What You Need to Know Before Starting a Renovation in Toronto

Home renovation

A home renovation in Toronto comes with a long list of tasks, decisions and interactions. From the design stage through to hiring a contractor, purchasing materials, accepting delivery and scheduling installation, homeowners have to keep close tabs on many things. Find out what you need to know before starting the renovation project and your Toronto home improvement will run smoothly.

Initial Design Stage

Some Toronto homeowners opt to design their home renovation, or get started on the design phase without the help of a professional. Many home improvement projects can be handled this way, including:

  • decks
  • landscaping
  • bedrooms
  • bathrooms
  • living spaces or family rooms
  • window and door replacements

Other spaces require a more detailed design that takes into account support, architectural details and mechanical elements such as plumbing and electrical. These renovation projects should be designed by a licensed professional, using the tools of the trade. Consider hiring a pro designer if you're planning any of these projects:

  • kitchen renovation
  • home addition
  • garage addition
  • swimming pool

Building Permit Consideration

The City of Toronto and the province of Ontario dictate local building codes. Many types of renovation work will require the issuance of a building permit, and this process will very likely have an effect on the overall design.

Check out this handy page on building permits in Toronto to find out when a building permit is required and when it is not. Permits are the responsibility of the homeowner, although the contractor is required to follow all applicable building codes. Application, payment and administrative tasks regarding the permit are handled by the homeowner.

In many cases, the permit must be displayed for the duration of the project. You can also expect several inspections during the course of work. Be prepared to grant the inspector access when required and ensure that your contractor stays in touch with the building department.

A variance may be issued when local bylaws apply. This process allows Toronto homeowners to notify the neighborhood of the intention to build and provides those neighbors with the chance to object. Privacy fences, swimming pools and other major exterior features are often subject to a variance, when bylaw limitations clash with the homeowner's design.

Financing Considerations

Many local financial institutions and loan companies offer home improvement loans to Toronto residents. Because this type of project adds value to your home, reasonable terms are available for renovations of almost any size.

Find out whether a home equity loan is possible, or speak to your mortgage company about adding to your mortgage to cover the costs of a renovation in Toronto. With mortgage rates so low, this type of financing allows many Toronto residents to create the home of their dreams within an affordable budget.

Hiring the Right Contractor

Browse TrustedPros or look through local telephone listings. You'll find a vast selection of contractors ready and willing to start your renovation in Toronto. But only a select few of those businesses will be right for your project, suiting the budget and offering the expertise and skills required. The trick is narrowing down a long list of potential contractors to find the ideal candidate.

First of all, always hire a contractor licensed to work in the region. The City of Toronto issues contractor licenses to approved companies in the following lines of work:

  • roofers
  • carpenters
  • bricklayers and masonry contractors
  • concrete workers
  • waterproofing and drain contractors
  • mechanical contractors, including heating
  • insulation installation contractors
  • electricians

These licenses provide homeowners with peace of mind and some assurance of quality and commitment. Homeowners can call the City of Toronto at 416-392-6700 to verify a contractor's license.

Beware of subcontractors. Some local businesses will win the work from residential and commercial bids, but "sub out" the actual work to smaller companies. While this practice is not illegal or even detrimental in every case, it can be dangerous for the homeowner. Research the general contractor, as well as each of the sub-trades. Make sure they all carry valid City of Toronto licenses and obtain warranty information on each of the project portions.

Gather a list of contractor names from friends and family, and narrow down that referral list to three or four companies. Check with the local Better Business Bureau before setting up estimates or quotations and weed out any companies with poor BBB ratings.

Compare the quotes based on your priorities, but be sure to pay attention to the degree of care taken, details covered and pricing. Quality work enhances the value of your Toronto renovation and helps to improve property value and lifestyle.

Ironing Out the Contract

Once you have decided on the company to hire, take the time to draw up a formal contract. This paperwork protects you in case of faulty work, damage or negligence. If the contractor will not agree to a detailed contract signed by both parties, hire another firm. Your investment is worth protecting.

Read through the contract to ensure all details are included, such as:

  • an outline of the work to be done, including sketches, blue prints and computerized drawings
  • full price of the project, including the payment schedule and a clause to cover extras
  • the full, legal name of the company, including business address, HST registration number (if applicable), phone number of City of Toronto contractor license number
  • your full name and jobsite address
  • anticipated start and finish date (be aware that this must be flexible, given weather and other factors)

Planning helps to make a home improvement project flow smoothly. For a virtually stress-free experience, follow these tips before starting a renovation in Toronto. Find the right approach to your initial design, research the applicable building permit requirements and discover all available financing options. When it comes to hiring, trust only a licensed Toronto contractor and make sure the contract includes a detailed description of your project. Take good care of your home through this experience and you'll reap the benefits throughout your future.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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