a space that may be bland and boxy otherwise.

Integrate fitness and wellbeing into your home’s design

Health, fitness and wellbeing are becoming very popular pastimes that often benefit from having their own space. Fitness equipment in particular often needs a place to “live” in the home.

By using equipment that can be folded away to store, you can have a small home gym that can double as a yoga studio or relaxation centre when the exercise machines have been stowed away.

Use timber cladding and concrete for a modern yet earthy look and feel

A great look for the exterior of a home can be achieved with timber cladding and smooth concrete footings.

Exterior changes can be a lot of work for the home renovator, so you should always consult a professional design service like The Home Design Group, who can help you plan and execute work safely and in accordance with local planning and safety regulations.

Build a large and practical pantry for your kitchen

Kitchen cupboard space is always difficult to arrange, and will often take up a lot of space in a kitchen that could be put to better use.

More and more families are turning to dedicated pantry spaces, giving them plenty of space to store and arrange food, and will often put the fridge there too; making extra space in the kitchen.

Bring the inside out and the outside in

A popular way to add colour to your home is to bring outdoor materials inside, or to make usable living spaces outside.

Some people have used high quality plastic grass, or “astro-turf,” on interior spaces like dining rooms and children’s play areas. To take the inside out, why not have an area outside for cooking and dining when the weather lets you?

Use pivot doors to make a special entrance

Frameless doors that pivot to open, rather than swing on a hinge, make an impressive first impression on anyone entering a home that has one.

Doors that open this way can be very large and heavy, but will pivot effortlessly on their vertical axel to create a huge and welcoming entryway.

Hopefully this quick guide has given you some design ideas for your next home renovation, and you can make a space that is unique, stylish and welcoming for all.

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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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Rebecca Hay’s three tips for navigating a stressful renovation

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Rebecca Hay’s three tips for navigating a stressful renovation

Renovating doesn’t have to be a stressful and difficult task. Interior designer Rebecca Hay from Rebecca Hay Designs Inc. offers three tips to navigating and handling the stress of a renovation.

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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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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

by Craig Essery
Photography: Bigstock.com

Steps you can take to speed up your home reno project

Remodelling is always a big undertaking. Whether you’re redoing a single room or embarking on a full-home addition project, understanding the renovation process ahead of you and doing your part to prepare for any foreseeable obstacles is sure to save you time and headaches—many headaches.

PLAN SMART

Arguably, the most important stage in the reno process is the planning phase. As a homeowner ready to commit to renovating, it’s crucial that you have a clear vision of what you want to get out of your renovation, and that you do your research before hiring a contractor. Start with making a list of what it is that bothers you about your current home; take your time with this and really consider what you want to achieve from the renovation. Do you need more space? Do you want an open-concept layout? Do you need to plan for a growing family? Decide what features are, and are not, negotiable. Next, do your research before hiring anyone. You want to understand the process that’s ahead of you, and handpick the best company for the job based on what’s required for your home. Remember that experience brings efficiency, so it’s important to find a contractor who has plenty of experience working in your neighbourhood with your type of house. For projects requiring substantial design and project coordination, consider hiring a Design-Build company to service the job from start to finish. Design-Build companies tend to have all the trades and services you will need either vetted or in-house, making the process more efficient.

BE TRANSPARENT WITH FINANCES

Although it may seem like a given to have your finances fully in order before signing with your contractor, it’s more common than you’d expect for projects to come to a complete halt, after construction has already begun, due to a lack of finances. Being transparent and clear with your contractor and design partners, in terms of what your main objectives are, and what you’re willing to invest in order to achieve them, is extremely important. Transparency will give your contractor the information they need to ensure that your expectations are realistic for your budget.

MAKE TEMPORARY LIVING ARRANGEMENTS

Relocating your living quarters, be it to an entirely new location or just a different part of your house, is inevitable during a renovation. Talk with your contractor to determine the best plan of action and work together to make the best of that decision. If you decide to fully move out during construction, push the contractor to shorten the timeline slightly; if you decide to relocate to a different part of the house, determine where the best area is that won’t cause delays and jeopardize the project schedule.

AVOID MID-PROJECT CHANGES

Contractors provide homeowners with a project schedule prior to beginning any work on the home. After the design phase has been completed, your contractor will generally provide you with an updated schedule for the upcoming construction phase; however, any changes that are made after exiting the design phase will result in increased costs and an extension in the project timeline. Avoid mid-project changes and don’t exit the conceptual design phase until you’re 100 per cent sure you’re happy with the plans.

BE REALISTIC

Aside from cost, the main hesitation people have for remodelling their home is time. They envision themselves being victim to uncomfortable living conditions for months, or years, on end; and, while living conditions during a major reno varies from project to project, homeowners are right to be concerned about the lengthy period of time they’ll be subjected to these conditions. It almost always takes longer than expected to complete a renovation, so that’s why thorough planning and having realistic expectations will help mitigate the delays and frustrations that are bound to happen along the way. Depending on the size of the renovation, a typical home in Toronto will take a full year to complete from conceptual design to move in; and if it requires attention from the Committee of Adjustments, add another three to six months.

Specializing in home additions and major home renovations in old-Toronto neighbourhoods, Men At Work Design Build provides integrated engineering, design and professional construction services to help solve home space problems for Toronto families.

Craig Essery is a Renovation Consultant at the award-winning, two-time winner of the BILD Renovator of the Year award, 2012 & 2017, design-build firm.


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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

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INDUSTRY EXPERT: The Waiting Game

by David Wilkes

Looking to renovate? Getting permits and approval may take longer than the work itself

Your family is growing and you need more space. You have two options. You can sell your house and move into a bigger home, or you can renovate your home and add more living space. You love your neighbourhood and do not want to move, so you decide to renovate.

Your first inclination may be to focus on the latest trends and finishes, but before you do that, your time is much better invested in getting the necessary approvals and permits. In some cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), that can take months for a smaller renovation and up to a year for more ambitious projects.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

REALITY BITES

Many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that it is as simple as filing your plans and obtaining your permit—a week or two and on to swinging hammers. The reality can be quite different. When planning a major renovation or custom-home build, the approval and permitting times can stretch for months, and may include multiple steps of getting approvals for variances to existing zoning requirements, setback regulations and obtaining approvals from other municipal departments like Urban Forestry. If re-zoning through the Committee of Adjustment is required, the entire process can take well up to a year.

Layered onto this, many municipalities are failing to meet The Ontario Building Code’s timeframes of just issuing a building permit in 10 business days, delaying renovation projects and adding unnecessary costs to projects. In 2017, in the City of Toronto, nearly half of all residential building permits were not issued within the required legislated timeframe.

RENO RED TAPE

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) reviewed 6,011 City of Toronto permits and the average timeframe for issuing these permits was 31.4 calendar days. That is two to two-and-a-half times the provincially mandated maximum. It is important to note that this review included thousands of applications from very basic and quick permits, to permits with values of over $100,000; the issuing of these permits took an average of 45 days or six weeks.

Further delays in the process come from a lack of access to inspectors and inspection delays that can tangle homeowners up in even more red tape. Your dream renovation has now become a bureaucratic nightmare. The permit and approval system needs a good renovation itself.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

BILD wants to put the customer first so they can enjoy their newly renovated or custom-built home sooner rather than later. Based on our members’ experience, we wrote the Service Standard of Excellence document to provide practical guidance to municipalities on how to speed up approvals and make the process more efficient.

We are asking cities to commit to a reasonable turnaround time for renovation permit applications, we are proposing the implementation of a one-window permitting, web-based portal that makes the application process smoother and transparent, and we are calling for improved service by building inspectors similar to the standards expected for Internet and telephone providers.

As we get closer to the 2018 Municipal Elections this fall, we will be meeting with councillors and mayors across the GTA to ask them to adopt the measures outlined in the Service Standards of Excellence and get them to provide building and renovation approvals and permits in line with the provincially mandated requirements.

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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