Top 5 Tips On How To Be A Good Neighbour During A Renovation

Renovating and renewing your home can contribute to the health, vitality and value of your neighbourhood. However, if the renovation is poorly planned and managed it may result in harmful effects to and ill will with your neighbours.

Whether you are a property owner or a construction professional, you can ensure that your construction project has a lasting, positive effect for yourself and your neighbourhood.

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As a property owner you are ultimately responsible for any construction project on your land.

As a construction professional, you can limit unwanted disturbances and build a positive profile for your business by being considerate to residents of the neighbourhood.

Working together, as good neighbours, you can run a successful and safe project.

Some examples of construction:

  • Build a deck, balcony or garage

  • Renovate an office, store or building

  • Make new openings for, or change the size of, doors and windows

  • Construct an addition to a house

  • Construct a new building

  • Demolish or remove all or part of a building

  1. Communication

It is important for you to keep neighbours informed of your building plans at all times. Before starting work on your building project, you should:

  • Tell your neighbours what is being planned by writing or visiting them personally.

  • Tell them how long construction will take.

  • Provide them with a way to contact you if they have concerns about the project or if there is an emergency.

  • Post your building permit in a prominent area on your property.

When neighbours are fully informed, they tend to be more understanding and supportive of your project.

2. Site Clean Up

You should collect and remove waste on a regular basis. Prompt clean up of garbage and construction waste keeps the site from becoming a health and safety hazard and an eyesore.

When using disposal bins, ensure that they are used for their intended purposes only. Food waste should not be thrown in as it will attract rodents.

Remove any mud tracked onto the city streets and sidewalks. If mud tracking is a serious problem, trucks should be hosed down before leaving the site. You should immediately flush and/or sweep down any road that has substantial mud build-up.

Failure to keep your site clean of construction debris may result in fines under City Bylaws.

3. Noise Control

Most Noise Bylaws permit operation of construction equipment ONLY during Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and no construction noise on Sundays and statutory holidays

Even during periods when construction is permitted, noise levels should be minimized as much as possible out of consideration for your neighbours. This is an important part of being a good neighbour.

4. Construction Protection & Safety Guidelines

Your construction site must be kept safe for both neighbours and workers and must also be properly fenced. Failure to provide a protected construction site may cause injury and may prove very costly to you in a number of ways.

City bylaws, such as the Property Standards and Property Maintenance bylaws regulate many aspects of your site. Noncompliance with these bylaws can result in fines and possibly closing down of your project.

Here is a basic construction site checklist to follow:

  • Do not harm existing neighbourhood services. Contact your local utilities to locate underground services before you start digging.

  • Protect your neighbours' property, trees and plants. Make sure construction operations and trucks are kept away from your neighbours' landscaping.

  • Put protective boarding or fences around trees and shrubs.

  • Enclose your construction site with protective fencing to restrict access

  • If your working near overhead power lines, you must call Local Hydro Authority for more information about having your lines de-energized, relocated/removed, or have the lines covered.

  • Place portable toilets well away from your neighbours' homes and out of sight.

  • Do not litter your neighbours' property with garbage bins and debris.

  • Respect your neighbours' parking needs. Do not park any construction vehicles on your front lawn or block neighbours' driveways.

  • Burning construction waste is not permitted.

  • Do not leave any potentially dangerous building materials, equipment or vehicles on the site unattended.

  • Insist that your workers wear and use proper safety equipment, such as approved hard hats and protective work boots.

5. Show Your Appreciation

At the end of the day, treat your neighbours as you would like to be treated if you were living next to a construction site. Use common sense and be courteous. Finally, consider presenting the neighbours with a “thank you” gift or invitation to dinner to celebrate the project’s completion.

How a Renovation Consultant Can Help

As with any major renovation project, sound planning is required. Several points should be considered before you start and you should take advantage of all the resources at your disposal.

Ready to get started? We will be happy to help you make the right choices for your home.

Our consultants have answered thousands of home reno and improvement questions. We are 100% impartial experts helping to guide homeowners through the often challenging home reno process.

Contact us today to see how we can help.



Aging in Place - Renovation Tips and Advice

"Aging in place" is the term that describes senior citizens' ability to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. Those who age in place will not have to move from their present residence in order to secure necessary support services in response to their changing needs.

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Baby Boomers - Need for Age-Friendly Homes

Research shows that baby boomers’ expectations of where they will live as they age differ from that of their parents’ generation. Nursing homes, to many, represent a loss of freedom and a reduced quality of life. Overwhelmingly, Boomers will seek any required care in their own homes and will be less likely to move into congregate living settings.


“A key step in planning for independence is assessing your home to determine if it can meet your changing needs as you age.”

Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum, Government of Canada

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/aging.html



Aging in Place Home Inspections

A qualified renovation consultant should be hired to inspect your home to determine if it can meet your changing needs as you age.

Renovation consultants may recommend corrections and adaptations to the home to improve maneuverability, accessibility, and safety for elderly occupants. Some alterations and recommendations include:

Exterior:

  • low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick, etc)

  • low-maintenance shrubs and plants

Entry:

  • sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock

  • non-slip flooring in foyer

  • accessible path of travel to the home

  • entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety

  • doorbell in accessible location

  • a surface on which to place packages while opening door

  • at least one no-step entry with a cover

Electrical, Lighting, Safety and Security:

  • install new smoke and CO detectors

  • install automated lighting, an emergency alert system, or a video-monitoring system

  • easy-to-see and read thermostats

  • light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms

  • light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)

  • light switches, thermostats and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor

  • move electrical cords out of the flow of traffic

  • replace standard light switches with rocker or touch-light switches

  • pre-programmed thermostats

Overall Floor Plan:

  • main living on a single story, including full bath

  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom

  • no steps between rooms on a single level

Flooring:

  • if carpeted, use low-density with firm pad

  • smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior

  • color and texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Hallways:

  • wide

  • well-lit

  • fasten down rugs and floor runners, and remove any that are not necessary

Stairways, Lifts and Elevators:

  • adequate handrails on both sides of stairway

  • residential elevator or lift

  • increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, and color contrast between treads and risers on stairs with use of lighting

Bathroom:

  • fold-down seat installed in the shower

  • adjustable shower-heads with 6-foot hose

  • light in shower stall

  • wall support, and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters and removable base cabinets

  • contrasting color edge border at countertops

  • at least one wheelchair-maneuverable bath on main level;

  • bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat and toilet for installation of grab bars

  • if stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and wide

  • low bathtub

  • toilet higher than standard toilet, or height-adjustable

  • design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand

  • wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes

  • slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower

Kitchen:

  • base cabinet with roll-out tray

  • pull-down shelving

  • wall support, and provision for adjustable and/or varied-height counters and removable base cabinets

  • upper wall cabinets lower than conventional height

  • accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace

  • counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances

  • glass-front cabinet doors

  • open under-counter seated work areas

  • placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas

  • open shelving for easy access to frequently used items

  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances, or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns

  • multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights

  • loop handles for easy grip and pull

Faucets:

  • thermostatic or anti-scald controls

  • lever handles or pedal-controlled

  • pressure-balanced faucets

  • pull-out spray faucet

Appliances:

  • microwave oven in wall or on counter

  • refrigerator and freezer side by side

  • side-swing or wall oven

  • controls that are easy to read

  • raised washing machine and dryer

  • front-loading washing machines

  • raised dishwasher with push-button controls

  • stoves having electric cooktops with level burners for safely transferring between the burners; front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot

  • replace old stoves with induction cooktops to help prevent burns

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning:

  • install energy-efficient units

  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible

  • windows that can be opened for cross-ventilation and fresh air

Reduced Maintenance and Convenience Features:

  • easy-to-clean surfaces

  • built-in recycling system

  • video phones

  • central vacuum

  • in multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom

  • built-in pet feeding system

  • intercom system

Storage:

  • lighting in closets

  • adjustable closet rods and shelves

  • easy-open doors that do not obstruct access

Windows:

  • plenty of windows for natural light

  • low-maintenance exterior and interior finishes

  • lowered windows, or taller windows with lower sill height

  • easy-to-operate hardware

Advice for Aging in Place

Talk with family members about your long-term living preferences. Do you want to downsize to a smaller single-family home, or do you plan to stay put in your traditional family home?

Take a look at your finances and retirement funds. With your current savings and assets, will you be able to pay for home maintenance? Consider starting a separate retirement savings account strictly for home maintenance.

Remodel your home before your mobility becomes limited. As you age, changes in mobility, hearing, vision and overall health and flexibility will affect how easily you function in your home. Consider making your home “age-friendly” as a phased-in and budgeted home improvement, rather than waiting until you need many modifications at a time due to a health crisis.

If you decide before you retire that you want to live in your current home through the remainder of life, consider paying for “big ticket – long life” home projects while you still have a healthy income. Such items may include:

  • having the roof assessed or replaced

  • replacing and upgrading the water heater or cooling unit

  • completing termite inspections and treatment

  • having a septic tank inspection and replacement, as needed

  • purchasing a riding lawn mower.

Most seniors leave their homes due to functional and mobility limitations that result from medical crises, and an inability to pay for support to stay with them in their home. Effectively managing health risks and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you stay strong, age well, and live long in your own home.

Ready to get started?

RenoLogic is here to help you remain in the home you love. Our consultants are certified home inspectors. We have been inspecting homes in the GTA since 1985. Call us at 416-483-3550 or fill out this form to book your Aging in Place home inspection today.

Two Main Types of Construction and Renovation Contracts - Pros and Cons

Understanding the different types of renovation or construction contracts before embarking on a renovation project is critical. Here are the most common types of contracts explained with the pros and cons from the owner’s perspective.

Fixed Price Contracts

The benefit to the owner when entering into a fixed price contract with a general contractor is cost certainty. However, the owner must have made most of the design decisions, in advance, in order to qualify for a fixed price contract.

The owners and their consultants identify suitable general contractors and administer to a competitive bidding process, once construction drawings and/or a building permit is issued. General contractors (GC’s) assume entire responsibility for the project and provide warranties for the future performance of the work. The GC manages the entire project with little day to day involvement of the owner.

Project Management Contracts

Most owners of residential construction projects are inexperienced and cannot contemplate all design decisions beforehand. A Construction Management contract relieves the pressure.

A Project Manager (PM) is operating at all times as an agent of the owner. The responsibilities of the project manager starts with a collaboration with the principal designer/architect to achieve the most cost effective design which fulfills the owner’s objectives and is within the owner’s budget.

Once the project begins, the PM’s principal duties are to secure bids from the various sub-trades, provide job management and scheduling, perform general administration and accounting functions as well as conduct quality control inspections for the purpose of approving the owner’s payments to the sub trades.

The Project Manager performs the dual role of the lead player for the owner but also has to balance the interests of the sub-contractors. The PM should be the owner’s trusted advisor, through what is a very complex and financially risky undertaking.

The principal benefit to the owner with this type of project delivery method is the gain of the collaborative team approach. This allows the owner to participate in design decisions during each phase of construction, when most people are in a better position to understand the complexities. However, the owner gives up most, if not all, cost certainty and assumes the risk of contracting directly with the sub-trades. Typically a Project Manager will charge 10% to 15% of the overall project cost.

The Best Type of Contract?

What is the best contract type? There is no easy answer. An owner should look at their reality first. If one has the disposable time and knowledge of construction, perhaps a Project Management contract is best. If the owner has no time, but knows exactly what the final product should be, a Fixed Price Contract will work best.

Other Types of Construction Contracts

  • Time & Materials

This works best for smaller jobs where the hourly rate for labour is clarified and is agreeable to both parties. Materials are purchased by the contractor and are marked up 10% to 15%, to the retail value of the actual goods. A Time & Material contract should not be considered for large projects, unless the trust level between both parties is very strong.

  • Fixed Price plus Allowances

This contract works best where the main aspects of the project are clearly specified, but the finishing details remain undecided. For example, an addition at the rear of house with the dimensions and room sizes is known, but kitchen and flooring type are not yet determined. The contractor can provide a fixed price on the “known quantities” and provide an “allowance” price for yet to be determined finishing details. This allows the owner to make interior design decisions as the project progresses, when they are better able to visualize the space.

Fixed Price Contracts

PROS

  • Cost certainty.

  • Warranties are provided by G.C.

  • Only one person/company for the owner to deal with.

  • All risk for scheduling, safety and quality control rest with contractor.

  • Owner can effectively deal with their own personal business, on a day to day basis.

CONS

  • Possible quality control shortcuts.

  • Requires owner to decide on details up-front.

  • Change of design mid-way through the project could result in costly extra charges.

  • Will be more expensive than a project management contract as contractors are more likely to have a large contingency built into their estimate for unforeseen risk.

  • Possible difficulty in obtaining “free” estimates – time consuming for contractors to provide estimates.


Project Management Contracts

PROS

  • Allows for collaboration of decision making

  • Allows the owner to make decisions in “real time” other than up-front where it is hard to visualize

  • Could be the least expensive, as no contingency is built in for risk.

CONS

  • No cost certainty of total project cost

  • No overall warranty

  • Very spotty service from trades upon project completion

  • Homeowner becomes contractor and is ultimately responsible for site safety

  • Homeowner must be registered by WSIB

  • Homeowner may not have time and availability to work with Project Manager.

  • Could be the most expensive if their Project Manager is not trustworthy.

Should I Move or Renovate?

To move or renovate? It’s a complex question that most will face at some point. When deciding between moving and renovating, you should begin by answering the following questions:

What are your motivations for wanting a change?

Figure out why you feel the need for a change – this can tell you a lot about your best course of action. For instance, if you’re simply not happy with your location or neighbourhood, a renovation cannot address this concern. Conversely, if you love your neighbourhood but desire more modern aesthetics and conveniences, a renovation can likely achieve this goal.

How much will a move really cost?

You should first establish what moving to a new home would cost. Partner with a trusted realtor to educate yourself on the likely sale price of your house vs. the likely value of your prospective new home. You’ll also need to factor in associated costs, such as real estate commissions, land transfer taxes, and moving costs. Generally, it costs 10% of the price of your existing home to move, even if it is across the street.

Does renovating make financial sense?

If you can attain your desired changes through a renovation, you should carefully outline your renovation plans to determine what the project would cost. The main concerns when undertaking any home renovation are the cost of construction and the length of time the project will take.

Does your house have the ‘right profile’ to suit your renovation needs?

You may have already determined that renovating is your preferred course of action, but you should also ensure that your house is worthy of the proposed renovation. If your home has a major structural or system failure, you’ll need to factor that into the planning. A Pre-Renovation Inspection and Consultation will determine what areas of the house need updating. This will allow you to budget for those additional repairs.

Are you ready to undertake a renovation?

Successful renovations require both careful planning and lots of patience. Your lifestyle will need to adjust during renovations, and in some cases, you will need to completely move out – the furniture, pets and you! Some families decide to avoid the confusion and chaos by moving to temporary housing for the length of the renovation.

Need some impartial advice?

A RenoLogic consultant can help you through this process by accurately assessing the current condition of your home. Whether you renovate or move, our inspection consultation and report will greatly assist either way.

Remember we are your impartial and confidential consultant. We want the best outcome for you. We will help you look at all angles so that you arrive at the best lifestyle choice.

Why Hire a Renovation Consultant?

The role of the renovation consultant is to provide advice and guidance to their clients, who are typically homeowners involved with a renovation or repair project. The renovation consultant supports the owner in many ways and empowers them with knowledge to achieve positive outcomes.

A renovation consultant, in effect, offers multiple mini-services from which an owner can select. Some may require just a few of the services offered to assist in the project while others may require guidance from the planning phase to completion.

The renovation consultant should be introduced to the contractor as an owner’s advocate, with a focus on improved communication and understanding between all parties. The contractor should be made fully aware of the owner’s wishes with regards to the role of the renovation consultant.

During Initial Planning Stage

Involving the renovation consultant (RC) at the beginning of the project will provide may benefits to the homeowner. Budgeting, goal setting and risk management are all tasks that the RC can assist with. The RC should also be involved with reviewing any project documents relating to the project to ensure the expectations of the homeowner are met by the proposed design and specifications.

During Bidding and Negotiations

The RC can act as the owner’s representative in the preparation and supervision of bidding documents. The RC can also manage changes to be made to the project documents, if necessary. They will also assist the owner by reviewing and comparing competitive bids that have been received.

Construction Progress Oversight

During project execution, the RC confirms that the contractor follows the terms of the contract, and that the work adheres to the agreed-upon specifications. Typically, the RC reviews the work through on-site inspections.

a) Progress Inspections

The RC should visit the work site during all major phases of the project, or as requested by the homeowner. Many jobs can only be reviewed before the start of other tasks and sequences, so the RC should evaluate these timelines accordingly.

b) Change Work Orders

The RC can assist or act as the homeowner’s advocate with regards to changes or additions made to the project. As they are familiar with the overall plans, the RC can determine if such changes are necessary, and can assist in explaining the rationale and cost to the homeowners.

c) Dispute Resolution

Should any dispute arise between the homeowner and contractor, the RC is an invaluable resource. Contracts may even include a specific clause stating that involving the RC be the first step in resolving conflict. The RC will devise solutions that are in the best interest of the project, with both the owner and contractor in mind. With their extensive knowledge and impartiality, giving the RC the authority to find acceptable solutions will benefit all parties involved.

d) Payment Approval

Most contracts will have progress payments built in, in accordance to the various construction phases. The RC should review each phase to ensure that the agreed upon work has been completed before the owner releases funds to the contractor.

Final Inspection

Upon project completion, the RC should review all work to ensure that the contract has been fulfilled. This will require not only a visual inspection, but inspections of structural, electrical and mechanical elements. Working with the owner’s legal counsel, the RC will assist in confirming there are no liens registered against the property. Only upon the final approval of the RC, should final funds be released to the contractor.

Services Performed by a Renovation Consultant

  • Act as owner’s advocate in all aspects of project.

  • Assume many aspects of client’s role in the event of absentee owner.

  • Review plans, contracts and other project documents.

  • Review proposals from contractors and sub-trades to ensure they comply with owner’s objectives and help evaluate competitive bids.

  • Recommend cost-effective changes and additions to project that will help achieve owner’s goals.

  • Inspect work at various stages of project, in accordance with owner’s directions before the release of funds.

  • Provide a final inspection before the release of final funds.

  • Liaise with owner’s legal counsel to ensure property is not subject to any liens.

Other Related Services Provided by a Renovation Consultant

  • Problem solving/repair solutions to single issue defects such as a leaking basement.

  • Quality control consultations such as helping to plan, execute and inspect a single item home improvement such as replacing roofing shingles.

  • Renovation coaching for small renovation projects or for the do-it-yourself.

Services Not Performed by a Renovation Consultant

  • Professional design advice such as architectural, engineering of interior design, (unless the RC is licensed to perform such service).

  • Production of architectural drawings for the purpose of obtaining a building.

  • Permit applications.

  • Arranging for inspections with authorities having jurisdiction and performing similar inspection services.

  • Becoming engaged in any aspect of the project whereby their impartiality is compromised.

Being Your Own Contractor

Before you decide to become your own contractor, carefully consider your situation so that you can make an informed choice. Working on your own home can be a fun and satisfying experience or can quickly become a huge mistake, costing you time, money and even impacting your personal relationships. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page.

Key to Being Your Own Contractor

Preparation - We cannot stress enough that planning is critical to success.

Do Your Homework – Learn everything you need to know before you begin.

Patience – Take time to do the job right.

BENEFITS

1. Saving Money

Typically, a contractor will expect to make a profit of between 10-25% of the total project price. By becoming your own contractor, you will eliminate this fee. However, you should be aware that if you make costly mistakes or complete inadequate work, this savings may no longer apply. It is also a known fact that projects take much longer to complete.

2. Project Control

As the contractor, you will ultimately be responsible for the project and will have the right to make changes as you go.

3. Personal Achievement

There is a great sense of accomplishment that accompanies a completed project, big or small. You will also be entirely familiar with all systems and components within your home.

CHALLENGES

1. Prior Experience Required

Being your own contractor means taking on major responsibilities that require a good solid background and knowledge of the intricacies of home construction and renovations. Due to the intricacies of individual homes, this can prove to be very complicated. (For more information read “What Do I Know About My House”)

2. Extensive Planning Takes Time

The longer you spend on planning, managing and ultimately being on the construction site, the more money you are likely to save. During the planning stage, this is when the amount of time you spend is most valuable. Very time-consuming activities will include spending hours on the phone speaking to suppliers, getting quotes, tracking down contractors, sub-contractors, obtaining building permits etc. Before you take on the task of being your own contractor, you need to be aware of contracts and insurance liabilities, so make sure to speak with your lawyer and insurance broker and have them explain the legalities and pit falls.

3. Personal Stress

Managing a myriad of details, and a variety of personalities, places a lot of stress on you as the contractor. You will be required to know what to expect from people you hire and most importantly, what they will expect of you. This also includes scheduling sub-contractors.

4. Financial Responsibility

You will also be responsible for the financing of the project and ensuring that suppliers and trades are paid in a timely manner. Be very aware of changes to the project as they will greatly impact the budget. (Typically a change will cost 3 times as much as the original budget.) Some minor changes are unavoidable and a good contractor will have a built-in contingency fund to deal with these issues.

5. Work Quality

Controlling the quality of the work requires knowledge of building standards and workmanship. That is why it is important to be on site at least once a day to ensure that the project is proceeding as it should. Part of your function as a general contractor is to make yourself available for decision making and to be visible on site and show that you are in control. There is less likelihood of sub-trades trying to cut corners or use inferior materials that are not specified. You will also have to coordinate mandatory building inspections.

6. Common Pitfalls Of Being Your Own Contractor

  • Amount of time it requires

  • Dealing with City Hall and the permit process

  • Having to deal with sub-contractors

  • Insurance and liability issues

  • The stress it will put on your relationship with family members

As you can see, being your own contractor is a very demanding undertaking but it does have its rewards as previously mentioned.

If you feel you are not up to the task of running the whole project, you do have options, as outlined below:

  • Hire a general contractor to build the shell. You could look after hiring the sub-trades to finish the interior.

  • Hire a site manager to take care of the day to day details of the construction side of things while you focus on all the other aspects like planning, finances, phone calling, etc.

  • Do the finishing work yourself. However, it will likely increase timelines and costs.

You need to carefully weigh all your options before proceeding.