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!


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 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.


(416) 782-5690


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