Toronto is a dynamic, vibrant city with houses and condos of all shapes and sizes. Your home is your most important asset (particularly in the GTA housing market), so any time you are planning a renovation it is important to make sure the job gets done right!
Budgeting, who you hire, when to renovate, what to renovate - even the smallest renovation can spiral out of control without proper planning.
This guide walks you through all the considerations to take before your Toronto renovation, so you are confident the work gets done effectively.
Consult this guide for information on:
Budgeting for your renovation
What to look for in a Toronto contractor
Toronto building permits
Toronto seasons: when to renovate?
Temperature and energy-saving considerations
Renovating Toronto’s older homes
Interior renovation projects
Exterior renovation projects
Considerations For Planning Your Toronto Renovation
Ensuring your renovation plans are efficient will make your money go farther. You may have seen simple estimate guides online, but these can be misleading as every renovation is completely unique to your needs and your existing space. To make sure you are getting the best contractor for your project, you are always encouraged to collect a few quotes before choosing.
When you request a quote, make sure you ask for a description of all the finish items so you can make an informed decision as to what they are including. More importantly, through this process, you should form a bond of trust with a contractor who has proven themselves to be reputable.
Factors to be considered in putting together your renovation budget include:
The current condition of your home
Which room(s) you are renovating
Tasks involved (Breaking down walls, plumbing, electricity, etc.)
The costs of new fixtures
The size of the renovation area
Your wishlist of changes (what you can and can’t live without!)
When working with a designer/contractor, they should be able to suggest a range of alternatives to wishlist items in order to work within your budget.
Read our related post: 8 Steps to Creating a Home Renovation Budget
Toronto Contractors: What to Look Out For
Your home is one of your most important assets so you will want to hire someone who truly has your best interests at heart. We all want to save money, but the cheapest is not necessarily the best! Choosing an unlicensed or inexperienced contractor may ultimately cost you more in the long run.
Not to mention scams. You need only look at this case of Toronto contractor fraud to recognize the importance of due diligence.
Some red flags when assessing contractors include:
Seemingly has a completely open schedule
Does not have a Building Renovator License
Does not belong to the only real renovation trade organization, RenoMark
Does not have General Liability Insurance
Does not have Demolition and Underpinning Insurance
Does not have WSIB coverage
Wants to start work without a Toronto Building Permit
Asking for money before a contract is written
Asking you to pay a deposit of more than 15%
No references or bad references
Learn more about why these items are important in our related post: 10 Ways to Avoid Hiring The Wrong Renovation Company.
Toronto Building Permits and Blueprints
Many Toronto home renovations require you to apply for a building permit before work can start. Inspections by the city at different stages of the renovation will be required whenever there is a permit. Zoning laws must be taken into consideration - these usually concern heights, widths of the house and floor area of the renovation.
In cases where a permit is required, you will have to have blueprints drawn professionally for submission by a registered designer with a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN), a qualified architect (OAA) or a qualified engineer (PEO).
Other permits you may require include a plumbing permit, HVAC permit, electrical permit, landscaping permit, and more. You can learn more about Toronto Building Permits on our blog.
Getting all this paperwork done need not be complicated. By hiring a Design-Build renovation company, their licensed designers and licensed contractors will draw up your plans and apply for necessary permits. The Design-Build process also involves designers in the actual renovation work end-to-end, ensuring the work is done completely to plan.
Toronto Seasons: When to Renovate?
The weather in Toronto can influence the best time to start a renovation. Although an excavation and foundation can be done at any time of the year it is best to avoid the winter as it adds costs such as temporary insulation and sometimes heating to prevent freezing of the earth or concrete. Renovators book up quickly for the warmer months, so booking as far ahead as possible is recommended.
Interior remodeling, on the other hand, can be done at any time of the year.
If you decide to do a winter renovation and won’t be living in the home, your contractor will make sure that your pipes don’t freeze.
Temperature and Energy Saving Considerations
Ensuring your home is energy efficient not only saves you money on energy bills, but also helps protect our environment. The City of Toronto website lists a variety of financial incentives for energy saving projects you can apply for.
Energy saving projects for the home include:
Replacing or maintaining your furnace/boiler/water heater/air conditioner
Repairing sealing on doors/windows/skylights
Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances
Air sealing/draft proofing
Replacing roof with a green/cool roof
Heat pump installation
Wall/attic insulation replacement
Changing all lightbulbs to energy-efficient models
Installation of a smart thermostat
Renovate/Remodel Century Homes in Toronto
Heritage homes in Toronto are beautiful and a grand investment. However, if they haven’t been updated in any major way in the past fifty years, those tasks will fall to you.
Some potential project you may have to undertake include:
Replacing galvanized piping and connection to the sewer
Repairing the foundation
Updating the home’s electricity system
Repairing the roofing
Sealing against heat loss
Read our guide on restoring Toronto’s older homes.
Toronto Interior Renovation Projects
Homes in dense cities like Toronto are often built to minimize the space they take up. Unfortunately, many interior designers don’t make effective use of the space, resulting in less-than-functional rooms.
Many Toronto homeowners have even taken to converting their garage into a living space when they can park elsewhere. If you do decide to embark on this project, you need to work with a qualified professional to ensure the new space is built up to code and is energy efficient.
Renovating your kitchen is one of the timeliest and potentially expensive interior renovations. The value and functionality it adds to your home, however, cannot be denied. Along with choosing luxury materials such as solid surfaces and granite to create elegant countertops, you should also choose materials for cabinetry and other fixtures that are easy to maintain.
Ensuring you upgrade your appliances to the latest standard in energy efficiency will ensure your energy bills aren’t higher than they already get during Toronto winters.
Any size of bathroom can be remodeled to appear larger and provide an inviting space to wash up in. Adding a large mirror or building recessed shelving are two ways to make a small bathroom seem larger.
When planning your bathroom renovation, your design needs to be both functional and aesthetic: the right choice of lighting and flooring will evoke a mood, but also keep you safe from accidents. For Toronto winters, you can consider luxuriating with the addition of heated floors or towel racks. All windows and exhaust fans need to be properly sealed to make sure you’re not chilly when hopping out of the shower.
We love our basements in Toronto but hate the inevitable flooding that occurs in neighbourhoods all across the city. The City of Toronto has even devoted an entire section of its website to basement flooding resources. If your basement floods regularly, you should bring in an expert to assess the foundation and outdoor area for potential leak issues.
If you were thinking of renovating or finishing your basement then waterproofing your basement will be part of the process.
Does your basement not have enough ceiling height to be a liveable space? The good news is that you can lower the floor of your basement to increase the height so you don’t bang your head.
Toronto Condo Renovations
Renovations for the many condo owners in the city of Toronto are at your fingertips as well! Your first step is to check in with your condo board to see what their renovation rules are - for example, they may require contractors to have certain qualifications, restrict the use of certain materials, require certain soundproofing standards. They will also need to approve your plan before you can move forward.
A condo renovation can breathe new life into your unit and maximize even the smallest of spaces. Even if you cannot make major structural changes, replacing the island, surfaces, cabinetry, and lighting all go a long way to making your condo more your own.
Be sure to read our guide to Toronto condo renovation requirements before getting started.
Other Interior Remodeling Guides
We have other guides you can check out for other rooms and features of your home. Be sure to read:
Backyard, Decks, and Landscaping
We Torontonians really know how to appreciate our brief warm season with backyard parties and BBQs. It is important to make sure your backyard is guest-worthy!
Ensuring your deck stays in good shape after a Canadian winter is a Spring ritual. Softwood decks are susceptible to rot or insect infestation over time. Pressure treated lumber, composite lumber, and hardwoods are more resistant to these factors, but regardless, your deck needs to be regularly assessed and maintained.
Many of these risks are a result of poor construction, allowing moisture to be trapped in hidden structural sections of the deck. If you are planning to build a new deck, make sure you hire professionals with a strong track record!
Even Toronto’s slimmest yards can be made more functional with a deck. Check out this terraced backyard project we completed for a Toronto homeowner:
Or maybe you want to build a stone patio? Walkways? New lighting or sound systems? Check out our blog for some Toronto landscaping and backyard ideas.
If the building code fire standards permit it, you may want to change the siding material of your house. If your siding is old and damaged it may also need to be replaced.
Different types of siding have different levels of upkeep vs. cost considerations to make, and different materials can also help you save energy.
Learn more in our home siding guide.
Building a home addition is a complicated project, but one that increases the livability and value of your house. If you have the space on your property you can expand the size of existing rooms or create new rooms altogether. You can even add another level to your house!
With a large project like this that changes the size of your home, you will be subject to Toronto zoning bylaws. You will also have to apply for a Toronto small residential addition permit. Renovation companies will assess your zoning bylaws, walk you through the entire planning process, and provide a timeline for how long the project will take.
Bryant Renovations: Providing Efficient Design-Build GTA Renovations Since 1986
We love the Greater Toronto Area. Whether you live in the city or outside it, Bryant Renovations has been helping homeowners remodel their homes for over 30 years. Our design-build team tackles every aspect of your renovation, from concept to execution, and has a track record of very happy customers.
To request a quote on your dream project and learn more about how we will make it a reality, contact us today.