The Renovation Co-op
General Estimating Procedures
To assist its member-contractors and architects in offering quick yet accurate estimates to homeowners, The Renovation Co-op has developed a standardized system that incorporates cutting-edge technology with a set of sensible, step-by-step procedures that streamline and simplify the entire process for both member-services and homeowners alike.
At the core of this unique process is the Co-op’s cloud-based Member-Bidding System. This secure, online system obtains estimates from targeted clusters of Co-op member-service providers within a 24-48 hr. response time window.(see Step 3- Estimate Bidding Process)
One of the most common and confusing issues that homeowners face when getting estimates from contractors is the fact that there is no standard way in which those estimates are being presented to them.
For Example: If your project requires architectural drawings and a permit, many contractors will “guesstimate” the cost of getting the drawings done and “bury” the price of the drawings within the total estimate. Not only is the contractor guessing as to what the drawings will cost from his/her own architect…but more importantly, guessing as to what the architect may be faced with regarding the permit application process and how long it may take.
If a contractor is unaware of specific zoning issues or recent changes to local by-laws that may require additional permit application procedures (which could delay the permit approval by weeks or even a few months) the contractor may erroneously determine the estimate based on a 2-week start date, which may affect the contractor’s ability to fulfill the contract weeks or months later.
To help both its member-contractors and clients avoid facing such potential “disasters”, The Renovation Co-op offers a separate, Architectural Design & Permit Service which incorporates the same estimating procedures as does its General Contracting Services.
Note: Many homeowners have already purchased drawings through their own architect prior to contacting The Renovation Co-op for an estimate. The Co-op’s Architectural Design & Permit Services is offered as a convenient alternative to those clients who do not have comfortable access such services, and is designed to create more efficiency for both the homeowner and contractor alike.
By separating the architectural-related services from the actual contracting services, both the contractor and the client avoid potential conflict and/or confusion.
Architectural Design & Permit Services & General Contracting Services
Architectural-Related Estimates are processed separately from General Contracting Estimates. When you purchase your drawings through The Renovation Co-op, you take ownership and control over your own drawings, which means that you will be free to obtain estimates from any contractor(s) you choose (including an estimate from The Renovation Co-op itself).
However, if you decide to purchase your drawings through a Co-op-member architect/designer, and if the actual renovations are later performed by a member-contractor, you will receive an Architectural Rebate of up to $1500 that is applied toward your final contract price.
The Architectural Rebate is available over and above any other discounts or subsidies offered within your estimate. (see
For the most part, there are only a few minor differences between the way an estimate is process for the The Renovation Co-op’s Architectural Design & Permit Services and its General Contracting Services. However, all estimates are processed under the control of a quick and efficient protocol of step-by-step procedures.
Regardless of the size and scope of the architectural project, all estimates are processed through a proprietary Estimate Bidding System developed exclusively for The Renovation Co-op. (for details, see Member-Bidding System below)
With over 35 architectural & structural-related service providers within its membership, The Co-op must gather enough detailed information about your project in order to obtain a reasonable number of bid responses from a selected group of member-designers who regularly perform the type and level of drawings required for your project.
And, as each of the responding designer-members must guarantee their price for 30 days (as part of our member-policy), most of them will not reply with their bid unless the request contains enough information in order to commit to a price without having viewed the project personally. In essence, all designers who bid on the project must rely entirely upon the viewing designer’s ability to describe and submit all of the necessary information.
To address this problem, The Renovation Co-op will arrange for one of its senior member-specialists to conduct an Initial Site Examination.
The Initial Site Examination includes the following:
1- Depending on the type of project, the viewing specialist will first contact the municipality and conducts a Zoning Check to determine if there are any issues (if any) may have to be dealt with as part of the permit approval process. For example, trying to determine if a C of A (Committee of Adjustment) may or may not be required.
2- The designer then arranges an appointment with the homeowner to view the property, as well as to review the proposed project with the owner(s). For many permit-related projects, this initial meeting with an experienced architectural designer can become the most important briefing the owner may have in reference to the project, as it reveals potential limitations or obstacles that may or may not be encountered throughout the permit process. In reality, the Initial Site Examination is often referred to as a “Mini-Consultation”.
Note: There are some types of architectural projects that do not require Initial Site Examinations. For example, if the homeowner wants to replace a front porch, and he or she has a copy of the most recent survey and can submit photos (as instructed by your Renovation Co-op Service Rep), an estimate for the drawings may be processed without the need for a specialist to physically view the project.
Upon completion of the Initial Site Examination (or the viewing of the information submitted by the client as noted above), the viewing specialist submits the details to our Bid Preparation Team.
The role of this group is to review the information submitted by the viewing specialist and make a determination as to which member-specialists will be solicited for an estimate for the project.
Getting estimates from the best-matched specialists is essential to obtaining “apples-to-apples” pricing. Estimate requests are submitted only to those member-specialists who regularly provide the same type and level of service as required for the project.
If the estimate request is for Architectural Drawings, a bid request will only be submitted to those architectural/structural designer-members who regularly provide the type and level of drawings required for your project.
Likewise, if the estimate request is for General Contracting, the bid request will only be sent to those member-contractors who regularly perform the type and level of general contracting that is required for your project.
By limiting the bid requests to the same type and level of designers or contractors for each request, the pricing becomes more stabilized, with most estimates staying within a much tighter range. (instead of being “all over the place”).
Developed exclusively for The Renovation Co-op, our Member-Bidding System offers fast-paced, up-to-the-minute pricing within our secured, “cloud-based” Estimate Management System.
The Bidding System is designed to quickly obtain estimate bids from selected groups of member-services. As mentioned above, once a selected specialist has submitted his or her information to our Bid Preparation Team, a decision is made as to which Co-op members will receive a bid request (Invitation to Bid) for any specific job.
Bid Requests for Architectural Services
Architectural/Structural member-specialists have secure access to an Architectural-related section of the Member Bidding System, which posts all active, architectural-related bid requests. Depending on the type and level of bid requests, as well as the overall condition of the marketplace, member-designers currently view between 20-50 bid requests each week within the Toronto area alone.
As per policy, each responding specialist must submit a bid price within a 12-48 hour window. However, that time limitation may be extended up to 72 hours during times of heavy volume. The lowest bid becomes the client’s “Best Co-op Price.”
Note: Priority is given to clients who have been issued a Permit Compliance Order, as such clients can face severe penalties and or personal consequences if the Compliance Order has been issued with a short time limit (which is often the case). see Permit Compliance Services
Bid Requests for General Contracting Services
General Contractor-Members utilize the same Member-Bidding System, with secured access to general contractor-related bid requests.
30-Day Price Guarantee:
As part of of the Co-op’s bidding rules, member contractors who submit their bids for a particular project must guarantee their bid price for a period of 30 days.
It is for this reason that general contracting estimates for projects that require a permit are not processed until final drawings are completed (either by the client’s own designer or a Co-op member-designer.
Best Co-op Price
The lowest bid submitted by the targeted group of member-contractors becomes the client’s Best Co-op Price. However, if the lowest bid appears to be too “far apart” from the other bids, our Bid Preparation Team may decide to use the next lowest price as the client’s Best Co-op Price
The Reason: If the client responds to the posted estimate at a later date (see Step #4 below), the contractor who had submitted the unusually low bid may not be available to perform the work by the time the client is ready to purchase the work. In some cases, additional Subsidy Funds may be required. see Subsidy Funds and Discount Incentives
Selecting the best-matched Contractor for The Project:
Upon the determination of The Best Co-op Price, our estimating team must now decide which of its member contractors who have submitted their bids will be best-suited to perform the work upon the client’s acceptance of the final price.
This decision is not simply based upon submitted bids. Other, more important considerations are taken into consideration:
1-Geography: Which of the responding contractors’ crew will be in a relatively close physical position to the client’s home at the time the client wants to move forward?
2-Timing: How quickly can the selected contractor start the work based on the clients own start-date request?
3-Current Project Volume: How “buried” is the selected contractor with regard to current projects. Will the contractor be able to realistically perform the work, allowing for potential weather stoppages, etc.
If the selected contractor is not the contractor who had submitted the lowest bid, a request for subsidy funds (made on behalf of the project itself by the Co-op’s Estimating Dept.) may include the difference between that contractor’s bid price and the posted Best Co-op Price (lowest bid).
Subsidy Approval Process
Upon the completion of the bidding process, an automatic request for available Subsidies and other Discount Funds is made on behalf of the project. see Discount Programs
Note:This automatic request for funds is made on behalf of each and every estimate processed through the Member-Bidding System, (regardless of the size or scope of the work) and is one of the main benefits offered by The Renovation Co-op to both homeowners and member-services alike..
All Subsidy, Discount and Rebate Programs are under the strict management and control of The Canadian Renovation Funding Program, a free advisory service which also manages the referral of clients to Co-op-Approved Mortgage Brokers, Financial Consultants and other related professional services.
For the homeowner, the subsidies and other discounts that are used to lower the contract price keeps the affordability of the work at a reasonable, competitive level.
For the member-contractor, the funds used to lower the price of the contract is paid for by other sources-not by the contractor having to sacrifice quality by lowering his/her own bid price to accommodate a client’s low budget.
The client pays the discounted contract price, and the contractor is then subsidized for the difference by the Subsidy Funds and other cost-cutting assistance programs. for further information see Discount Programs
Throughout each day, several “Fund Approval Meetings” are conducted by a select group of Funding Program Managers to review each individual subsidy request submitted by The Renovation Co-op’s Estimating Team.
During these fast-paced meetings, The decision as to how much of the funds’ resources will be awarded to any individual projects takes into consideration the following:
* What is the balance of total Subsidy Funds available for remainder of any given month.
* What is the competitive nature of the type of work?
* Does the selected contractor need more fund support for this project to keep the contractor within the same area as other ongoing job?
* Financing Shortfall-If the client has applied for a combined debt-consolidation/renovation loan through a Co-op-Approved Broker, and the loan approval amount falls short of paying totally for the requested renovations, how much subsidy funding will be required to make up the difference?
Net Price: $13,820
The client is emailed a request to review the final estimate through a secured, web-based Client Viewing Portal. This 5-10 minute session takes place simultaneously with a Renovation Co-op Client Service Rep, whose role is to do following:
1-Ensure that the client can navigate through and easily understand all of the elements within the estimate.
2-Confirm with client that the description of the work within the estimate is exactly what was requested by the client. This joint review also helps the rep spot any issues that may appear within the estimate (spelling, grammar, errors in numbers, etc.).
3-Inform the client of the Subsidy Fund Withdrawal Date.
Subsidy Fund Withdrawal Date:
As per Co-op Policy, any Subsidy Funds that are offered within an estimate are subject to a 5-Day Withdrawal Date, which must be pointed out by the service rep to the client as part of the Online Review.