Condo Renovations: The Checklist

With over 58,000 high-rise units built in Toronto between 1984-1994 (according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.) many condo owners are at a point where they are considering renovating their suites and more buyers are considering purchasing a unit with the intention of renovating.

Renovating a condo is different than renovating a house, there are factors that can easily put your project on hold or sidetrack you from getting the job done quickly and efficiently.  Below are some simple tips to get your condo renovation started on the right foot.

1. Get approval from the Condo Management office.  Older buildings are more likely to be accustomed to the process as they will have had more experience dealing with requests, younger buildings are more likely to be a little more stringent.  In either case it is advisable to make sure that you are able to provide as many pictures and plans for your renovations.

2. If you’re buying a suite to renovate make sure you find out before your purchase if there are any rules or regulations that would keep you from making the changes you want to.  Making your offer conditional on the status certificate will give you time to go over a copy of the declaration and rules for the building as it is included in the package.

3. Find out what you own and what is jointly owned (also referred to as common elements)!  Again this will be in the declaration and rules.   If you remove or alter something that doesn’t belong to you there is a good chance that the building will require that you replace it.

4. When making plans be aware that there are certain physical things within your unit that will restrict what you can do.  The ceiling may be cement which makes pot lighting a no go; the pipes may be located in the wall (which most likely classes them as common elements) so relocating your toilet or washing machine may be more difficult if not altogether impossible; the floor may be cement which restricts the type of flooring you can put down.

5. Find out what the condominium rules are in regards to how work is to be carried out.  For example; how long you can have a garbage bin on premises, hours that tradespeople can work, parking for tradespeople, elevator access and acceptable delivery times.

6. Take your time and select a qualified contractor.  This is key in any type of renovation.  With condominium renovations you  may actually find that some contractors won’t consider doing the job.  It’s advisable to find one that has experience in this area and that is accustomed to dealing with condominium corporations/management companies.

7.  Send your neighbours a hand written note!  Renovations can certainly interrupt your neighbours peace so be aware of this and send them a note ahead of time thanking them in advance for being understanding and apologizing for the inconvenience.

8. Make sure you order all of the products and supplies that you need to complete your project.  Don’t wait until a week before the cabinets are to be installed to order them as they take time to get in and you also need to make sure that you can arrange in advance for access to the elevator and loading areas.


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