Welcome to the new renovation reality By: greening homes

September 1, 2022
Planning a Renovation

Supply chain issues, inflation, labour shortages, potential recession… welcome to the new renovation reality! Starting a home renovation these days may feel like embarking on a perilous journey to the unknown. However, there are ways to help make that journey go a little more smoothly.

First and foremost, find yourself a trusted renovator. I’ve written about this before in this column and I cannot stress it enough here. I have seen substandard work firsthand, and heard horror stories of contractors abandoning projects. My advice when choosing a renovator is to ensure that they are properly licensed and insured, covered under warranty and are members of a builders’ association (such as BILD’s Renomark) that is committed to quality work and ethical operations.

A large-scale renovation which might normally take seven to nine months to complete can now take a year or more. Why is it taking so long? Because scheduling has become elusive. Suppliers can’t provide delivery dates. Your induction stove, heat pump or special vanity is delayed indefinitely. A rain day could mean a missed opportunity to pour concrete, postponing the framers by several weeks because they had to reschedule around it. Drywallers are on strike as I write this. One delay leads to more delays. Everything compounds. Plan for things to take longer.

If your renovation includes an addition or any change to the exterior, you will likely need to go through the City’s Committee of Adjustment. This alone can take six months, over and above the typical design period. I have people come to me in the fall with a major project that involves this process and expect their renovation to begin in the spring. That’s simply not enough time.

Patience is your best friend, as is upfront and detailed planning with your builder. I’ve had clients plan important events around their expected renovation end date, or end their interim rental leases too soon, all without discussion. The only thing you can really plan for nowadays are delays.

Homeowners often come to me with the most basic of plans expecting accurate estimates. In an attempt to save money, they hire a CAD firm to create a bare bones plan that can be approved for permit.

We have a saying in renovation: detail in is detail out.

Detailed planning for significant renovation projects will save you money – and time – in the long run. This entails a plan developed by a designer or architect with input from a builder and other professionals as part of the planning process. I am frequently presented with project plans that fail to include HVAC or structural drawings, DSS Reports, finish and window schedules, or reflected ceiling plans to confirm the electrical scope of a project. Without these details, project estimates can vary wildly: assumptions are made about cost and quality and this inevitably leads to cost overruns, seemingly endless change orders, and disputes during construction.

Start with a detailed map – and a team that includes a trusted renovation professional – and your renovation journey will be a lot easier despite unsettled weather ahead.

Chris Phillips, Greening Homes’ founder and President, is an expert contributor of Neighbours of High Park Magazine. This article appeared in the September 2022 issue.