Greater Toronto Area residents have been loving condos since the mid-1980s, but today there is more demand than ever for Condo living.  The Toronto Real Estate Board continues to report increases in both sales and prices of condos in the GTA even as the demand for single family homes has softened.  Much of that demand is due to home prices reaching unattainable levels for many looking to buy for the first time or move up in the market.


For many in the market for a new home, buying an older larger condo and renovating it to bring it up to modern standards of design and functionality is one way to start the climb up the property ladder.  And with the value of condos on the rise, existing condo owners are also looking to get the most out of their home.


As with houses, one of the best ways to increase the value of your condo is through renovations.  However, the process for getting renovations done on your condominium unit is nothing like that for a house.  Here is what you need to know to get the best out of a condo renovation in the GTA.



One of the great things about renovating a condo is that you often do not need to get a building permit from the municipality, instead you typically have to get approval from your condo board as exterior walls are generally exempt for renovation work (unless you are combining multiple units into one unit).  Permits may still be required for electrical work however.  The best way to streamline your condo renovation process and to minimize potential issues down the line is to get your condo corporation involved right from the start.


In order to get permission from the board, you will usually have to submit a proposal.  The best bet for getting the proposal approved is to put us in touch with your property manager, who can let us know the whole procedure for getting approval.



Before bringing in any materials or contractors you may be required to get insurance or pay a deposit to the condo.  This is to cover potential damage to common elements and shared areas like elevators and hallways.  A deposit has the benefit of being able to get your money back if no damage occurs, whereas insurance has the benefit of reducing your loss if it does.  In most cases which of these you require is determined by your condo board.  Either option will help to protect you financially and legally.  In either scenario Penguin will also provide insurance coverage, and cover your condo deposit.  We want you to know we are your partner throughout the process and build.



Many condos place restrictions on the hours and days that you can have work done on your condo.  Be sure to find out the work hours early on and share them with us as soon as possible.  Knowing what days and hours are available to have work done will help us prepare a more accurate quote and timeline for the project.


Note:  The Toronto Noise Bylaw only allows the use of construction equipment from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturdays.  In condos these hours are often restricted even further from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and no weekend hours.  When planning a condo renovation in Toronto, you may need to plan for a longer time period.



Plan Ahead.  As mentioned previously, the working hours for your renovation are likely to be restricted.  With this in mind, it is important for us to get the most out of these hours.  Booking parking helps to ensure that Penguin workers have a convenient place nearby to park their vehicles.  Before arranging for parking, talk to us about the specifics of your build to find out if extra space is needed for large vehicles or waste bins.  This limits the distance we need to transport equipment and materials to and from your worksite, helping keep the build as time efficient as possible.  Pre-booking an elevator not only saves time by reducing the wait for an elevator but also prevents conflict with your neighbours and allows us to reduce our clean-up time.



Booking elevators and parking will save plenty of time moving materials and equipment, while following your condo’s material disposal and transport regulations will save you from the hassle an inexperienced contractor may cause.  When planning Toronto area condo renovations, we need to figure out how we will be getting materials and equipment in and out of your space.  It is common for condos to have specific rules about bringing in and removing materials, and it is important to follow their procedure.  We may have to bring them in through a specific entrance and/or elevator, all while following safety and cleanliness protocols laid out by the condo board.



In providing the agreed upon proposal to the board for your renovation, we ensure we protect you and the other tenants of the building.  Some buildings have areas that cannot be renovated because of potential damage to your condo, another condo, or shared space.  This protects your safety and property.  We will follow the guidelines to the best of our abilities, but getting approval of the proposal from the Condo Board or Condo Management Company ensure all parties are aware of any such limitations before we proceed.  Finding these limitations out in advance will help you to plan your condo renovations accurately, prevent changes, unnecessary expenses, and keep your project on schedule.



Common elements are the parts of your condo that are considered to be condominium property.  These parts are not considered to be owned by you, but by the condo corporation.  It may include things like your front door, balcony, windows, or supporting walls/columns.


Common areas are areas which are considered to be shared amongst the condo tenants.  These include things like the hallways, elevators, and courtyards.  You cannot work on these areas without the consent of the affected tenants and approval from the condo property owners, condo board or condo management company.  Buy and large it is best to avoid these areas in the planning stage to avoid delays and disappointments.



Plumbing options may be limited in a condo.  Plumbing systems and drainage are often shared between condos so you may not be able to move sinks, toilets, or showers exactly to where you would like.  In some cases, we may be able to extend the piping to move pieces to the location you desire, but this will have to be cleared by your condo board.


As well it is possible that your condo may need to turn off the water for all tenants in order to allow for plumbing portions of your renovation.  So you will have to organize this ahead of time, to minimize disruption for your neighbours.



Electrical work falls under many of the same concerns as plumbing.  Fortunately, it is less likely that your electrical work will affect your neighbours, but sometimes your electrical options are limited and you may not be able to add or move some outlets.



If there is one thing that has been made clear by the limitations, common areas, common elements, and plumbing/electrical sections, it is that your original idea may not be possible exactly how you had pictured it.  The good news is that we are familiar and experienced with a great deal of these issues and can help you find creative solutions to ensure you get the renovation you want.  As well as being able to come up with creative solutions Penguin can also suggest other options that will fit the look, feel, and functionality you are looking to achieve.