Reno Guide

Drawings – An Important Part Of Your Project

Drawings are a critical piece for many reasons.  For a major project, you will need to hire an architect and/or possibly an engineer and/or heating contractors to provide drawings to submit for approval to your local Muskoka municipality.  Those drawings will also be needed by your builder to help price the project. Some builders can take on the task and do your drawing in-house.  Ask your builder if he has qualified people available to accomplish this important task.

Consider The Impact Of Your Renovation – Both Internal And External

Internal Impacts:

The project may require you to move out of your home.  Consider the timing of the project and allow a buffer beyond that.  Especially if you are staying in the home during the renovations, expect that there will be an impact to your household and lifestyle.  Count on the fact that the renovation will be inconvenient and disruptive in some form or another!

External Impacts:

For projects that will take more than a week or two, discuss possible impacts with nearby neighbours (e.g., noise, disposal bins, increased traffic, etc.).  Informed neighbours will be more tolerant and supportive of your project.  You could require your builder to do a daily clean-up in affected areas such as the home, lawn, driveway.

Selecting & Working With a Builder

If your home or cottage is in Muskoka, you really need a local builder and better yet, a member of Muskoka Builders’ Association.  You can find some options on our website by going to Find A Professional. Ask each builder about their experience with similar projects and request the names and contact information for past clients to check references. Go to Selecting a Building or Renovation Contractor to learn how to choose a builder.

Specs & Budget

Your design architect or selected builder will be able to provide the “Specs” – preliminary sketches that indicate the quality and quantity of the materials and the standards to which the work will be done.  These Specs enable your builder to provide an estimate of the job and the time to complete the project.

Permits & Approvals

As early as possible in the process determine if it will be you or your builder who will be responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits and approvals.  You don’t want to find out just before you start your project that the permits haven’t been obtained or worse yet, a stop work order on your property!  Some projects require planning department applications, which will extend the timeline for your permits.  Research all this information early in the process.

Firming Up The Details & Entering Into A Contract

After deciding on the preliminary design, your budget and timing, the next step is to approve the final drawings.  These drawings will enable your selected builder to provide a detailed estimate and then you can move forward with reviewing and signing the contract.

Before you sign the contract, ensure it includes:

  • Exacting details on what the project entails (scope of work)
  • Precise price and a payment schedule (including holdbacks)
  • The start date and timeline for work completion (including various stages of a large project)
  • Any instructions for protecting parts of the house not under the scope of the contract and the frequency and location of clean-up

This is the time to hammer out any details or discrepancies as changes in mid-process are more costly and will cause delays.

Communication Must Flow Two Ways

During your renovation, communication both ways, between the builder and homeowner, is essential for a positive renovation experience and critical to the relationship between all parties as you move through the process.

The homeowner must speak about priorities as early in the process as possible.  Scheduled regular meetings with the builder will help facilitate discussion without distractions.  The builder should keep you up-to-date with the stages of the project, when to expect certain milestones and immediately inform you if there’s any delays.  Some examples of unforeseen delays might be if there are any issues with the materials (e.g., wrong material delivered or your chosen material is no longer available).  Be flexible with minor changes that don’t affect the end result or the timing.

Changes And Extras

It’s quite a common occurrence that in the midst of a renovation project, the homeowners requests changes or asks for additional work (called “extras”).  These requests will most likely affect the cost and timeline of the project, which your builder can calculate for you.  Having a signed change order for all extras and changes will help to clarify the expectations with regards to cost and timing.  Once signed, this change order becomes part of the contract.

Following these guidelines will help ensure a smooth renovation.  Enjoy the process!