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.