Planning a renovation? Timing is everything By: greening homes

February 7, 2018
Planning a Renovation

This blog is part of Greening Homes’ Planning a Renovation series.

Early in the year we often field inquiries about spring home renovations. How soon can we start?

That’s all going to depend on the project’s scope. If you plan to expand the building envelope, it could take a lot longer to get your approvals. The reason? Zoning. The first step is to consult with us to determine if your plans fall outside the current zoning by-laws. If they do, you will need to apply for what’s referred to as a Minor Variance through the City of Toronto’s Committee of Adjustments (COA). Any hearing applied for today – early 2018 – is currently being scheduled for the end of the summer.

This news may come as a shock to some people. Before you start thinking about paint colours, tile selections or kitchen cabinets, make sure you have a zoning review completed to see if you comply or if you will require a COA hearing.

Before applying for your Zoning Certificate (ZC) or a Preliminary Planning Review (PPR), you will need existing and proposed plans. Greening Homes offers this service as part of our Design & Estimate Agreement process. It helps our clients align scope and their financial input as we factor this into the design right from the get-go. Too often clients come to us with plans, paid for at some expense, that do not fit their budget.

How long does this design process take? It can range in duration depending on our workload, clear feedback from you on the design iterations, and several other external factors. Greening Homes will apply for the ZC on your behalf. The ZC review process takes approximately two to four weeks. At the end of this review, you with either receive your ZC, or you will receive a notice of minor variances required, which serves as the basis of your COA hearing.

So, bank on two months for the plans and ZC but keep in mind that your own schedule will come into play here in order to keep this on track. If there is no Minor Variance then you will be able to move forward through the plan development phase and apply for your building permit.  If there are Minor Variances, then you have a tough decision to make. Should you wait or rethink the project’s scope?

Often, we look to ‘”right-size’” the home and see if a re-organization of the current space will meet the goals for the occupants.  When doing this we are often able to steer clear of any zoning challenges that might have been present with building envelope changes such as additions.

Whether your project is large or small, the process begins by reviewing your list of priorities and goals for the renovation, as well as your lifestyle, which helps inform the budget. This may lead to reprioritizing to ensure that the money available matches the project’s scope.

When do we actually start the renovation? As with most building companies, we are often booked several months in advance. But that doesn’t mean nothing can happen until then.  You can be active in your renovation as early as possible in selecting items needed for the renovation such as windows, doors, cabinetry, etc. It is important to work early on the longest lead time items such as millwork.

Planning and preparing for a renovation can feel like a temporary part-time job, given the time it takes. We encourage you to be prepared for the time and work needed to renovate your home. To assist you, we will provide you with a plan with design selection deadlines well before the renovation’s start date.

You may also want to consider where you will be during the renovation. If it’s a major project or one that will inconvenience you, you may want to plan your vacation around it, live with a relative or friend, or rent temporary accommodations. Living in the renovation can be very challenging for both client and contractor.  Stay tuned for our next blog regarding “Living in your renovation: The money saving trap.”

Whatever your renovation’s scope, timing is everything. Always give yourself plenty of lead time to plan well and manage expectations.

You may also be interested in reading:

You’re ready to renovate! Now what?

Building trust – working collaboratively with your home renovator

Ontario’s building code changes will improve your home performance and comfort