• Dragan (Dan) Acimovic

The Benefits of Home Renovations

#renovations #hireanarchitect #residentialrenovations #LicTechOAA

In today’s real estate market, home ownership is quickly becoming a dream for many. Often times, first time buyers are purchasing run down properties in order to make that dream a reality. Established home owners are realizing that moving is simply too expensive due to the sky rocketing home prices.

Existing one storey bungalow in Streetsville

Second storey addition for a multi-generational home

Sooner or later, both realize that renovation of their properties is their best option. Home renovations are beneficial not just for the owners, but the community at large. There are social, economic and environmental benefits to renovating. By staying in the neighbourhood, the owners contribute to the sense of community. Renovations, if well planned, should result in reasonable costs and a significant increase in the property value. And instead of tearing down their existing home and sending it to the landfill, the existing materials can be re-used or re-cycled.

The best advice I can give anyone considering renovations is to hire the right professionals. An experienced, licensed designer and an interior designer will prepare a comprehensive set of documents that will result in an expedient permit process and will limit the number of costly changes and surprises during construction. We find that when clients skimp on this process that they typically pay more for items they did not consider during construction. Coordination of all of the house systems such as structural, heating, electrical as well as interior finishes and furniture is pivotal to the project success.

The hired licensed designer (architect, licensed technologist or a BCIN holder) must have a signed, up to date survey of the property in order to begin the design process. The survey allows for a comprehensive zoning review. Often times, the proposed design is in violation of the current zoning by laws. This does not mean the end of the project, but it may require asking the City planning department for a minor variance for specific infractions. The process is not complicated, but can take months to complete. Occasionally projects also require approvals by Conservations Authorities, Heritage Boards and Site Plan Approvals.

Once zoning is approved and the design is verified by the owners, the designer can proceed with a comprehensive building permit set of documents which can be submitted to the Building Department for approval. This set will require architectural, structural, heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing information. The documents must meet the minimum standards of the Ontario Building Code. Once again, coordination of these systems is pivotal to the success of the project.

The final important decision is to hire a professional, experienced and insured contractor with a good reputation. We always recommend asking three qualified contractors for quotations that explains every step in the process and provides costs for each. Duration of the construction should also be stipulated in the quote as well as the contractors start and completion dates. The scheduling of qualified sub trades is often one of the most difficult goals to achieve.

By respecting and appreciating existing traditional quality housing units, home owners can greatly improve their own lives by building reasonable and appropriate additions that stay within budget while benefiting community and the environment.

By salvaging most of the existing post war bungalow, this Mississauga home owner added a second storey, resulting in a home that allowed three generations to live together.

Author’s Bio - Dragan (Dan) Acimovic is a Licensed Architectural Technologist with the Ontario Association of Architects. Since earning his Diploma of Architectural Technology from Fanshawe College, he returned to school and received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Master of Architecture from Lawrence Tech University in Southfield, Michigan. Dan maintains an architectural technology and design practice called da design inc in Port Credit and has been active in the profession for 25 years. He is also a full time professor of Architectural Technology at Sheridan College in Mississauga since 2011. He can be reached at dan@dadesigninc.ca