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Where Should You Look For Ideas?

Honestly, Pinterest. Sure, there’s a plethora of magazines out there but they cost money and Pinterest is free and any idea usually links back to a web post explaining the idea and sometimes, how it was done and how much it might cost for your project.

The number of ideas for home renovations on Pinterest is probably more than you’ll ever have time to look at. Make sure to narrow down your search to find what you’re really looking for.

Also, browse the stores. Go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Rona, and Ikea. And when it comes to tiles and flooring, there are a large number of specialty stores in Ottawa you can check out. But if you keep an eye out, there are always great deals to find at the big-box type stores.

For other companies, here are some options:



For more ideas, check out our gallery page and our Pinterest.

What Is Your Budget?

Some of this discussion was covered in a previous post, but if you’ve jumped around my website and ended up here, I’ll go over a few important things related to budget.

It is important to have realistic goals and to anticipate that there might be complications. While ORG strives to eliminate the possibility of issues during a renovation project, we can’t always know what’s behind the walls until we open them up. If you have an older home, this is more of a concern.

When settling on a budget and saving your money, think about what you want to see in the space you’re renovating. Research the price differences between different finishing materials. Get a feel for the differences in flooring, and what you’d want for the long term. Or, conversely, if you’re simply updating your home for resale value, be programmatic and strike a balance between basic finishes and high-end options.

Once you know where your renovation is heading, you’ll have a better idea of how much you should be saving for your project.

For example, 20k can get you a nicely finished bathroom renovation, but a comparatively minimal renovation to a kitchen with lower-end finishes (and that’s assuming you are using Ikea cabinetry over other competitors).

A lot of homeowners tend to underestimate the cost of things they cannot see. So remember that a whole bathroom renovation is not just a vanity switch-out, dropping in a new tub, and uprooting the toilet for a new one. It means dry-wall repair, potentially new flooring, new plumbing fixtures, caulking, painting, screws, nails, trim, a new tub usually means new shower tiles — which in turn means, mud, grout, tile-spacers, tile edging trim, additional time is required for inset shelving, and more.

While none of the above items, on their own, seem costly — It can be shocking to see all the little things add up.

Choosing a Renovation Company

Some might ask why I decided to write a post about ‘Choosing a Renovation Company’ because clearly it would stand to reason that I’d want a homeowner to choose my company for their next renovation. And while this is true, I always advise potential clients to ask themselves a few questions and consider a few different things before making that final decision.

Question 1: Is it a renovation or a minor repair?

The first thing you should consider is whether your renovation is worthy of a home renovation company with all the bells and whistles of having a certified electrician and plumber and engineer on standby, or is your home project more appropriate for a handy man?

This is important because a handy man will charge far less to tackle these types of projects (i.e. minor deck repairs, adjusting cabinetry, fixtures removal and replace, etc.) than a contractor would.

However, if you’re planning to overhaul that 1980’s kitchen or update a lackluster bathroom, a contractor is the way to go. They’ll have more knowledge, experience, the right set of tools and experts to get the job done right the first time.

Question 2: How many quotes should I get? And what should I be looking for?

The industry standard is to obtain three separate quotes. When setting up appointments with renovation companies to come out to your house and discuss the proposed project, make sure you pay attention to how soon they get back to you, how direct they are, and whether they show up on time (or at all).

I am always surprised by how often potential clients have informed me that I was the only contractor to show up. This should be a clear red flag.

During the meeting, ask questions and listen to the answers you’re given. Was your question actually answered? There are some cases where it’s acceptable for a contractor not to have an immediate answer to something (perhaps it’s engineering related, or electrical and he’d rather defer to his experts), but there are things that any contractor in the City of Ottawa should know and that is standard building code practice, and whether or not projects require a building permit (more on this here). Pretty soon I’ll be making a post about the right type of questions you should ask and what answers you should be looking for, so stay tuned!

When you receive your quote, look for details. Read the quote in full. Ask questions about things you’re not sure of, or that you find unclear. I have been preparing quotes for 8 years now, and I’ve come to realize that the best way to ensure an organized renovation project is to create a very detailed quote broken down in a logical manner starting from demolition and ending with finishing details (trim, paint touch-ups, hardware, etc…). Lastly, make sure you know what you’re contractor is paying for in terms of materials, and what is your responsibility.

Question 3: What about the old budget discussion?

This is a tricky topic. I’ve discovered a lot of homeowners are reluctant to discuss their renovation budget. Given the way TV often portrays home renovation contractors, I’m not surprised. There is an assumption that if you tell a contractor your budget, he’ll maximize it even if he doesn’t need to. Though I can’t speak to any other company, I can tell you that knowing the budget for me is a paramount discussion. For a number of different reasons, but first and foremost is that I need to know if your budget is realistic as there is a lot of misconception in this industry about what is feasible for what price.

For more information about various costs of different types of renovations and the factors involved, please check out my other posts:

Building Permit Drawings

If you are thinking of finishing your basement, or even considering a small basement renovation (maybe an extra bedroom or a bathroom), please review this article we posted that discusses whether or not you need a building permit.

If the answer is yes, you’ll be happy to know that we also offer permit drawings for basement renovations. An example of an approved permit drawing is provided below. The cost of these drawings will be discussed as part of your renovation project.


If you still have questions, please feel free to give us a call.

Bathroom Renovation Costs

A bathroom is probably only second to a kitchen on most homeowners list of rooms to renovate. As with any room in the home there are many different looks (modern, contemporary, classic) that can be achieved in a bathroom and it really is ultimately the decision of the homeowner as to what products they select. That being said here are some current trending looks:

  • Large format (12″x24″) floor tiles
  • Glass shower enclosures
  • Heated floors
  • Floating vanities
  • Dual shower heads arranged in many different ways
  • pot lights/recessed lights used above showers
  • double sink vanities

Cost and Length of a Bathroom Renovation

The cost to renovate a bathroom can vary significantly depending on:

  • size of the bathroom
  • finishing materials selected
  • enlarging the current space
  • addition of custom glass enclosures
  • relocating plumbing supply and drain lines
  • if City of Ottawa building permits are required

A typical bathroom would cost approximately $15,000 and take 2 weeks to complete . This figure can be increased with high end finishes with the sky being the limit. It can also be decreased by shopping with a budget conscious mind. Here is an example of a recently completed bathroom and the costs associated with it:

Ottawa bathroom entrance doorOttawa vanity and shower

  • Was not a full gut as the ceiling and walls where utilities (plumbing, electrical) were not located were left in place. The window was also not replaced as it was in good shape.
  • New double sink vanity from IKEA
  • New tall storage cabinet from IKEA
  • New vanity light and ceiling light
  • New floor tiles (no under floor heat)
  • New trim, 2 doors, new light switches and receptacles
  • Mirror was salvaged from old bathroom
  • Toilet was reused from old bathroom
  • New standard tub from Home Depot
  • All new shower tiles including a full width inset shelf with solid Quartz shelf, mosaic tile inlay, and white porcelain tiles
  • All new antique bronze shower controllers
  • New dual hinged glass shower door
  • Bathroom fan install as there was no fan previously
  • Paint

Cost for materials including plumber’s cost : $6,137.23

Cost for labour : $8,588.00

Total cost including HST : $14,725.23

Materials in a Bathroom

The following products are preferred products that Ottawa Renovation Group uses during a bathroom renovation:

  • Schluter ditra tile underlayment is the best tile underlayment in the industry. It is waterproof to protect your subfloor, an uncoupling membrane to protect from cracking, and is thin allowing a flooring transition to be accomplished seamlessly
  • Densshield tile backer is a gypsum board with a waterproof membrane on the surface. This is our preferred material for shower tile installation

There are an abundant of choices when it comes to vanities, toilets, showers and it comes down to your personal preference and budget. When it comes to floor and wall coverings you can’t beat the look and durability of tile and that is what I would always recommend. For more information on an Ottawa bathroom renovation feel free to give us a call

Do you require a building permit?

Obtaining a City of Ottawa building permit is not as hard or as costly as most think. In my opinion it is also invaluable if reselling your home is to ever be considered in the near future. It gives buyers peace of mind that the home they are viewing has had the work done properly and legally.

An application form can be found here:    City of Ottawa building permit application form

Projects that require a City of Ottawa building permit:

  • The construction of a new building, an addition, or alteration of any building or structure with a building area of over 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet or just larger than 10 foot x 10 foot).
  • A deck that is:
    • adjacent to or attached to the house and its walking surface is more than 600 mm (24 in.) above the adjacent grade
    • elevated and providing principal access to a building
    • independent from the house and has a walking surface greater than 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) in area and its walking surface is more than 600 mm (24 in.) above the adjacent grade
  • Interior and exterior structural alterations, such as:
    • adding or removing walls, i.e., creating different room sizes and/or uses
    • one- and two-storey additions
    • new windows where there were none before
    • enlarging or relocating a window or door
  • Finishing a basement
  • Attached or detached garages and sheds
  • Alterations to a plumbing system (except replacing fixtures)

There are many other projects not listed here, as they do not relate to our scope of work, that require building permits in the City of Ottawa. For a complete list visit the link below:

Complete list of projects that require a building permit

To put the above information in perspective the average kitchen or bathroom renovation does not require a City of Ottawa building permit. In a kitchen or bathroom, a City of Ottawa building permit is required only if structural changes are being made or there are going to be alterations the home’s plumbing system (i.e. moving fixtures). From my experience, the average kitchen or bathroom renovation leaves fixtures where they were and walls where were they were.

Surprising to most, a basement renovation always requires a City of Ottawa building permit.

An average deck also requires a City of Ottawa building permit as most are larger than 108 square feet, or are higher than 24 inches from the ground.

Cost of a City of Ottawa building permit

A City of Ottawa building permit is surprisingly not expensive. It totals a whopping 1.2% of the overall cost of a project. This means that for every $1000 dollars of renovation cost the permit cost is $12.00 dollars. There is a minimum fee of $80.00 dollars. This permit fee also includes the plumbing inspection portion of a permit. There are added costs to some projects that may include:

  • cost to have professional drawings made to be submitted with the permit application form
  • construction delay costs

Construction delay costs with an organized contractor can be eliminated. Of course, there can be unforeseen delays any time when dealing with the city but typically with good planning and experience the permit process can be seamless in the renovation project and not cause any delays.

Steps to obtain your City of Ottawa building permit

  • determine whether your project requires a permit
  • fill out the application form
  • if your project requires drawings (i.e. deck permit, addition, structural changes, basement), obtain drawings
  • submit your completed application form and two sets of drawings to any of the client service centres located at:
    • 110 Laurier avenue west (downtown)
    • 101 Centrepointe drive (nepean)
    • 255 Centrum Blvd. (orleans)
    • 580 Terry Fox drive (kananta)

Working with a contractor who is familiar with the permit process in the City of Ottawa is a key step to a successful renovation. Every professional contractor will be knowledgeable in the permit process and will not be scared away if you mention you want a permit. If you require more information regarding the permit process feel free to give us a call.

Home Reno’s and Ottawa Zoning

Most homeowners are not aware of the possible complications that can arise in respect to what they are permitted to build on their property. We often have clients looking for a new deck or addition, and in some cases, the desired size of their project may encroach on the required setbacks imposed by the City of Ottawa Zoning By-law.

The City of Ottawa website is an important first step, and it contains many useful links for determining the restrictions that are applicable to your property.

This information is extremely important and necessary for those wanting a new deck, or perhaps an addition to their existing building.

It is important to note that if you are in an older part of the City, such as New Edinburgh, or Lowertown, you may run into encroachment issues whereby your existing deck or porch may be partly on City property. This has occurred over time as roads have been widened over the years to accommodate the increase in traffic.

To better educate my clients, I like to provide them with some basic tools so that they may be equipped with the knowledge to know what they can do on their own land. Please see the following links from the City of Ottawa website on issues such as: Zoning, Decks, Permitted Projections into Required Yards, and a useful mapping tool that can be used to locate your property and attain detailed information about your property and the surrounding area. This tool will usually provide you with your zoning, legal description of the lands, frontage, area, and depth. An example of this is shown below, followed by the links.

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  1. Mapping Tool: GeoOttawa
  2. City of Ottawa Zoning By-law
  3. Permitted Projections into Required Yards