Initial Preparation…

Things you should know before the estimate process begins…

Adding an addition or extension to your home will likely be the largest single purchase you will ever make (other than the home itself).

But it can also become your biggest nightmare if such a project is not carefully planned out beforehand and managed efficiently.

It is far more important to avoid potential problems than having to deal with them after they occur!

Selecting your Architect/Designer

Selecting the best Architectural Designer for your project…

While most homeowners tend to focus on the importance of selecting the best contractor for their renovation project, it is equally critical to choose an Architect/Designer is who is most familiar with your local municipality’s by-law and how they administrate specific types of permit requests, which can differ from one municipality to the next.

It is also imperative that you make sure that he or she will work effectively with both yourself and  your contractor. For the most part, larger renovation projects become highly successful when the contractor, the architect and the owner are able to establish good, professional working relationships between themselves.

The Renovation Co-op offers its own, separate Architectural Design & Permit Services. However, some clients have already hired (or plan to hire) their own architect before requesting an estimate for the actual work. This will have no effect on our estimating procedures. However, there will be slight differences regarding the process:

  • If your drawings are not being completed by one of the Co-op’s own member-specialists, our Contractor Estimating Process will not commence until you provide copies of both the final, Stamped Drawings and the approved Permit.

This can potentially save a lot of “heartache” if your architect is still waiting for the “dust to clear” with the municipality, or if the permit application has not yet been submitted to the city.

Note: As established within the Co-op’s Estimating Procedures, all member-contractors who bid on the project (see Estimating Procedures) must guarantee their price for 30 days following submission. (We already know the speed and efficiency of our own architectural specialists but unfortunately, there are some designers and architects (unfamiliar to our organization) who may take longer to complete the entire process).

  • If your drawings are being completed by one of our member-specialists, the estimating process will begin on completion of the Final Permit Drawings, but prior to the permit application process which in essence, will save you approximately 2 weeks.

If you hire your own architect or designer, we recommend that you establish and/or clarify several important issues with him or her (regardless of whether you hire one of the Co-op’s member contractors) to ensure a smooth,  working relationship between the two parties:

For example:

* If your contractor needs to speak to the architect/designer for any reason before or during the job, will your architect charge you an extra fee for the time spent during that conversation?

* Will your architect/designer be readily available for such a request by the contractor, so as not to delay the project?

* It is also a good idea to ask the architect whether he or she will be vacationing or going out-of-town during the course of the project and if so, will he or she still maintain contact with you by email or texting during the course of the project, in case an architectural-related issue needs to be dealt with by the contractor.

These are valid points to discuss when hiring an architect/designer, as no one wants to experience unnecessary delays during the project. If your contractor needs to clarify an important issue regarding the drawings, and your architect/designer is unavailable, your project could suddenly come to a grinding halt, pending resolution of the issue…Not a good thing for your contractor, the sub-trades or yourself.

Types of Additions…

2nd-Storey Additions (“Top-ups”)

Rear Additions

Side Additions

Unfinished “Shells”



The most common types of extensions built on residential properties within the core of the GTA are placed at the rear of the house. This is mostly due to the lack of available space at the side or front of most homes within the region.

Single-Storey and 2-Storey Rear Extensions are built for a variety of purposes, including the expansion of a Kitchen, an additional Bedroom(s) and/or Bathroom, or an enclosed Sunroom or Enclosure etc. (See Sunrooms & Enclosures)

Note: For these types of projects, it is import that you hire an architect or licensed BCIN Designer who is highly experienced and knowledgeable with regards to all up-to-date local, municipal bylaws, which have been changing rapidly throughout the last 5-10 years, mostly due to the high volume of construction and demand for housing throughout the region.

The ability to provide drawings for the permit is one thing…but knowing how to present them to examiners and inspectors, and how to get through all the administrative “red tape” on your behalf is quite another.

If you do not have your own architect or licensed designer, please let us know and we will be happy to process an estimate for the architectural drawings and permit process through our Architectural Design & Permit Services, which are purchased independently.

Note: If you purchase the drawings through a Co-op Member Specialist, and you later wind up buying the renovations through a member-contractor, you will receive an Architectural Rebate up to $1500 that gets deducted from the final price of construction. For details, visit our Architectural Design & Permit Services

Laneway Housing

Laneway/Carriage Houses

In June, 2018 the City of Toronto approved a zoning change that allows for the construction of “Laneway” Housing Units (also referred to as “Carriage Houses).

This bold, innovative legislation now enables many homeowners to convert their rear, detached garage (or empty backyard space) into a 1-2 story rental property without the need for going through a Committee of Adjustment review.

Note: There are some restrictions. For example, the structure must be fully detached from the main house.

There are other specific restrictions that apply with regards to obtaining a building permit, etc. For details go to to request an estimate for drawings & permit process. You will be contacted immediately.

The new approval for laneway housing represents a meaningful solution to the lack of rental housing within the core of the city, and also adds a new option for renters in the type of units that are close to transportation.

The design & style of a Laneway House is almost limitless, as these units are fully detached from the main house itself, which makes the design non-dependant upon the main house’s design.

Rental Income & Added Property Value: Depending upon the design, the  type of accommodations you decide to add within the unit, as well as the area, high-quality tenants will pay a premium price for such a desirable rental unit.

Compared to the added-value created through the conversion of your basement into a rental apartment (which can be substantial unto itself), the-added value from the construction of a separate, income-producing Laneway Rental Unit will be unsurpassed.

In addition, for those homeowners who prefer not to have “total strangers” living in their basement, a laneway rental unit offers a high degree of privacy.

Payment Arrangements

Who will pay the contractor?

For most additions or other large-scale renovations, financing will play a significant role in how the work will be paid for.

Our member-contractors will establish a carefully-spelled out Progressive Payment Schedule (also known as a “Staged Payment Schedule”). The client agrees to make such payments based upon the completion of specific, defined events, such as $XX on completion of framing or drywall, or $XX upon the installation of kitchen cabinets, etc.

Prior to making each progressive payment, the client will inspect the work contained in the defined “progressive event”, verifying its completion.

These are the typical payment procedures incorporated throughout the construction of a new home. On the recommendation of The Renovation Co-op, all member-contractors have incorporated such payment procedures into all renovation agreements, regardless of scope of work and/or size.

These important, scheduled payments enable the contractor to make on-time payments to his or her sub-trades or suppliers as per their own specific arrangements, many of which are established by signed contracts.

However, if your project is to be financed by a construction loan through a larger, institutional lender (such as a major bank), where the payments are made directly by the lender to the contractor, and the lender is unwilling or unable to adhere to the same payment schedule agreed to by both yourself and the contractor, it could spell big trouble for the contractor, who has also made individual agreements to pay his or her own sub-trades based on the same payment agreement.

This has recently become a serious issue within the industry, but one that can be easily avoided if the client knows to ask the lender (up-front) about its progressive payment policies when financing a construction loan.

Unfortunately, most of the major banks are simply not very good at providing construction-related loans that will accommodate both the homeowner and the contractor, which is the reason why The Renovation Co-op decided years ago to develop a separate, well-managed source of Financial Services for both its clients and member-contractors alike.

For further information see Financial Services

Estimating Procedures

Renovation Management Platform

To help its member-contractors and architects submit quick, yet accurate estimates to homeowners, The Renovation Co-op has developed a proprietary Renovation Management Platform that incorporates cutting-edge technology with sensible, step-by-step procedures that streamline and simplify the entire process for both member-services and homeowners alike. In addition, the system is designed to work with all types and levels of projects.

Member-Bidding System

At the core of this unique process is the Co-op’s cloud-based Member-Bidding System. This secured, online portal enables selected, member-contractors to place their bids on a specific project.

Step 1: Initial Site Visit

A designated, Senior-Level Contractor is selected to conduct a visit to the property, which includes personally reviewing the final drawings and the proposed work with the client, which gives the contractor a more personalized idea as to exactly what the client wants. The contractor then records and submits all of the information regarding the work to be performed throughout the project.

Note: The “viewing” contractor accesses a remote, secured data system developed by The Renovation Co-op that helps create the detailed “Scope of Work” (descriptions of all items to be performed as part of the project).

Step 2: Bid Preparation

Step 2: The information is submitted to the Co-op’s Bid Preparation Team. The group reviews the information and then creates a targeted list of those contractor-members who regularly perform the same type and level of work required to fulfill the client’s project, and who would be best-matched to work with that client.

The selection of each contractor in this targeted group of contractors is also determined by each contractor’s stated, preferred geographical radius to the location of the work, as well as his/her own posted availability on the system.

Step 3: Invitation to Bid…

Upon determining the targeted group of member-contractors, a Bid Request Package (also called an “Invitation to Bid”) is submitted to each of these contractors, which includes copies of the Final Permit Drawings, the Scope of Work and any additional comments entered by the viewing contractor.

Step 4: Contractor Bidding

The effectiveness of the process ensures that every contractor will submit a bid price for the same, detailed information that was originally entered by the viewing contractor.

Note: When viewing the project, the senior contractor accesses a secured, remote data entry system that precisely describes the Scope of Work (Description of the work required to complete the project).

Unfortunately, too many contractors in the industry will rely solely on the statement “Perform work as per drawings…” in the wording of their contracts, which over-simplifies the contract and leaves too much room for confusion and arguments when it comes to performing the actual work.

With our estimating system, all of the details are entered into the contract.

Each bid request contains a date limit by which the contractor must enter his or her bid.

This “Bid Response Time Window” is determined by the size and scope of the work. However, the targeted group of contractors must be given enough time to check availability and pricing from their sub-trades, suppliers, etc. before they commit to a price.

Note: Each responding contractor must guarantee their bid price for 30 days following his/her bid submission.

This is one of the main reasons why the Co-op will not process an estimate until the drawings and permit processing are completed.

Step 5: Subsidy Funding Request

Upon completion of the bidding process, an automatic request is sent to The Canadian Renovation Funding Program to seek any subsidy funds or rebates that may be available to credit towards the project. In addition to its role as a free loan advisory service

The Program is also responsible for the fiduciary management of all Subsidy and Rebate Programs on behalf of The Renovation Co-op.

The granting of subsidy funds for each request normally takes 4-6 hours, and is largely based upon the availability of funds at the time of the request, the geographical location and the type of project.

Step 6: Online Estimate Review…

An appointment is arranged between a Renovation Co-op Service Rep and the client to simultaneously review the completed estimate through our secured, web-based system.

During this 5-minute review, the rep must verify that the client fully understands what is being presented, and that the client can properly navigate through the sections of the estimate. See example below…

Subsidy Withdrawal Policy:

As stated within each estimate, if there are Subsidy Funds being offered within the estimate, those funds are withdrawn after 5 business days following Estimate Review.

Note: Once the automatic request for subsidy funds has been approved, those funds are placed on hold and set aside for 5 business days pending a deposit or contract between the selected contractor and the homeowner. If there is no deal signed between the two parties at the end of those 5 days, the subsidy amount is withdrawn from the estimate, and the funds are placed back into the main Subsidy Discount Fund.

If the client accepts the deal, the subsidy discount amount is deducted from the final sale price, and the contractor is later credited (“subsidized), with the same discounted amount by the Funding Program.

The 5 business-day withdrawal period, during which the funds are segregated and held, virtually guarantees to the contractor that those funds have been set aside and will be available if there is an agreement signed with the client.