Planning your next renovation project

Articles & Interest

Undertaking a home renovation project is an exciting prospect. It can also feel a little overwhelming at times working with various tradespeople, navigating municipal bylaws, sourcing materials, and more. But, as they say, forewarned is forearmed. So, here we’ll walk you through the key stages of a renovation project.

Plan ahead

Long before you start calling contractors for quotes, you should have a solid idea about the scope of your project. What are some of the problems with your home that you’d like to resolve with the reno? Think about year-round impacts. Are there any hot or cold spots, lack of storage for coats and boots, and so on. Then look around for inspiration – tear pages from home dcor magazines, pin favourite pics on social media, peruse the gallery of finalists from the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) National Awards for Housing Excellence. Use these images and ideas to help create your list of must-have and nice-to-have changes.

You should also think about the future. If this is your “forever” home, investigate what steps you can take now to make your home more aging-in-place friendly. CHBA continues to evolve its aging in place training, which has the goal of ensuring that Canadian renovators understand the various stakeholders involved in managing the needs of homeowners aging in place, while providing viable and cost-effective accessibility options to their clients.


Comparison shopping

For smaller projects – say a kitchen or bathroom makeover – your detailed wish list should be enough to start seeking quotes. But if your project is an extensive renovation, like adding a storey or an addition, most contractors will want to see architectural drawings before they can give you accurate quotes.

Larger projects often also require a current property survey for your permit application, so you’ll want to get quotes for that now as well.

Whatever the scale, you should get multiple quotes from RenoMark contractors. Working with a RenoMark contractor gives you the peace of mind that the company is properly insured, licensed, and will warranty their work. Still, do your due diligence before you sign a contract, including asking for and checking references (use this CHBA Customer Reference Worksheet).

For any renovation project, it’s essential to have a formal written contract. CHBA’s “A Homeowner Guide to Renovation Contracts” details what should be included in the contract, including information on the contractor’s licenses and insurance, warranty information, and payment schedule.

Once work gets underway, some deviations from the original contract may come up. To address these, your contractor will draft up formalized “change orders” so that once again, everything is in writing.

As soon as your contract is signed, the various fixtures and finishes should get selected and ordered so they’re onsite when needed. A delay in a tile order, for example, can hold up an entire kitchen or bathroom installation. Your contract should outline who is responsible for putting in the order.


Permits and other paperwork

There are multiple layers of potential permits a project might require: building, electrical, plumbing, and gas. RenoMark contractors working in your municipality will know which projects do and do not require permits. Smart homeowners know to walk away from a contractor who insists he or she can “do it off permit,” which means they acknowledge a permit is legally required but will do the work without the homeowner obtaining one.

Other projects might require exemptions to municipal zoning bylaws, known as “minor variances”. For those, you’ll have to apply to the local building department for a hearing to get the variance(s) you need. This process can take weeks or even months to complete so the sooner you get that process started the sooner your contractor can break ground.


Keep the end goal in mind

Overall, planning a renovation can be a fun yet complex task. Make sure you’ve thought out what you truly need and want so that you can get accurate quotes. Take your time finding a renovator, and make sure you ask for references and always have a written contract. Having a professional that you trust to bring your project to the finish line will make all the difference!


For more detailed information on renovating your home, see this collection of CHBA articles on planning a renovation.