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Don’t fear the winter renovation

Renovating in the winter may seem unusual, but with a bit of preparation the new year can be a very good time to take on a project.

Two of the biggest factors in a winter renovation are cold weather and snow, which require some precautionary measures. Talking to your renovator about these challenges in advance will save you both time and money says RenoMark renovator and chair of BILD’s Renovation and Custom Builder Council Sam Lapidus.

If you’re doing a major renovation you may need to move out of your home for a few weeks. Make arrangements for salting and snow removal to make sure your contractors have easy access to and from your home. Ask your renovator if this is a service they provide, and if there’s an added cost make sure it is noted in your renovation contract.

When you move out of your home it may cool down significantly. Even if the heat is still on you still run the risk of water freezing inside your pipes causing them to burst. Don’t leave anything to chance. Call your municipality to shut the water off at the street side, or have a plumber heat the water line coming into your house.

If you live in a townhome or a semi-detached house, be mindful of how a winter renovation can affect your neighbours. These types of homes have shared walls and those living on the other side of the wall may be affected if the temperature in your home drops significantly. If the shared wall is not properly insulated talk to your renovator about installing some temporary insulation to prevent heat loss. This may result in additional fees have this conversation ahead of time.

Make sure your project contract outlines the full scope of work and all associated costs. Renovators who urge you to forego a written contract should be avoided. It’s a telltale sign that they are not professionals. Verbal agreements will not give you a reference point if there is a conflict over payment, and you’ll have a hard time holding your renovator accountable for sub-par work.

Hiring a professional is key to every successful renovation and there are hundreds of them across the GTA. A good place to find one is at – home of the national RenoMark program. All RenoMark renovators agree to abide by a Code of Conduct which holds them to a number of obligations. In addition to providing a written contract, they carry all applicable licenses and permits, are covered by at least $2 million worth of liability insurance and offer a minimum two-year warranty on all work.

Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (, Facebook ( and BILD’s official online blog (

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