Canada's Condominium Magazine
It is no secret that renovations can be costly and time-consuming. Renovating a condominium opens a whole other can of worms, and many are not prepared to deal with the structural needs, let alone building and renovation requirements. Condominiums are heavily regulated on all fronts, and upgrading them can be headache-inducing and tiring. If you are planning to renovate your condo unit, read on to make sure you are well-informed of the requirements so that you do not face any unforeseen issues.
Notify Everyone Affected
Neighbors should be notified of any upcoming renovations. However, that is not so much a requirement as common courtesy. You are, however, required to notify the corporation of your plans. While building permits are generally not needed, notifying your condo’s corporation or owner will give them the heads-up while also giving them the opportunity to fill you in on anything that you need to know prior to beginning.
This will greatly reduce the odds of unwelcome surprises along the way. Additionally, the owner/corporation can assist you in obtaining any necessary licenses or permits, send out notices, access the freight elevator as needed, etc. You may also want to go a step further and notify management not only of the intended renovation but also what all it entails. If your plans include tearing out a wall that is vital to the condo’s structure or making significant changes to the unit’s plumbing and fixtures, they can let you know of any issues with those plans and avoid any unnecessary damage.
Additionally, you may have to get permission from the board, which will require you to submit a proposal. The property manager can fill you in on the requirements and the procedure for getting approved.
Delivery and Removal of Materials
Renovations often require delivery of heavy equipment and other materials, as well as the subsequent removal of equipment, materials, and packaging. Disposing of so much waste in the condominium’s dumpster would not be feasible, and some materials cannot be disposed of in this way. Planning accordingly ahead of time will save a lot of hassle later while avoiding unnecessary damage and delays.
Plan for the process of moving large items back and forth, getting them in and out of your condo (doors are only so big), where waste will go, what to do with appliances and equipment that work properly but are no longer wanted or needed, and storage of materials and equipment when not in use during the renovations.
Deposits and Insurance
Your condo may require you to pay a deposit prior to beginning renovations and moving materials and equipment in and out of the building. Insurance may also be required, and it is beneficial in case of unintentional damage. Regardless of the time and effort put into planning your renovation, or any project for that matter, you can never account for everything. Sometimes accidents happen, and you will want to be prepared.
Whether these are required or not, they are beneficial, especially insurance. If something does go wrong, then your loss will be significantly lower than it would sans insurance, and part of that out-of-pocket cost will be covered by the deposit paid upfront. If the renovation is a success, however, and no damage is done, you will get your deposit back.
Your condo may have requirements restricting activity and noise levels beyond certain hours and on specific days. Finding these out ahead of time will allow for proper planning and help to avoid any conflicts due to excessive noise levels while people are trying to sleep. It will also help you to better quote a time frame for the renovation. A project that can be worked on at all hours of the day will be finished much sooner than one that is only permitted within a 10-hour timeframe, five days a week.
Parking and Elevators
The planning stage of renovations should include reserving parking space and elevators. Reserving parking spaces will ensure that contractors and other workers have adequate parking close to the unit, allowing for quicker access and less effort than they would have if they have to cross a large parking space or carry equipment up multiple levels in a parking garage. This can be costly as well as time-consuming. Taking care of this ahead of time will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Reserving an elevator also saves time by reducing the wait time for elevators, while also preventing conflicts and injuries and reducing clean-up time.
Some changes may be more difficult or even impossible if they include areas that are considered to be owned by the condo rather than the tenant. In many instances, this includes supporting walls, hallways, and front porches. In some instances, this also includes the balcony, as appearances matter in real estate. Condos do not want unnecessary changes that may inhibit their ability to sell the property in the future or attract buyers to surrounding units. Be sure to discuss this with the property manager ahead of time so that common areas and elements are avoided.
Be Flexible and Thorough
While these are not necessarily board requirements, they are important. Accidents happen and sometimes things are not available when we need them. Having too tight a schedule can cause setbacks and conflicts, especially if a renovation is not completed within the quoted time frame. Allow a little bit of a buffer to account for any delays and issues that may occur.
It is also wise to be flexible when it comes to your neighbors. If a tenant in a neighboring unit has an issue with the timeframe or the renovation in general, work with them to resolve the issue ahead of time. This may be as simple as delaying it a bit while a sick or injured relative recovers so that they have adequate use of elevators and are not kept up at all hours while they are on bed rest.
Being flexible in the type and extent of renovations done is equally important. Sometimes things do not go according to plan, and any changes that are not allowed should allow for a workaround or allow the project to move forward without it. Be completely thorough in your renovations as well as following the rules and regulations set by your property manager and condo board. This will avoid problems, setbacks, and additional work and costs that may be incurred by needing to redo or undo a renovation altogether.