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Condo Renovations

Filip

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#1
Hey everyone,

I will be moving into my condo in the next few months and I'm planning serious renovations to bring this late 80s condo into the 21st century.

The building in question is Grand Harbour, the unit is approximately 1300 sqf with a 150 sqf terrace overlooking the lake. While the unit itself is in great shape with an incredible layout, there are a few aesthetic issues I'd like to take care of.



1) The kitchen is closed off and feels like a hospital corridor with appliances. Obviously, opening up the kitchen to the living space is a priority. The wall appears to be simple drywall as it is not a load bearing wall. Is it easy to receive permission to take a wall down in a condo? I have heard horror stories from uncooperative condo boards who will not approve anything relating to a unit's layout, so I'm obviously worried about this as this dated, closed off kitchen will seriously impact future resell value. Not to mention the hideous white appliances, white floor, white cabinets and white walls in that kitchen.. It needs a complete overhaul to be modern. I'm sure in 1991 this was a great kitchen (in fact Grand Harbour advertises their Cellini kitchens) as being a premium.. 20 years ago

2) I would like to install either engineered hardwood or good quality laminate in a darker wood tone, the current light wood parquet is hideous - again, what problems might I encounter with the condo board?

3) The ensuite is an incredible asset in this condo and I believe a bit of cosmetic changes to the vanity and the jacuzzi tub would help future resell value.

4) Painting would depend on the furniture I'm looking at purchasing, but from what I saw on HGTV, bright tones are the 'in' thing for condos as darker walls would make the space look smaller. I do want to take advantage of accent walls in quirky colours as I have a few pieces of original modern art I would like to showcase.

Anyway, I have budgeted about 40k for these renos, with the vast majority going towards the kitchen. An open concept kitchen in this unit, with this layout, would be a show stopper. Has anyone else here gone through renovations of their condo units and what problems did you encounter?

Thanks
 

slickpete83

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#2
post some photos of unit if you can , it would be interesting later on to see the before and after pics
 

Filip

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#3
post some photos of unit if you can , it would be interesting later on to see the before and after pics
This is definitely a long term project... We still have tenants in that unit and everything is dependent on me moving back to Toronto in late June. Once the unit is emptied I would be glad to take before photos!

Right now I'd love some advice and ideas on what to do.. It's a lovely unit with huge potential.
 

DSC

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#4
If you are concerned about what your condo Board will allow you to do I suggest that you should go and talk to the Property Manager to see what s/he can tell you. While the Board is the final authority, the Manager will know what has been allowed in the past and where there have been problems, they may also be able to introduce you to other owners who have done similar renovations. S/he may know that there are common pipes or cables in certain walls and in that case you probably can't touch these walls and there are probably Rules about sound insulation, hours of work, noise limits etc but most condo Boards are in favour of Units being renovated as this eventually raises the values of the whole building.
 

marsh

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#5
You should also review your condo by-laws. The by-laws will likely set out rules with respect to renovations. In my condo we have to get written approval for almost anything (structural, electrical, plumbing). Whether everybody does this, I don't know.
With respect to putting in engineered hardwood floors the biggest issue is sound proofing. You need to get an underlay with proper soundproofing. The condo by-laws may state this or the store where you buy your flooring should also be able to advise on the required sound proofing. As long as the sound proofing requirements are met, your condo board shouldn't have a problem with putting engineered hardwood floors.
 
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#6
If you are concerned about what your condo Board will allow you to do I suggest that you should go and talk to the Property Manager to see what s/he can tell you. While the Board is the final authority, the Manager will know what has been allowed in the past and where there have been problems, they may also be able to introduce you to other owners who have done similar renovations. S/he may know that there are common pipes or cables in certain walls and in that case you probably can't touch these walls and there are probably Rules about sound insulation, hours of work, noise limits etc but most condo Boards are in favour of Units being renovated as this eventually raises the values of the whole building.
I dug this thread up during a Google search of legal decisions regarding renovations. This one says it all.

I drew the following from a PDF write-up on the case:

The condo’s house rules deal with “alterations and renovations” in the following terms: 1. Any owner/tenant having alterations done in his or her suite shall not permit anything to be done that will obstruct or interfere with the rights of other owners/tenants or in any way have a detrimental effect on other suites in the common elements. Noise and nuisance should be kept to a minimum. It is also an imperative that the appearance of the building be protected and that its structural integrity be safeguarded. Any owner/tenant having work done is expected to follow not only the letter of this article but also its spirit. 2. Any owner/tenant planning alterations must have his or her plan approved in writing by the manager before any work is begun. Depending on the nature of the alterations, board approval may be required and the manager will advise the owner/tenant accordingly. If the planning alterations will take longer than four weeks, written board approval is required.
7. In the event that there is a change in, or deviation from, the plans approved by the manager or the board, as the case may be, such change or deviation, however slight, cannot be proceeded with until the manager has approved the change or deviation in writing.
8. Management has the right to monitor work being done in a suite. In enforcing the declaration and house rules, the manager or a member of the building staff may enter the suite and may order that work be halted.
The court found that these rules “are a proper exercise of the board’s authority,” granted by s. 58 of the Condominium Act, 1998. Accordingly, these rules, which are typical, have obtained the court’s “seal of approval.”

And now to vent...

I have been on the condo board for four years. It's an older building and most of the newbies want to renovate. I get that. We did a major reno as well and, before we did, we checked that Declaration, the bylaws, etc. 5,000 times to ensure that everything was by the book.

Now I find myself repeatedly stunned, aggravated, frustrated, angry, furious, exhausted by purchasers who waltz in here and, never mind are ignorant of the term "exclusive use common element" or that CEFs have a tendency to climb every year, but who think they can do whatever they want in their suites: move the kitchen to one of the bathrooms, re-configure plumbing through walls and risers, eliminate Bell lines (even though that impacts everybody above them), drill through load-bearing walls, snake dryer vents up, down, around corners, etc.

And then, when the Board says, uh...no... they threaten to sue. They will lose and eat the damages but not without causing us considerable aggro, time and energy first.

So what's the problem?

Real estate agents who say they can renovate however they wish? (No offence to real estate agents here but, as far as I am concerned, they can say whatever they like.)

Lawyers who -- irresponsibly, in my opinion -- know nothing about condo law but take on clients who are buying and whom they don't advise to read the Declaration, etc.?

Idiot buyers who sign on the dotted line but don't read the fine print?

Right now, we are facing a situation with all of the above and this Board has now spend over 10 hours in the past month alone dealing with two newbies who are totally clueless.

GAHHHHHH.

Thank you for reading.
 

ttk77

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#7
I dug this thread up during a Google search of legal decisions regarding renovations. This one says it all.

I drew the following from a PDF write-up on the case:




And now to vent...

I have been on the condo board for four years. It's an older building and most of the newbies want to renovate. I get that. We did a major reno as well and, before we did, we checked that Declaration, the bylaws, etc. 5,000 times to ensure that everything was by the book.

Now I find myself repeatedly stunned, aggravated, frustrated, angry, furious, exhausted by purchasers who waltz in here and, never mind are ignorant of the term "exclusive use common element" or that CEFs have a tendency to climb every year, but who think they can do whatever they want in their suites: move the kitchen to one of the bathrooms, re-configure plumbing through walls and risers, eliminate Bell lines (even though that impacts everybody above them), drill through load-bearing walls, snake dryer vents up, down, around corners, etc.

And then, when the Board says, uh...no... they threaten to sue. They will lose and eat the damages but not without causing us considerable aggro, time and energy first.

So what's the problem?

Real estate agents who say they can renovate however they wish? (No offence to real estate agents here but, as far as I am concerned, they can say whatever they like.)

Lawyers who -- irresponsibly, in my opinion -- know nothing about condo law but take on clients who are buying and whom they don't advise to read the Declaration, etc.?

Idiot buyers who sign on the dotted line but don't read the fine print?

Right now, we are facing a situation with all of the above and this Board has now spend over 10 hours in the past month alone dealing with two newbies who are totally clueless.

GAHHHHHH.

Thank you for reading.
Not really surprised. Most people seem to live by the "it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission" rule these days and then are shocked and mystified that there are any consequences to their actions. I live in an older building as well, and if I remember correctly, when my agent was showing me around security handed her a copy of the renovation rules before they even gave her the key lock-box. I gather they've had problems in the past as well. I'm planning my own renovations at the moment, and I've found the condo corporation fairly accommodating to deal with so far.
 
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#8
Not really surprised. Most people seem to live by the "it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission" rule these days and then are shocked and mystified that there are any consequences to their actions. I live in an older building as well, and if I remember correctly, when my agent was showing me around security handed her a copy of the renovation rules before they even gave her the key lock-box. I gather they've had problems in the past as well. I'm planning my own renovations at the moment, and I've found the condo corporation fairly accommodating to deal with so far.
Thank you for acknowledging my frustration.

We're accommodating. We couldn't have made the process more simple, with a detailed package, complete with table of contents, a copy of the relevant portions of the Declaration and bylaws, etc., an attached Reno in Our Building for Dummies etc. We take the time to talk to owners, do site visits, walk contractors through the suites and say, this is a load-bearing wall, you gotta call Bell before you remove this non-load bearing wall, etc. We put it in writing. We couldn't do more if we showed up with the hammers and wrenches ourselves.

But some people just get it in their heads that they want the kitchen to have the balcony access or whatever and they just don't get why they can't move the plumbing 20 feet from the stack (or whatever.)
 

Filip

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#9
Oh wow.. What a blast from the past! I eventually did the renos... 5 years later than planned, but done and looking gorgeous.

I did everything I wanted, and more - the board was very accommodating, and rules are strict, but are meant to prevent someone from knocking out something critical. My biggest pain was a Bell riser in the kitchen wall I was removing. That was an unnecessary and complex expense.

unnamed.jpg


and a before showing the sadness...

unnamed (1).jpg
 

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ttk77

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#10
Wow. That looks great. Great space too. Condo kitchens tend to be tiny, but this one actually looks functional for someone who likes to cook.

I apologize if this isn't the place for it, but there seem to be folks on both sides of the equation here (condo board and those who have done renovations), and I feel like I could get some valuable advice. The issue in my building is that the rules are quite vague, specifically around flooring.

I understand that in many buildings they have strict rules around what kinds of flooring you can install and what types of noise dampening underlays need to be used. The rules in my building mention underlays for hardwood and laminate but they don't say it's required. I went to the property manager and asked for clarification and he said there are no specific rules around flooring. Owners are welcomed to install whatever type of flooring they want, but that they will use the quiet enjoyment rules to force remediation if things get too noisy for downstairs neighbours. I'm not really sure how to proceed.
 

Filip

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#11
Wow. That looks great. Great space too. Condo kitchens tend to be tiny, but this one actually looks functional for someone who likes to cook.

I apologize if this isn't the place for it, but there seem to be folks on both sides of the equation here (condo board and those who have done renovations), and I feel like I could get some valuable advice. The issue in my building is that the rules are quite vague, specifically around flooring.

I understand that in many buildings they have strict rules around what kinds of flooring you can install and what types of noise dampening underlays need to be used. The rules in my building mention underlays for hardwood and laminate but they don't say it's required. I went to the property manager and asked for clarification and he said there are no specific rules around flooring. Owners are welcomed to install whatever type of flooring they want, but that they will use the quiet enjoyment rules to force remediation if things get too noisy for downstairs neighbours. I'm not really sure how to proceed.
Thanks! Yes indeed, as someone who enjoys dabbling in the kitchen, having a gourmet kitchen was high up on my list of reno priorities (I didn't even reno the bathrooms aside from painting - the marble still looks good 26 years on).

I would highly recommend you get underlay to avoid any unpleasantries down the road. I have laminate floors with a cork underlay as per the very specific instructions from my condo board. There are numerous types of underlays, so I don't think you can go wrong, but certainly think about putting it in.
 

ttk77

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#12
The problem is, the product I'm looking at is neither hardwood nor laminate. It's a luxury vinyl product...the surface really does look and feel exactly like hardwood, and it will stand up well in high traffic and high moisture areas. It also on it's own has much better noise dampening properties than hardwood or laminate, but not quite as good as hardwood with a high quality underlay. The particular version I'm looking at is a glue down product, so it can't have an underlay. In that respect, it's more like putting down a tile floor.
 

Filip

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#13
The problem is, the product I'm looking at is neither hardwood nor laminate. It's a luxury vinyl product...the surface really does look and feel exactly like hardwood, and it will stand up well in high traffic and high moisture areas. It also on it's own has much better noise dampening properties than hardwood or laminate, but not quite as good as hardwood with a high quality underlay. The particular version I'm looking at is a glue down product, so it can't have an underlay. In that respect, it's more like putting down a tile floor.
I'm not the right person to comment, but it sounds like a good buy. Good luck!
 

tripwire

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#14
Would there be problems in general (permission wise) moving the stove to the island? New venting would have to be added on the ceiling. I'm not sure how well the in-island air sucking system works, and would prefer the hanging hood vent.
 

DSC

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#15
Would there be problems in general (permission wise) moving the stove to the island? New venting would have to be added on the ceiling. I'm not sure how well the in-island air sucking system works, and would prefer the hanging hood vent.
I would depend on whether the existing vent pipes are in the common elements or are within the Unit. In my building the kitchens have dropped ceilings (for all the vents etc) but the Unit Boundary is the base of the ceiling slab so the Unit vent pipes belong to owners and we allow owners to do whatever they want with 'their vents'. Of course, we ensure they are properly attached to the common element vent stacks (we have common vent stacks here). In our Unit we added additional venting to bring the kitchen vent pipe 'entrance' through the dropped ceiling space by a few feet and attached it to the stove hood ; and it works FAR better.