With housing prices in the GTA continuing to hit record highs, more and more homeowners are opting to renovate their existing homes instead of looking for something new.
Renovating is exciting, and it is a big undertaking that requires careful consideration and planning. The first step to a successful renovation is to do your homework and carefully outline your project and determine what your goals are for the renovation.
Your long-term plans will play an important role in what renovations you decide to take on. Is this your forever house? Or might you be planning to move in a few years?
What improvements are important to you and will allow you to enjoy your home more? Are you looking to add space or replace or upgrade your kitchen? Perhaps you’re considering more practical renovations such as expanding a bathroom or increasing the energy efficiency of your home.
Once you determine your goals and priorities, you need to establish your budget. The scope of your renovations will be influenced by how much money you have available. Knowing your budget before moving forward will help you make the right decisions about your project. The next step is to hire a professional renovator as they have the knowledge and experience that can help guide you through the budget and renovation process. A great resource is RenoMark.ca, an online database of professional renovators, trade contractor or custom builders. Talk to several renovators and choose one that you are comfortable working with.
Professional renovators have legitimate business licenses, are insured and offer warranties on their work. They regularly attend educational seminars and have a strong knowledge of municipal bylaws and the Ontario Building Code, two very detailed sets of standards that rule projects large and small.
When you work with a professional renovator, you can renovate with confidence knowing that you’re working with someone who understands the rules and regulations that go along with home construction.
Many renovation projects require municipal building permits. A professional renovator will assist you with the permit process. They will also co-ordinate architectural and engineering services if required.
Before you start construction, your renovator should provide you with a written contract outlining all the details of the project. The contract needs to clearly describe the scope of work, project timelines, payment schedules, warranties and how to handle any changes. If you don’t sign a contract, chances are that you’re not working with a professional and will have no legal recourse should you receive substandard work.
Your renovator is your partner in realizing your vision for your project so keep the lines of communication open and check in on progress regularly to ensure everything is going as discussed.
RenoMark.ca is a great resource to help you find the right renovator. BILD created the RenoMark program in 2001 so that consumers could easily identify professional renovators who are committed to high standards and follow a Code of Conduct. The program was well received and soon expanded to other markets. Today, RenoMark is used to distinguish professional renovators in nine provinces and more than 40 municipalities across Canada. RenoMark renovators abide by a renovation-specific Code of Conduct, which includes things like providing a written contract; offering a minimum $2 million in liability insurance; providing two years warranty on all work; and having all applicable licenses and certificates.
Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta) and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).