In a market that currently seems to accept no limits, giving that condo a facelift so that you can enjoy it more, or for the purpose of selling or renting for a higher price might actually be a legitimate expense. Though you don’t require a building permit to engage in condo renovations, there are some considerations that will ensure the project has the best chance of making you and your neighbors happy.

1. Include the Condo Corporation

Get in touch with the property manager from the outset and find out what the condo board will require. Keeping everything above the table so they know your plans is the best way to avoid a snag in the operation. You may require a permit to work on electrical.

2. Insurance and Deposits

The condo board will likely dictate whether you are required to take on an insurance policy for the renovations, or whether you can simply give them a damage deposit. Both have their benefits. Insurance will require a premium which  you won’t get back regardless of the outcome, but then you are covered for damages way beyond what you would ever want to leave as a deposit. A deposit will most likely be more than an insurance premium, but if all goes well, you get it all back.

3. Noise and Work Hour Restrictions

Most condos will only allow construction to take place at specific times of the day, and possibly even limit the days of the week that work can be done. Finding this out early will allow you to determine how long the project will take and how much it will cost. And it will help you which contractor to hire as some may not be as flexible as others.
Be sure your plans adhere to the City of Toronto’s noise bylaw restrictions.

Construction can only take place from 7am to 7pm on weekdays, 9am to 7pm on Saturdays, and is prohibited on Sundays and Statutory Holidays. Your condo will have even tighter hours for you to abide by. Don’t think that this is negotiable, as the peace of your fellow condo inhabitants is possibly in the balance, and not something you want to intrude upon without proper notice and preparation.

4. Reserve Parking and Elevators

Plan ahead. It will save you mountains of time, and you can’t get work done if equipment is stranded in the parking garage below. Book the elevators you will need and arrange for parking for your workers. They’ll appreciate it and so will you.

5. Inbound Materials and Waste

Condos have specific rules about how materials can be brought into the building and how the left over waste materials are to be disposed of. Again, plan ahead. Getting on your neighbors bad side with a messy work-site is bound to create headaches and they will  have every right to complain. The disposal of some materials is also governed by the city to ensure that it is properly dealt with and so that toxic products don’t end up in landfill sites. This is an important conversation to have with your contractor. Some of them follow the rules, some don’t, and you share residential space. More information can be found here.

6. Renovation Limits

Parts of your condo might not be allowed for renovation. This is a big part of your proposal to the board. They will be able to tell you what you can and can’t alter in your living-space so as to not damage the building or the condos around you.

7. Common Elements and Common Areas

Some of the elements in your condo are not actually owned by you, and are not permitted to be altered. These will be outlined by the condo board undoubtedly. They need to be adhered to unequivocally or the board can demand that you return the whole space back to it’s original condition.

8. Electrical and Plumbing

Because electricity and plumbing in a building a generally a shared service, as in your plumbing and your neighbors plumbing feed to/from the same pipes, there is not much room to move here. Any alteration will have to be cleared by the board, and any presentation will have to likely be drawn up by a professional.

9. Breathe Deeply and be open to changing the plan.

With all the red tape leading to the finish line, your plan is bound to have a few modifications. Try your best to keep an open mind, and remember that most of the time, everyone will be trying to give you what you are looking for within the guidelines they must work.

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