Condo Renovation Rules Toronto: Legal Issues, Excessive Expenses

The 1980s were a big era for a condominium development in Toronto. In that time, there were almost 60,000 condominium units built, spanning from 1984 until the end of the decade.

Efforts have been made in recent years to stimulate interest in renovating these condos. For example, in 2009 the Federal Government offered a $1350 tax credit to homeowners interested in getting renovations done on residential condo units (HRTC).

While renovations can be highly rewarding and increase a condo’s value, keep in mind they come with their own risks and challenges.

ICC® offers advice as a professional property management company in Toronto on the best way to approach condo renovations, ensuring that they comply with the rules and do not interfere with your neighbours.

We also have several insights for Toronto condominium managers who are looking for better ways to manage their communities, and for residents and condo boards who are looking for more information about what to expect from a good property management company.

Our eBook is always available for download and is a valuable resource for anyone involved in a condo community.

Proposing a Renovation: Can you Renovate a Condo?

The first step in your condo renovation process should be to determine what kinds of renovations you want to undertake, and determining whether those renovations are compliant with your condo’s documents and rules and regulations.

Many condo boards have specific requirements for owners who want to renovate their units, including obtaining permission before proceeding.

Note that many residents in condominium buildings forego the essential step of obtaining permission before they start renovating their units. While some can get away with disregarding such rules, keep in mind that there are property management companies in Toronto that will enforce their community rules.

Failure to comply can mean incurring legal expenses or even having to re-do portions of your costly renovation process in order to rectify any violations.

Chances are, you will need at least a basic plan in place before you can obtain permission. Having a basic plan will help the condo board determine whether any of your renovations are unauthorized or fall under their jurisdiction.

Your renovations should focus on areas within your individual unit. Your property management company in Toronto is responsible for the common elements of your community, including corridors and most major systems, like electricity and plumbing.

This means that if you want to relocate your sink or shower, you may be bound by the restrictions in the community rules and regulations and such renovations may not be feasible or permissible.

Whatever your plans are, when you have a good idea of what you want to do, you should follow your condo board’s stated processes for obtaining permission to proceed.

Be sure to consult with your property manager and ask questions to ensure you are following the appropriate procedures to increase your chances of success.

Do It Yourself or Work With a Contractor?

While you may not think that this particular question concerns the rest of your condo community, it is actually an important consideration.

  • Many condo communities have restrictions on when work can be completed, such as prohibiting loud renovation activities to the hours of 9 and 5 on weekdays. If you were planning on a do-it-yourself weekend renovation job, this could put a damper on your plans.
  • Most property management companies in Toronto have some strict parking guidelines to enforce, including designated spots for contractors. These often fill up quickly or are specifically reserved for residents with permission to renovate, meaning you could be limited in the timeframes you have for your contractors to work.
  • You may also face regulations about how to go about the disposal process for certain larger trash items or appliances that you are replacing. Will your contractor haul away your old materials, or is he expecting to unload it in the dumpster? Are you allowed to get rid of those old cabinets you are replacing or do you have to get a special garbage service?

Depending on the complexity of the work involved, you may want to stick with a contractor who can do high-quality work that will comply with your community’s standards when inspected by your property management company in Toronto.

On the other hand, if the job is small enough and you can perform it without disturbing your neighbours, then a do-it-yourself approach could be for the best.

Regardless of how you proceed, remember to also check for whether you need to obtain any permits from the City of Toronto as well in order to avoid problems with code compliance.

Selecting a Good Contractor

renovate2If you are undergoing an extensive remodelling project, then you will likely hire a contractor, and you should be very careful when searching for one.

As a long-time property management company in Toronto, ICC® has acted as a resource for many of its clients in helping to find a good contractor who will work with your condo board to find a good plan of action for an authorized renovation.

  • Consider a contractor who provides you with a detailed plan; this shows experience in working with a condo corporation before and they will likely know many of the potential rules and regulations and how to comply with them.
  • The average renovation for a condo will run about the same as that of a single family home, even if fewer internal systems are touched and fewer permits are needed; this is due to the extra time needed to move around materials and dispose of waste.
  • Contractors who have worked on condos before likely know how to clean up after themselves to avoid problems within the common elements, and how to navigate the parking restrictions in your community effectively.
  • Contractors who have worked on condos before will know who to ask for guidance especially when dealing with plumbing issues as the superintendent or building personnel may have to shut off the main water systems before doing any plumbing work in the condo.  This means ensuring enough lead time to advise homeowners accordingly for any disruptions in services throughout the day.

Have you ever done a condo renovation for your unit? How was your experience? What challenges did you face? ICC® loves to hear about challenges and solutions you found for them with your condo renovation projects.

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