Canada's Condominium Magazine

Tips for keeping you, your community, and neighbours happy during your renovation project

Renovations are one way to improve your lifestyle and the value of your condo investment. It’s a certainty you will have to renovate at some point. Sometimes it’s just a little “touch up” before selling, but other times you might be considering a major kitchen renovation.

 

You can’t over plan your condo. With condominiums you also have to take into account community rules, common elements and your neighbours.

 

However, it is vital that you respect the community and your neighbours. Imagine how you would feel if you felt the vibration of machinery, the sound of hammers and drills. Here are some tips for making your renovation project easier on you and your neighbours.

 

Remember, some renovations are noisy (it’s unavoidable) so consider the timing and limit your contractor to times the community allows — and your neighbours prefer.

 

Is it worth the hassle?

Undoubtedly. It will certainly be worth it in the end when you are relaxing in your newly upgraded condo that was designed just the way you want it. Or, if you are selling, it can make the difference between profit and amazing profit. Don’t forget, however, how you felt when the people on the floor above you renovated their bathroom. Make sure your contractors — who can tend to stretch the rules — follow the golden rule of respecting your neighbours.

 

Planning not only makes sure you follow the rules, it helps you improve property values, lower your budgets and manage the timeline.

 

Planning makes the difference

The most important part of any project is the planning stage. A good first step is to do some research.

  • What is allowed and not allowed in your community?
  • What the original layout for your condo have any renovations have been done on it in the past.
  • Research other condos with similar layouts to yours in your community. Were they renovated? If so, what changes were made?
  • What’s your budget? Set one, and then keep to it.
  • Research contractors approved by your community or referred by your neighbours.

 

Electrical and plumbing contractors may have to be community-approved.

 

These background questions can spark your creativity, inspire improvements you may not have considered, as well as perhaps shedding light on simpler and better ways to go about the changes that you already had in mind. Anything that you can glean from previous projects can aid you in completing your renovations as efficiently as possible.

 

A big part of planning is choosing materials, budgeting for them, and managing all resources so they are ready to install.

 

Codes, laws and property rules

In addition to designing your dream kitchen and lavish bedroom suite, spend an adequate amount of time researching building codes, zoning laws, property rules and regulations, and more so that you follow them precisely and avoid any issues that may halt renovations and cost a hefty fine.

Obtain the proper permits and permissions and make sure everything is up to code. When in doubt as property management.

 

Big projects such as this should be pre-approved.

 

Contractors

Some communities have approval policies for contractors, or approved contractors, especially if plumbing or electrical are required. Even if it costs extra, always use approved contractors if it’s a requirement.

Assuming you can choose contractors, not on the recommended lists, ensure you choose the most qualified professionals for the job. Many skilled contractors do not have experience in condos, as they are typically called out to renovate houses and other detached homes.

 

Does your contractor have experience working in condos? They have to consider when they can work, how to unload and bring up tools, approvals and permits, and other issues.

 

An inexperienced contractor may pressure you to renovate in hours prohibited for renovations or try to circumvent the rules. Experienced contractors also know how to get permission to bring in equipment. If you are relying on expert contractors, make sure they are expert in condominiums.

If you can find someone who is skilled, has a good reputation, and has experience with condos and other high-rises then you are well on your way to a perfectly-executed renovation at a fraction of the cost.

 

One of the most common projects in condos — resulting in big improvements in value — is flooring projects.

 

Although more skilled and experienced professionals typically cost more, you will save a tremendous amount of money in the long run by avoiding costly setbacks that arise due to unskilled labourers and unforeseen zoning or building issues. Be sure to also plan for parking, loading, lifting, and anything else that may prove difficult in a condominium.

Not everything can be done

There are some limitations you have to live with condominium communities. These rules are for the benefit of the entire community. Your work can impact their values. Plan your renovation according to your layout and the feasibility of implementing certain changes.

 

Projects such as ceramic tile and cosmetic changes are fairly safe to undertake without a lot of fuss and permissions. Ripping down walls and changing layouts, on the other and, require approvals and may not be permitted.

 

Not all changes can be made, so you should discuss these with your contractor and have him or her check out your unit and its structure completely before any work begins. Some walls, for example, can be knocked out with no problem.This can create a more open layout and provide a more modern look. However, some walls cannot be torn down. If any electrical wiring or plumbing runs through them, they will need to remain intact. Sometimes, common-area utilities (such as a duct cleaning vent) might run through your wall.

 

Don’t forget to get quotes. Ask for at least three from competitive contractors with experience in condos. You’ll save a lot of money and stress.

 

Let everyone know

Good neighbours always communicate. Keep your property manager, neighbours, and others in mind during renovations. You want to inconvenience them as little as possible. Communicate with your manager often and keep them updated on the process so they can let you know if there are any problems, as well as keep other tenants informed.

 

Is it worth it? Well, yes. Imagine the impact of that newly renovated bathroom.

 

Discuss the basics of your plans with your neighbours. Let them know when you will be starting renovations, when you plan to be finished, the level of noise they can expect, and so on. Some good ideas would be to offer earphones, perform noisy tasks at times that are most convenient — you could even pro-actively ask them when they are at work or not home.

 

 

It can be fun to consider having a “reveal party” upon completion. Provide snacks and entertainment, show off your amazing new condo, and be sure to thank your neighbours for their patience. Maybe you will even inspire them to take the leap and renovate their own space.

 

Don’t forget to invite the neighbours over for a “reveal party!”

 

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